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Steve Clifford not sure if Zeller or Hibbert will start

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Hornets head coach Steve Clifford named four of the team’s five starters today and indicated that he wasn’t sure who’d start center.

NBA: Los Angeles Lakers at Charlotte Hornets Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Charlotte Hornets head coach Steve Clifford told media that Kemba Walker, Nicolas Batum, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, and Marvin Williams would start on opening night next month. If you’re counting, that’s only four of five starters. What gives?

Clifford said he wasn’t sure if Cody Zeller or new addition Roy Hibbert would start for the Hornets. However, he indicated that both would play a lot.

He also said who plays more would largely depend on matchups and lineups.

While many expected Zeller to be the de facto starter this season, it’s clear Clifford isn’t committed to him. That doesn’t mean Zeller’s time in Charlotte is nearing its end. Far from it. It’s simply a reminder that Hibbert’s better than we give him credit — an easy mistake to make, considering his last couple of seasons — and that we should expect more from him this year.

The Hornets will play more slowly when Hibbert’s on the floor, owing to the center’s less-than-ideal foot speed. In contrast, expect a lot of running and gunning when Zeller’s on the floor.

That ability to change pace so dramatically will drive opponents nuts. After all, it’s quite the luxury to have two decent centers with markedly different styles of play.

Keep an eye on how this plays out in training camp and during the preseason.