It was a year to forget in many ways for the 2022-2023 Charlotte Hornets, whose 27-55 record were not a good team to bet on with North Carolina sportsbooks.
But in a season that saw consistent injuries to star LaMelo Ball, there was still at least one positive to come from the Hornets' latest campaign. And, we're not talking about the team landing the No. 2 overall pick in the draft, though that should certainly help.
If you do some digging, you’ll find that there was a faint silver lining for the Steve Clifford-coached club, with a former second round pick in 2020 managing to finish in the top-12 leaguewide when it comes to on-court value during the year. Read on to find out who cracked the list, and who you might be able to bet on next season with North Carolina sports betting apps.
Nick Richards Carves Out A Role
Former Kentucky Wildcat Nick Richards entered the past season with what was likely his final chance to prove he could stick as an NBA player. Drafted at No. 42 overall in 2020, Richards saw only extremely limited time in his first two seasons, in which he also saw plenty of minutes with the NBA G-League Greensboro Swarm.
While he showed occasional flashes, Richards appeared to be in trouble to start camp last season, as the Hornets used their 2022 first round pick on another big man, Mark Williams out of Duke. With veteran Mason Plumlee entrenched as the starter, Richard faced an uphill battle to earn minutes and finally make his mark in Charlotte.
Most Underrated NBA Players of 2022-23 Season
For this study, BetCarolina.com utilized Basketball-Reference.com to find the cap hit and point shares of every NBA player during the 2022-23 NBA regular season. After doing the math of the $ per point share for each player in the league, we determined the 25 most value-driven players from this season. Salary and point shares were included for all teams the player was on during the 2022-23 season.
Richards Cracks Top 10 For Most Underrated
It turns out that pressure situation may have been just what Richards needed, as the 25-year-old came out of the gates with his hair on fire to start the season. Richards in the very first game of the season, a win over the San Antonio Spurs, put up 19 points and 10 rebounds in just 22 minutes played, an effort that earned him Clifford's respect and a place in the rotation.
It was a coming out party for Richards to start the year, as four nights later he scored 20 points and grabbed 11 boards in a win over Atlanta.
While his minutes fluctuated over the course of the season (both Plumlee and Williams also had strong years, as the Hornets were a strangely deep team at the five), Richards more than proved he's an NBA caliber player in his third year. He finished the season averaging 8. 2 points and 6.4 rebounds with an 18.3 PER while only playing 18.7 minutes per game.
Amid our research, that was good enough to crack the Top 10 across the NBA in Most Underrated Players, tying in 9th with Grizzlies F/C Xavier Tillman.
The real reward? At the end of the season, with Plumlee traded away, the Hornets rewarded Richards with a three-year, $15 million contract extension.
Moving forward, he'll have a chance to bolster the rebuilding Hornets alongside their incoming No. 2 overall pick, as the team finally has a chance to make some noise.
If you're interested in learning more about who the Hornets may end up adding to their roster, visit our recent article: Who Will Hornets Target With No. 2 Pick in 2023 NBA Draft?.