The Hornets are only three games into the 2015-16 preseason, but the difference in the team's offense is clear. There is ball movement, spacing, and a lot of attempted 3-pointers. It's everything the Hornets weren't last season. For a team largely unfamiliar with each other, the offense has been fluid. Maybe most importantly, it's been fun. Take this play:
Presented without comment pic.twitter.com/Q0wWXKRkRl— Hive Talk Live (@HiveTalkLive) October 11, 2015
In all the years I've watched the Bobcats/Hornets, I can't ever recall a play like this. This is what fun basketball looks like apparently.
A couple of things stood out for Sunday morning's game. The two standouts were Jeremy Lin and Cody Zeller, who scored 16 points a piece and were efficient in various ways.
Lin, playing in China for the first time, had the crowd's attention all night. Every time he touched the ball, the crowd noise level increased as expectations grew for what he might do with the ball. Lin didn't disappoint, connecting on 6-12 shooting, and adding 4 assists. As has been the case, he played both as the point guard and off the ball. What I've noticed last night and in their previous game, was how well Lin and Brian Roberts have played together on the floor. While it helps that Roberts has played very well so far in preseason, the amount of time they shared on the floor could be indicative of how Steve Clifford might organize his rotation. Roberts was considered the third point guard heading into training camp, but with his solid play and Lin's ability to play off the ball, it wouldn't be surprising to see Roberts break into the rotation, at least initially.
Zeller was a perfect 6-6, scoring mainly around the basket, but also connecting on a 3-pointer, his third of preseason (he's 3-3 for preaseon by the way). Zeller is playing with more aggression on offense, something he lacked a lot of last season, but he seems to be benefiting from Charlotte's more spaced out, pass-friendly offense. Even if Zeller plays more offensively minded this season, he still isn't one that can create a lot of scoring chances for himself. However, given that many of his points came off of good ball movement and after defenders committed to another player on the drive (leaving him wide open), Zeller could find himself the benefactor of a lot of high percentage shots because he's shown so far in preseason an awareness to be in good scoring positions.
Finally, this was the second time the Hornets scored 100 points or more while Al Jefferson scored less than 10 points (he finished with eight). Jefferson still got his chances, attempting 11 shots, but there may not be a clearer sign that the Hornets new offense won't be as reliant on Jefferson when their scoring in triple digits without major contributions from Big Al.
The Hornets will play the Clippers again Wednesday morning in Shanghai.
Some final quick notes:
- Kemba Walker finished with 13 points on 5-8 shooting, and looked very comfortable with his short mid-range pull up shot.
- Nicolas Batum finished with 11 points on 3-6 shooting, but played particularly aggressive late in the 2nd quarter, launching a couple of contested 3-pointers as he rolled off of screens.
- Spencer Hawes was only 4-14, and 1-5 from the 3-point line, but his presence alone forced the Clippers to stretch their defense out, opening up a lot of spacing in the lane for others.