The Charlotte Hornets trip down south for Orlando Summer League has wrapped up. They finished the week with two wins over the same team, the Brooklyn Nets, and a place in the last place game. So it wasn't a particularly successful week for wins, but everybody knows that isn't the point of summer league. The point is to get the feet wet of incoming rookies, test the talent level of undrafted rookies, D-League players, fringe NBA guys, and see how far along other young players have come. Keeping all this in mind, what have we learned about the Hornets through this process?
The Hornets only draft pick this year had a not great summer league. He was inconsistent, his defense was poor, and there were times that he just disappeared completely. That said, his high moments were incredible. At times, Kaminsky was far and away the best player on the floor thanks to his dead eye shooting, and great screen setting ability. When he was on, the entire floor was opened up for the Hornets. Unfortunately, his unwillingness to assert himself, and the team's lack of ball distributors hurt his overall performance.
The veterans are players that have a year or two of NBA experience under their belt, were with the Hornets last season, and are now playing in summer league. The team puts them on the roster so they can get an idea of how much they've improved, and what skills they might bring to them come training camp.
The Hornets had two returners this year, and one of them was P.J. Hairston. This is technically Hairston's third year as a pro, because his final year before the NBA Draft was spent in the D-League. With this in mind, his expectations were pretty high entering the week. Unfortunately, these expectations turned out to be way too high for him, because he still hasn't changed much from what the Hornets saw last season. Like Kaminsky, Hairston needs a ball distributor to be effective, and experimentation with Hairston as a ball handler were a disaster. It's hard to gather what Hairston can do when he's in an actual offensive system, but his time in summer league raises concerns about his future. He has the rest of the offseason to improve, and summer league really doesn't mean much, but his poor play can't be written off.
The other returning player for the Hornets was actually acquired mid-way through last season. Troy Daniels, brought in during the Mo Williams trade, didn't get to play last season so expectations for him were pretty low. However, even if they had been high, Daniels still would have met every expectation given to him. He shot great the entire week, and even showed some decent ability as a ball handler. Unfortunately, it's hard to buy too much into Daniels week. A lot of what he did came outside of an actual system, against defenders not at an NBA level, and there's no real evidence that it's going to be transferable. Although it's definitely something to get excited about when the Hornets enter training camp.
This was going to be the undrafted rookies category, but the only other player worth talking about is Aaron Harrison. Undrafted out of Kentucky, Harrison was expected by many to at least make a training camp roster. He had the talent, but everybody wanted to know if he could use it at the NBA level. During Summer League, Harrison not only made a case for the training camp roster, but for the final roster come October. His ability to get to the rim was incredible, and he had no problems with taking contact. He played really well considering he was playing an unfamiliar position in point guard.
That said, there are plenty areas of his game that need work. The team overall suffered from a lack of ball distribution, and Harrison didn't help in that category. He gets points for trying, but it's definitely a work in progress right now. There's also concerns about his inconsistent jumpshot, and if he'll be able to repeat this kind of performance against NBA talent.
Even so, despite Harrison's struggles, he played great this week and showed real potential as a third point guard. Expect to see his name on the training camp roster, and then we'll see if he can do it all again come pre-season.
The Hornets summer league team overall wasn't very good. They only manged two wins against the same team, and they were pretty difficult to watch at times. The players were trying, but the lack of a ball distributor really hurt them. Nobody should have to rely on P.J. Hairston as a creator, and early in the week that was happening. There was also a run on joke going on that they were just like the actual team, because they kept bricking wide open 3-pointers. It wasn't a very good summer league team, and while they had their moments, it makes sense why they played in the game deciding last place.