CHARLOTTE — The second year of the Steve Clifford coaching reboot kicks off this week as the Charlotte Hornets open the NBA regular season with home games against Atlanta on Wednesday and Detroit on Friday.
Coming off a season in which the Hornets slumped to the fourth-worst record (27-55) in the NBA, the start of a new season and fresh reset under new ownership brings hope for a franchise that has not advanced to a playoff game since 2016 and hasn’t won a series since 2002.
While the Hornets are still considered long shots for a playoff spot, there’s reason to believe Charlotte can make positive strides this season.
Now in his seventh year coaching in Charlotte, Clifford noted Monday that he appreciates the hunger he’s seeing from his roster in practice.
“When they talk about the grind, there’s just no other way to do it,” he said. “Wednesday is just the first one, then it’s on. One thing I like about our team is that we have the right attitude. They came in here after a day off to get better, and a lot of times the older guys were more verbal with the younger guys.”
Many of the pieces are in place for the Hornets to build toward the future with success in the present.
They have an All-Star point guard in LaMelo Ball, capable scorers like Terry Rozier, PJ Washington and Gordon Hayward, and second-overall pick Brandon Miller, who comes to the Queen City after one season in college at Alabama.
Second-year big man Mark Williams is poised to bring stability at center, a position that has plagued Charlotte for years.
And then there’s Miles Bridges, who led Charlotte in scoring the last time he played in 2022 and is currently set to return Nov. 17 following a 10-game suspension, unless new legal troubles again keep him out the lineup.
“We may not be one of the top six teams today, but we can be in a couple of months,” Clifford said. “We’re having the right kind of growth mindset where you play, you win and you lose to figure out what’s good and bad and you fix it.”