Last season, the Charlotte Hornets were underrated when it came to outside shooting. Despite having two starting players who have a career 14.5 percent from downtown (Howard and Kidd-Gilchrist), the team still managed to have a very efficient season from that side of the court. They finished 21st in the league in 3-point attempts, (2,223) but finished with the 8th highest percentage (37 percent).
As new Hornets head coach James Borrego has emphasized a lot of schematical changes in his offseason interviews, he has hinted at a new philosophy for the team’s offense. A quicker and more upbeat tempo approach that will heavily involve the three has been the headline of these changes.
Here’s the personnel that Borrego should call upon when he needs more three-point scoring.
- Kemba Walker
- Malik Monk
- Jeremy Lamb
- Marvin Williams
- Frank Kaminsky
Kemba has significantly improved his deep range game since coming into the NBA seven years ago. When he first came into the league, scouts said that outside shot was still a work in progress. That deemed true, as, through his first four seasons, the UCONN guard tallied 31.8 percent from outside.
That number has increased dramatically to 38.6 percent over the past three seasons. This increase in production has allowed Walker to participate in the NBA 3-point contest in 2017. He was fourth in the entire NBA in 3-pointers made last season with 241 makes. This increase in 3-point production also helped solidify himself as the best 3-point shooter in Charlotte Hornets history as he passed Dell Curry on the all-time team career buckets from behind the arc at 930.
What makes Kemba so elusive from 3 is the way he sets up his shot. Unlike one-dimensional shooters like Klay Thompson, Kemba has been able to find open looks for himself using many tactics. For one, he is an elite catch-and-shoot scorer and Hornets swingman Nicolas Batum has been the shining star in giving him those looks.
On an individual level, Kemba’s incredible ball-handling ability sets him up to be a more reliable 3-point shooter. He can create separation with his defenders in a variety of ways. From spins to his signature step-back, Kemba has made become a sniper from downtown.
Here’s a compilation of all nine threes that Kemba put up against the Hawks last season.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise as Monk’s go to scoring move is the 3-point shot. Ever since he shot an impressive 40 percent while taking nearly six 3’s a game at the University of Kentucky, Monk has displayed his skill of the deep ball on a national scale for a while now.
However, his rookie season wasn’t the best shooting from three. One reason can be drawn to Monk’s inexperience in a fast-paced NBA since he was only 19 years old when he played his rookie year. Another reason is the fact that the Hornets offensive play style, especially early on in the season, didn’t allow Malik to fully “unleash” himself.
But as the season wore on, his numbers and opportunities began to rise. He went from averaging five points and shooting 34 percent from three to scoring 9.7 points while shooting 34.5 percent from three. Although the percentages are near identical, the amount of growth of his total points shows that Monk was starting to adapt more to the NBA scheme.
That’s why he should be included in this lineup. Having played 59 percent of last year at point guard, Monk can become the primary ball handler at times to find open guys like Kemba Walker open for three-point shot opportunities.
This spot would’ve gone to forward Treveon Graham, but he was swooped up by the Nets after the Hornets failed to extend his qualifying offer.
Back to Lamb. Lamb had an absolute breakout year last season, and he was able to improve in all aspects of his game. From his distribution to his defense to his overall shooting, he looked like a changed player than his previous five seasons. Based on the 3-point percentage alone, it rose from 28 to 37 percent from two years ago. This increase in efficiency is a feat that is rarely seen in today’s NBA.
Last year also brought a new realm to Lamb’s game. Due to the inconsistent on offense from former Hornets point guards Michael Carter-Williams and Julian Stone, the Hornets tried something new that no one seemed to talk about. That allowed Lamb to be a “point forward.”
Williams has quietly been one of the better 3-point scorers in the league over the past two seasons. Former Hornets shooting coach Bob Weiss deserves a lot of credit for transforming William’s game from only an inside game to one that relies heavily on the three-ball. His size at 6’9 with a 7’3 wingspan allows him to have a great size advantage while shooting from beyond the arc.
This transformation of his shooting has put Williams as a mainstay in the starting lineup. Last season, he was first on the team in 3-point scoring who shot a minimum of 80 shots from 3. He has become the team’s primary sharpshooter outside of Kemba.
However, the main problem that doesn’t allow Williams to become a key offensive contributor is his attempts. He has become a very selective shooter, especially from outside. If there’s a better opportunity, you better believe he will pass for that better shot selection.
But there comes a part between being a team player and not being aggressive. Williams needs to become more greedy when it comes to taking shots as he has proven that he is a very capable shooter.
That’s why he will strive in this lineup. With his team-first mindset, he, along with the other guards, create a fluid flowing offense. He can stay in the corner and take his shots when given, while also setting screens allowing for one of the guards to have an off-ball opportunity.
Kaminsky basically wins this by default. Willy Hernangomez, while shooting an obscured 57 percent from 3, only hoisted up a total of seven the entire 2017-2018 season. The other centers on the team, Cody Zeller and Bismack Biyombo, both of who have never been able to become a threat from beyond the arc.
Since coming into the league in 2015, Kaminsky has solely relied on his outside shot to help him score on offense. This is because his post game in college hasn’t translated to the NBA. But, his 3-point shooting has been able to make that leap to the pros. He has been a career 38 percent 3-point shooter, which is slightly above league average. The one main factor when it comes to his outside shot is his self-confidence from that area. We’ve seen the up and downs of Kaminsky’s personal confidence and how it directly translates his efficiency shooting. That’s why he has been only a moderate shooter since arriving to the league. He can go stretches where shooting the lights out from 3, but things can quickly head south as he can go on a series of games where he struggles to find any source of offense. In all, Kaminsky’s ability to have some a moderate outside shooting ability still helps the Hornets in a dramatic way, even if his efficiency doesn’t match.
Kaminsky also adds a strategy on offense that the Hornets have rarely used in recent years: five out offense. His shooting from the center position allows the Hornets to set all five players on the perimeter on offense. This helps Frank’s individual game as the primary way that he has found opportunities from three has been the pick and pop. By putting all five guys on the perimeter, there will be more opportunities for Frank on the screenplay as his defender will most likely have to cover the screener cutting into the paint.
Team-wise, a five-out offense will greatly help the Hornets’ offensive scoring. As all four of the five (Williams) having a career assists percentage over turnover, the team can execute multiple ways to find open looks. With the increased ball handling opportunities from Monk and Lamb last year, the team can rely on all three to periodically become the focal point on offense.
In the end, the 3-point lineup allows the Hornets to score in bunches. It opens up more and more ways that the team can find great selections, especially from outside.