It’s pretty clear through three preseason games that Dwayne Bacon has improved since last season. He’s shown more confidence attacking the hoop, he’s knocking down the occasional 3-pointer, and his defense continues to be solid. And yet despite this, he may find it difficult once again to break into the rotation.
The Charlotte Hornets may still be figuring out their exact starting lineup and rotation, but as of now it’s fairly safe to assume that Kemba Walker, Jeremy Lamb, Nicolas Batum, Marvin Williams, and Cody Zeller* are the starters (*Zeller’s spot is not set yet, in my opinion). If James Borrego goes with a 10 man rotation, the second unit will likely consist of Tony Parker, Malik Monk, Miles Bridges, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, and Willy Hernangomez. This five certainly debatable, but consider who Bacon fills in for among this second unit. There are options, but there’s no obvious pick. This is why I have doubts about Bacon’s role at the moment.
It starts with Bridges. Prior to preseason, we were told he would start playing primarily at small forward. At this point, I would’ve given the edge to Bacon based solely on experience. Now, though, it’s clear Bridges needs to play, and that could spell trouble for Bacon if it’s at the three spot.
But Bridges’s strong start could also help Bacon. JB and the staff are now stating Bridges could see time between the three and four spots, and we’ve already seen that in action in preseason. I think Bridges’s ultimate position is at power forward, so if he slides into that spot over MKG, Bacon suddenly has minutes available to him.
What’s unfortunate for Bacon is that his role this season is kind of out of his control. Unless he takes a giant step forward and blows away the coaching staff, his spot in the rotation may ultimately be decided by how Bridges, MKG, and even Monk perform. Then again, some less than stellar defensive moments in the first two games didn’t help Bacon’s case either. He picked it up against the Heat, looking much better on both ends, but he’s going to need to play well in the final two preseason games to help his case.
Whether Bacon plays, he continues to look the part of a solid NBA player. That’s ultimately a good thing for the Hornets, who have lacked depth and young talent to build around in recent seasons. He’s the kind of player the Hornets should feel comfortable going to in a pitch. If he’s able to impress in those opportunities, he could push himself more permanently into the rotation. For now though, Bacon will likely find himself just outside the rotation.