As Parks and Recreation’s Chris Traeger would say, NBA Media Day is *literally* the most positive day of the season. Players talk about how excited they are, how much weight they’ve lost, and how big an impact they believe they can make.
The above picture of Kemba Walker enthusiastically laughing? That’s the feeling of Media Day visualized.
On this day, the measured side of us that knows better takes a back seat. Today, it’s all about what is possible, and Media Day really makes us feel like anything is possible.
But clearly, that’s the idea. No team wants to project doom and gloom before training camp starts. Imagine if James Borrego got on the podium and said, “Yeah, we’re probably missing the playoffs again,” or, if just the week before, Kemba Walker had announced he wanted to be traded. I mean, who would do that, am I right?
Media Day is here to comfort us before the storm. It’s here to tell us that everything is going to be okay. It’s Chris Traeger, without Ben Wyatt and his harsh truths, telling us kindly that the Parks and Rec department is going to have 40 percent of their budget slashed. We ignore the whole budget slash because his tone was just so damn positive.
And boy, did the Charlotte Hornets give us a lot of positive things to think about.
A lot of players had a lot of good things to say. It’s all well and good, and I think we can all agree it would be great if it all came true. But beyond all the positive statements and outlooks, we learned a few interesting things worth keeping an eye on as the Hornets head into camp. I’ll start there.
The Hornets are practicing with a 12 second shot clock
As multiple Hornets confirmed, offseason workouts with different players have utilized a 12 second shot clock. Malik Monk pointed out that it’s helping the team adjust to the faster pace, while Marvin Williams found it interesting and fun, stating that in most cases they were literally running up and down the court. He also added that it really helped with their conditioning.
It’s obviously too early to tell whether this will make an impact, but it at least tells us the Hornets are serious about this faster pace of play. They probably won’t keep with it once the season starts, but it makes a lot of sense to do this through training camp and preseason. I also wouldn’t be surprised to see a lot of early shots taken this Friday in Chapel Hill, even if they aren’t the best shots.
Players see starting spots up for grabs
JB already stated that only Walker’s spot is safe in the starting lineup. That has a number of bench players looking to seize an opportunity.
Jeremy Lamb said he’d “be lying” if he said he didn’t want to start. Monk stated he has to put in the required amount of work if he’s going to get that opportunity. Willy Hernangomez added that, “Everybody wants to play. Everybody wants minutes.” There are theoretically four spots up for grabs, and a lot of guys think they can earn on of them. This should make for a competitive training camp and hopefully raise the play of everyone.
Batum remains an important player
While his starting spot is potentially in jeopardy, Nicolas Batum remains an important piece. Borrego says he’s going to count on Batum to capably guard this year, and states that Batum will initially play small forward. Tony Parker, meanwhile, believes Batum will have to play more aggressively, “[like] he is on the French National Team” for the Hornets to be successful.
The team recognizes Batum’s ability and unique playing style, and, more importantly, that he hasn’t been good enough the past two seasons.
Batum acknowledged as much, stating that aside from three days off after the season and a one week vacation this summer, he’s been working out. This echoes what he said on Chris Kroeger’s podcast earlier this summer, in which he admitted that he didn’t work hard enough last summer and took too much time off.
There’s always a few miscellaneous comments of note, so here are a few that stood out:
- Borrego and Walker both reaffirmed that Walker is part of the Hornets moving forward. It seems fairly clear that Walker wants to stay and Borrego wants him here. If he doesn’t come back, it’s probably because the front office decides to trade or not re-sign him next summer.
- JB believes Hernangomez is capable of averaging a double-double, but that it’s up to him to pressure the staff to play him.
- JB also believes rookie Miles Bridges has a chance to make the rotation, adding that he is “surprised” at how mature and ready Bridges is.
- There seems the a consensus among the staff and players that Devonte’ Graham could develop into a good player.
- Frank Kaminsky will likely be playing more center this season. He believes the three years at power forward will help him adapt defensively to the center spot, particularly as a perimeter defender.
- Marvin Williams is happy Tony Parker is here because he is no longer the oldest player on the team.