The Charlotte Hornets opened Orlando Summer League today, and at times they looked very impressive. A steady diet of pick and rolls was their bread and butter on offense, with plenty of kickouts on the drive, but they struggled to knockdown 3-pointers on a consistent basis. It's almost like the regular season never ended!
As for the defensive end, there wasn't too much organization, but this is a natural effect of summer league. Nobody in summer league knows how to play defense, and the systems they're running are very basic at best. This is why physically dominant players usually out perform everybody else, because there's no real system in place to stop them. The Hornets were no exception, as they struggled to defend the pick and roll, and the Oklahoma City Thunder didn't have too much issue finding lanes to drive through.
Despite the Hornets struggles to shoot from deep, Charlotte found themselves in the lead by the end of the third quarter, and a lot of that had to do with the stellar play of Frank Kaminsky. In the first half, Kaminsky struggled to score no matter where he was shooting from. His shot looked rushed, and he looked pretty uncomfortable throughout the half. All of that changed in the second half when Kaminsky came out firing. He drained four 3-pointers, showcased his ability to handle the ball, and was completely dictating the pace of the game. He set great screens that OKC defenders got caught up in, and showed good knowledge of where he needed to be on the floor by floating out for open jumpshots.
However, tired legs and lack of a system led to defensive struggles for Kaminsky late in the game. OKC constantly pulled him away from the paint, and then found ways around him to the rim. Part of this had to do with Kaminsky looking tired, as his jumpshot started coming up short around the same time, but it even more so had to do with the lack of a system. Charlotte players didn't know where they needed to be to help each other, and in the end it led to the Thunder finding wide open lanes to the rim, and eventually the lead.
As the game concluded, Charlotte managed to keep things close and found themselves down two with the final shot of the game. Unfortunately for them, OKC sniffed out any play the Hornets tried to run, and it resulted in a contested fade away jumpshot by Kaminsky as the buzzer sounded. The shot missed, and the Hornets lost their first game of the summer.
Kaminsky was clearly the best player on the floor for the Hornets. They played their best ball when he was out there playing well, and their worst when he got tired late. Keep in mind this summer league roster features P.J. Hairston and Troy Daniels. We knew that Kaminsky was supposed to be NBA ready, but it's impressive that he's already playing better than two current NBA players.
As for the rest of the roster, nobody outside of Kaminsky played consistently well, but Aaron Harrison and Brian Qvale had flashes. Harrison had moments that showed why he's probably good enough to make a training camp roster, and Qvale was really surprising on the boards and defense. He consistently found himself in the right spot to contest shots and pull down rebounds. An impressive display from a player that nobody was really talking about before the game.
In the end, no matter how good or bad anybody played, this is still summer league. Some guys are gonna look fantastic, and others are gonna put up mediocre performances. These are nice when getting an idea of what kind of skillset these guys are bringing to the NBA, but how they perform doesn't matter all that much in the end.