I don’t want this to come off as divisive or controversial, but here I go: three-point shooting is important for an NBA team. Is that all right for me to say? I’m gonna imagine that you’re nodding your head in agreement. Thanks. Let’s get down to business.
Since our Hornets are an NBA team, James Borrego is gonna have to piece together some sort of lineup that will consist of the team’s best shooters so they can take (and hopefully make) a lot of three-pointers. Whether that be out of an ATO (after time-out) set, when the team is down big and needs to score in a hurry, or at the end of a game when a three is needed to either tie or win.
The Hornets already have two pre-season games in the books, so we have seen the slightest bit of who might be the better/worse shooters on the team. This is what I’d imagine coach Borrego will trot out on the floor when the team needs to hit some threes;
*All statistics pulled from basketball-reference.com*
Guard: Terry Rozier III - Over the last two seasons, Terry Rozier has averaged 36.7% from beyond the arc, which lands him just above the league-average for three-point shooters. As one can imagine, his career-high of 38.1% came during the 2017-2018 season when he was Boston’s starting point guard for a few months. League-average numbers are just that — average —but Rozier will fire with no hesitation from three and will never lack confidence. As he continues to develop his shooting touch, that’s all you can hope for.
Guard: Caleb Martin - It was tough deciding between Caleb Martin or Malik Monk for this spot, but Monk and Rozier are more similar in playing style than Martin and Rozier, so I stuck with Martin despite him coming to Charlotte as an undrafted rookie. What made me lean towards Caleb, twin brother of Hornets second-round pick Cody Martin, was that he has shot marginally better than Monk has over the last two seasons, accounting for the fact that his three-point shot was a bit closer due to him being in college. He hit 40.1% of his threes his junior season at Nevada, and came out firing in the pre-season game Sunday, going 2-5, while Monk sat out another game with an injury. At this point, Martin is probably the more-reliable option.
Wing: Dwayne Bacon - For some reason, Dwayne Bacon doesn’t shoot a lot of threes. He went 11-43 on them in year one, and 38-87 in year two. Even with the sizable percentage jump in his sophomore campaign, he only averaged two attempts per game. It’d be really interesting to see Bacon start taking more threes, and less of those free-throw line pull-ups that he’s fond of. It’s a small sample size, but his shot form is solid and his improvement from one year to the next says that he’s a bit more reliable than someone like Nic Batum or Miles Bridges in this situation.
Forward: Marvin Williams - In the twilight of his career, Marvin Williams has turned himself into the prototypical stretch-big. He’s shot over 40% from three twice since he arrived in Charlotte, and has never dipped below 35%. So far, this three-point lineup is extremely youthful, so Williams’ veteran presence would be helpful if they were to be on the floor for more than a few minutes. Not to mention, he might be the best shooter from distance on the team, and he takes the most of them, too.
Center: PJ Washington Jr. - The Hornets’ rookie lottery pick could quietly have one of the more-productive rookie seasons of anyone from the 2019 draft class. He was 3-4 in the game against the Celtics, and shot 42.3% from beyond the arc at Kentucky last season. He’s a versatile inside-out big man that can hit an array of jump-shots. I’d have no problems throwing Washington on the floor in crunch time when the team needs a three; not only because he can shoot, but because he’d scrap for the (potential) offensive rebound and look for the kick-out opportunity, too.
The only honorable mention I could think of for this lineup was Thomas Welsh, who was brought over from Denver after adding a three-point shot to his game within the last two seasons. He shot one three from his freshman through junior year at UCLA, and then took 112 his senior year. Jon and Zach talked about it on the At the Hive podcast, but he could be a discount-version of Frank Kaminsky this season if things go well for him.