Hornets 2021 Schedule: Top Games, Updated Championship Odds and Predictions

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistFebruary 24, 2021

Charlotte Hornets guard LaMelo Ball brings the ball up court against the Houston Rockets in the second half of an NBA basketball game in Charlotte, N.C., Monday, Feb. 8, 2021. Charlotte won 119-94. (AP Photo/Nell Redmond)
Nell Redmond/Associated Press

The future is looking bright for the Charlotte Hornets.

LaMelo Ball, who was the No. 3 overall pick of the 2020 NBA draft, has already flashed moments of brilliance and looks like a franchise cornerstone for years to come. What's more, P.J. Washington, Terry Rozier, Devonte' Graham, Miles Bridges and Malik Monk are all 26 years old or younger.

Throw in Gordon Hayward as a veteran and go-to scorer, and the Hornets have a chance to make the playoffs for the first time since the 2015-16 campaign.

They are 14-16 in the first half of the season, which is good enough to be tied for the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference.

Charlotte now knows the second half of the schedule it must navigate to reach the postseason. Here is a look at all the key information from the release:


2020-21 Hornets Schedule Details

Second-Half Opener: March 11 vs. Detroit Pistons at 7 p.m. ET

Championship Odds (FanDuel): +160 (bet $100 to win $160)

Second-Half Schedule: NBA.com


Top Matchups

Chicago Bulls (April 22)

The Chicago Bulls and Hornets are in similar places, and it has nothing to do with a Michael Jordan connection.

Rather, there is plenty of young talent on both rosters and a realistic chance to break into the bottom portion of the Eastern Conference playoff picture. Coby White, like Ball for Charlotte, has looked like a young building block, while Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen, Wendell Carter Jr. and Patrick Williams represent a solid nucleus.

Veterans such as Otto Porter Jr. and Thaddeus Young help round out the roster, and a first playoff appearance since 2016-17 is not out of the question.

In fact, the Bulls and Hornets could be fighting against each other for one of those last spots in the Eastern Conference playoffs this season. That makes the head-to-head matchups all the more important when it comes to moving up in the standings and securing tiebreaker advantages.

This may not be a headline showdown, but it will be an important one for Charlotte's postseason chances.


Atlanta Hawks (April 11)

Like the Bulls, the Atlanta Hawks are a team the Hornets may need to beat for an Eastern Conference playoff seed.

They already won the first two matchups this season in January, giving them a leg up when it comes to tiebreakers. Adding another head-to-head win could help Charlotte swing the standings in its favor.

The Hawks are also a team featuring plenty of young talent with Trae Young, John Collins, De'Andre Hunter and others. Point guard battles between Young and Ball figure to be appointment viewing in the Southeast Division for years to come, and the Hornets' frontcourt will have its hands full trying to counter Collins and Clint Capela.

Between the early battles featuring Young and Ball, and the overall importance these games could have on the Eastern Conference playoff picture, Atlanta lands on the top matchups list for the Hornets.


Season Forecast

There is real reason for optimism in Charlotte for the first time since Kemba Walker was running the offense.

While the postseason is the goal for this team, the 2020-21 campaign is also about taking strides with an eye on the future. There is plenty of young talent already in place, and it will take some time for it to fully come together even if there have been hints about the overall potential.

Whether Ball can turn into the star the front office surely envisioned on draft day is the most important thing, but there are a number of players who figure to only improve with additional experience.

Ultimately, the Hornets will fall short of the traditional playoff bracket, but they will benefit from the changes in place for this season. There is a play-in tournament for the Nos. 7-10 seeds in both conferences in 2020-21, and Ball and Co. will find themselves right in the mix.

Even if they fall short in the play-in tournament, the experience of playing in pressure-packed, win-or-go-home games will benefit Charlotte in the long run.

Final Record Prediction: 34-38 (No. 10 seed in Eastern Conference)


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