Last night the Charlotte Hornets played the Atlanta Hawks in only their second game of the season. Obviously there are still some kinks that need to be worked out, but overall the team is already looking better. The first game was a mixed bag of good and bad moments while the second was mainly good play with dashes of bad basketball thrown in. Of course, it helped that the Hawks got tired legs late in the game, but Charlotte still played well.
What stood out more than anything else last night was Charlotte's offense. They attempted 30 3-pointers, moved off the ball, and had a lot of crisp passing. Those that watched the team last year know that all of this is entirely new to the Steve Clifford, and is definitely a welcome addition. We just have to hope that Charlotte keeps up with it all season, and doesn't abandon that style of play during a rough stretch.
What's strange however is the Hornets calling card, their defense, has been less than stellar through these last couple games. The Hawks made notice of that with how easily they got out in transition on the Hornets. Atlanta had 21 fastbreak points, and was able to get into their sets before the defense was fully prepared. It's fair to expect a drop on defense after losing Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, but being this bad in transition is weird. That said, Charlotte was pretty bad at the beginning of last season on defense so a bounce back of some kind should be expected.
What wasn't expected was how well Marvin Williams is playing early on. There will likely be a regression to the mean of some kind with him, but right now he's really playing well. He's all over the place on defense, and he's been in the right spot every time on offense. Last night in particular he went 3-for-5 from 3-point range, and hit some key shots late.
Also playing well early on this season has been Jeremy Lin. He's continued his tear through preseason, and has done a great job running the second unit while coming in at the two guard spot late in games. He might have had a poor shooting performance against Atlanta, but he found other ways to contribute and ended up hitting two huge 3-pointers late in the game.
The Hornets have yet to win a game, but it's hard to be too disappointed with how they've played so far this season .They've been far from perfect, but they're much better than they were last season and have been playing a better style of basketball. It's a shame that their early season schedule is so brutal, because they probably would have won a game by now if they were playing weaker opponents.