Johnny O’Bryant III brought a slimmer of hope last season that lasted literally one game. With the Charlotte Hornets mounting up losses and needing someone to step in for the injured Cody Zeller, O’Bryant joined the Hornets on a 10-day contract, and in his second game, scored 15 points on 7-9 shooting along with six rebounds. It was a solid, and much needed performance, but he never built on it, playing in just two more games before suffering a season ending injury.
You can watch highlights from the Denver game, and from the few others he played in, below:
It was enough for the Hornets, however, who offered him a multi-year, non-guaranteed contract. After playing well in Summer League in July, the team kept him around for his contract to fully guarantee for this season.
While a guaranteed contract is undoubtedly encouraging for O’Bryant, it’s unclear what role, if any he will play this season. He enters training camp third on the depth chart at power forward behind Marvin Williams and Frank Kaminsky. Barring injuries or an incredible showing in camp, O’Bryant will see limited minutes, and could bounce between the Hornets and Swarm.
But if O’Bryant see the floor, he offers a solid offensive game, particular as a mid-range shooter. He operates well in the pick-and-roll, and his high release allows him to shoot over taller defenders.
He also shows patience when looking for his shot, and doesn’t always settle for a jump shot. He reacts to how the defense defends him, and with the ability to put the ball on the floor, he is able to attack and finish at the rim.
To improve, O’Bryant needs to show ability as a 3-point shooter. He shot just 33.3 percent beyond the arc last season, and his career 57.1 percent average is contingent on the fact that he’s attempted just 0.7 per game for his career. Only occasionally shooting 3-point shots will not earn him minutes in Steve Clifford’s rotation.
O’Bryant isn’t terrible defensive, and shows potential in that area. He isn’t a rim protector or shot blocker by any stretch, however, but good positioning should help him stay on the floor if he receives any at all.
And again, any playing time this season will more than likely come as result of an injury to Williams or Kaminsky. In that scenario, O’Bryant is a solid short term option. That said, I’m hesitant to suggest he can be a long-term option for the team. One good performance against the Denver Nuggets isn’t cutting it at this point. While he stood out in the final three games of summer league, but those games weren’t against NBA caliber competition.
On the other hand, O’Bryant is a more complete player than from a few seasons ago. Drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks in the second round in 2014, O’Bryant found playing time during the Larry Sanders saga, starting in 19 games in two seasons. He wasn’t much use beyond rebounding and defense, however, and wasn’t utilized on offense.
Last season and this summer, his offensive game looks more developed, and at 24 years old he is entering the point in his career where he can find a solid and consistent niche given the opportunity. However, whether he gets that opportunity is more than likely out of his control.