Following a five minute rant after losing to Minnesota, Charlotte head coach Steve Clifford's frustration is beginning to show as his side lost for the 12th time this season.

The Charlotte Hornets have shown glimmers of promise in the first 18 games but they are still struggling to find consistency.

Before the season began, the idea of LaMelo Ball running the point with 2nd overall pick Brandon Miller completing an energetic, youthful backcourt to go along with rising star Mark Williams and the returning Miles Bridges, hopes were high heading into the season.

Miles Bridges (Photo by Kent Smith/NBAE via Getty Images)
Miles Bridges during the Hornets' home game against Minnesota (Photo by Kent Smith/NBAE via Getty Images)
  • What is going wrong?

In fairness, the Hornets have had injury struggles in the early stages this season, but as of now they are almost at full strength.

Ball, 22, has missed the last four games with an ankle injury and while it is not as serious as first feared, he could be out for a lengthy spell.

Though he did start slowly and perhaps if he had hit the ground running sooner, Charlotte may be in a more positive position.

The Hornets managed just one win since their star man was shelved, the 6'7 guard is leading the team in points and assists averaging 24.7ppg and 8.2apg.

LaMelo Ball (Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images)
LaMelo Ball bringing the ball up the court against the Washington Wizards (Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images)

As mentioned in Coach Clifford's post Timberwolves rant, Charlotte lack physicality and such a weakness was bound to be exploited when facing Karl-Anthony Towns and Rudy Gobert.

A distinct lack of physicality is not an easy fix, it is a systemic issue in Charlotte and becoming more physical is something that will take plenty of time and adjustment.

They are one of the worst sides in the league on the defensive end, Clifford's team are ranked 25th in the NBA for defence and 26th for points conceded from turnovers with 18.6 per game.

Brandon Miller hasn't exactly set the league alight so far in his rookie season, but the guard is certainly improving, the absence of Ball gives Miller the chance to shine in the starting five and is currently ranked 5th among the rookies.

Brando Miller driving to the basket at MSG (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)
Brando Miller driving to the basket at MSG (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)
  •  The positives

It is important to look at the positives, Charlotte have time on their side and are a young team with lots of potential but how much longer are their fans willing to wait for a play off appearance or even just a team to be proud of.

They have one of the most talented and skilled guards in the league in LaMelo Ball, but they need him to be available and Hornets' fans will be hoping this ankle injury isn't too serious.

The likes of Brandon Miller and Mark Williams are talents with huge upside, especially on the offensive end.

Improvements are being made and their young core are evolving and adapting game by game and it seems they are desperate to improve as the effort is there.

Mark Williams being introduced at Spectrum Center (Photo by Brock Williams-Smith/NBAE via Getty Images)
Mark Williams being introduced at Spectrum Center (Photo by Brock Williams-Smith/NBAE via Getty Images)

To conclude, Charlotte need to weather the storm while they are without Ball but other players need to come into the fray and take responsibility as Terry Rozier did in their win over Brooklyn where the guard dropped 37 points and 13 assists.

Improving defensively is an absolute priority for Clifford and his post game monologue may be a catalyst for change to kickstart their season.

The Play In tournament needs to be the objective for Charlotte and an improvement on the last few seasons is an absolute must.

About the author