After a 23-42 season in 2019-2020 that missed the playoffs, the Charlotte Hornets opened with a loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Not only did they lose the opener, but they also lost center Cody Zeller, who broke his left hand in the game.
Cody Zeller scored six points and had three rebounds in 19 minutes of action. Zeller underwent surgery and reportedly will miss anywhere between a month and month and a half. The problem now is that the Hornets don’t have a legitimate starting center moving forward.
Bismarck Biyombo, who averaged seven points and six rebounds in 19 minutes per game last season, scored 11 points in the opener and will see increased playing time moving forward. Now, the question is whether or not the Hornets try to trade for a viable center, go to the free agent pool, or stick with their current roster.
Behind Biyombo on the depth chart at center is P.J. Washington, Vernon Carey Jr, and Nick Richards. Washington, a true power forward, averaged 12.2 points and 5.4 rebounds per game last season. Carey, a 19-year-old in his first NBA season, averaged 17.8 points per game last season at Duke. Richards, a 23-year-old rookie out of Kentucky, averaged 14 points per game last season.
The thought here is that the Hornets won’t go after a center of starting caliber since Zeller will only be out a reasonably short time. They could try to incorporate the talented, but inexperienced rookies deep on the depth chart. Another option is to go with a smaller, quicker lineup and play a more up-tempo game. The 28-year-old Cody Zeller averaged a career-best 11.1 points and 7.1 rebounds per game last season and has career averages of 8.6 points and six rebounds in 420 games.