The NBA season is underway, so it's time for the Hive Market to start booming. Here, we evaluate the recent play of Hornets players and tell you whether or not you should buy into their potential as a player and future on the Hornets roster. Play your cards right, and you will be rich in NBA knowledge and bragging rights.
Nick Richards: Buy
After only averaging about six minutes per game through his first two seasons, Richards has averaged 20 minutes throughout eight games to start this season and is making the most of them. Putting up 10.4 points, 6.4 rebounds (three offensive!), an assist and about a block on exceptional efficiency, his impact is loud and clear.
His low 1.9 fouls per game in a significant sample size is promising, especially for a younger big man in today's game, and he is played a part in getting the Hornets back to what would be their best defensive effort in five years.
He navigates the pick and roll like a machine, positions himself well on the court, can hang with the best of them on the offensive glass and is off to the races when it's time to run the floor. Although he has not shown any signs of a reliable three-point ability, the ceiling for his offensive game is in the clouds.
Contrary to what might be a popular opinion, the post-game is still alive and well, and having someone you can toss the ball to and say, "go get us a bucket," is more valuable than ever. If Richards can develop an even average post-game that he can consistently go to, it gives the Hornets another offensive option.
Even if a three-ball is out of the question, having a short mid-range game would be enough for defenders to respect Richards and allow him to open up the rest of his game even more. He has not gone to it much, but having the willingness and confidence to take it is a step in the right direction.
A more consistent diet of shot attempts would be nice, but it's understandable, considering everyone else that needs touches, and Richards is currently adjusting to his new role. His determination at the rim leads to a few reckless attempts that end in blocks here and there, but having that aggression is key to any scorer's ability to put the ball in the hole.
Nick Richard's stock is on the rise, and I am completely buying into what he could bring to the table for the Hornets.
Gordon Hayward: Sell
Being the most significant free agent signing by the Hornets since the dreadful 2016 offseason, Hayward is not a bad player by any means. He is still a quality NBA player averaging 17.4 points, 4.3 rebounds and 4.1 assists on about average efficiency with similar numbers to match for the past few years.
However, he is not worth the thirty million contract that the Hornets, as a smaller market team, are overpaying him for the next two years. That is why the Hornets should try their best to move him while his value is still on the higher side.
It will only make sense to resign him in 2024 if it's for a significantly less amount, and there's a good possibility that it makes more sense to allocate that money elsewhere. Of course, trading Hayward for something of worth is easier said than done when considering his injury history and the 15% trade kicker in his contract that increases his salary when traded.
So, if a deal does happen, it would likely be next year when his contract and salary expire.
Hayward on this team made more sense at the time of his signing in 2021 as he started to turn things around for the better, and the Hornets looked to form a team that could win. Now, the timeline has shifted, and Hayward's stock is declining.
The Hive Market will continue to record and report on the individual performance of the Hornets as they strive to maintain a record over .500 for the second season in a row.