Charlotte Hornets travel to face Pistons with focus on the future

The Charlotte Hornets will travel to Detroit on Monday night to face the Pistons in a matchup between two teams looking to rebuild.

On Monday night the Charlotte Hornets will visit the Detroit Pistons for the first leg of a three-game road trip. After having a surprisingly decent start to the season, the Hornets have fallen off drastically over the past two months. Charlotte has won just three games since Christmas, and the average margin of loss is growing rapidly. The Hornets have lost 13 of their last 14, and enter Monday night’s contest a season-high 20 games below .500.

Similarly, Detroit has suffered through a major falloff this year too. After winning 41 games last year, the Pistons currently have just 19 this season, and have won just two of their past 10 games. With that being said, the winner of tonight’s game may actually be the loser on the scoreboard. Entering Monday’s matchup, the Hornets have the fourth-best lottery odds, while the Pistons aren’t far behind in seventh.

The Hornets will face the Pistons as forward Miles Bridges continues to play the best basketball of his career.

When the 2019-2020 season opened, Miles Bridges was expected to be the guy for the Charlotte Hornets. After an impressive second-half of his rookie season, Bridges appeared poised for perhaps a breakout year. Unfortunately, what ended up happening was that Bridges got off to a bit of a slow start, and was heavily overshadowed by the emergence of PJ Washington and second-year point guard Devonte’ Graham. Since the middle of January, though, Bridges has undoubtedly been the Hornets’ best player.

Over his past six games, the former lottery pick has scored in double-figures each game for the first time in his career, and has scored at least 20 points in four of those contests. Across that same span, he’s also averaging 7.0 rebounds per game, including 16 on the offensive end. Bridges’ good work on the offensive glass has come in part due to the shift from the three to the four spot, with Washington moving to the five.

With that being said, the four is perhaps Bridges’ more natural offensive position, and could help him on the defensive end also. As previously noted, he had a strong finish to last season, and so far, he’s having a strong second half this year as well. The 21-year-old keeps showing growth and improvement, and as he continues to do so, he will only figure more and more into Charlotte’s plans for the future.

Monday’s game will mark Charlotte’s second since parting ways with Marvin Williams and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.

After failing to find trade partners for veteran forwards Marvin Williams and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, the Hornets negotiated a buyout with both players over the weekend. Since being bought out, the Bucks have expressed interest in signing Williams, and have gone as far as to clear out salary space to bring in the former second-overall draft pick. Perhaps what makes the 33-year-old Williams so valuable for a contender is his defensive prowess coupled with his ability to knock down threes.

Kidd-Gilchrist’s market is much less limited than that of Williams; however, his reputation as a defender could make him a nice pickup for a contender. The Mavericks, who are currently one of the worst on defense among projected playoff teams, have been rumored to be a potential fit for the eighth-year player. While the loss of the two players won’t hurt the Hornets very much on the court, the leadership they brought to a young team will be missed. As a result of their impact on the franchise’s future core, Hornets youngsters Washington, Bridges, and Dwayne Bacon expressed their thank-yous via social media following the two players’ exits.

Over the past two seasons, the dwindling court time for MKG has suggested that despite being only 26 years old, perhaps he wasn’t in the team’s long-term future. Now that he has been dismissed, that notion is a certainty. Kidd-Gilchrist never developed enough offensively to become a franchise player in Charlotte, and Williams was simply getting older and has even recently hinted at retirement following the end of this campaign. Their releases are a final sign that the Hornets have now decided to officially move on with two months remaining in the season in order to focus entirely on the future.