The preseason has come and gone. We now have a week of dead air to fill while we wait for the real basketball to tip off next week. The NBA opens its regular season slate on Tuesday, while the Charlotte Hornets and most of the rest of the league get started on Wednesday.
The break gives a chance to pore over five game’s worth of data and try to project it to the regular season. It’s a fool’s errand, but we’re going to do it anyway. Here’s what we can expect based on this preseason.
PJ Washington is for real
There were more groans than shouts of excitement when the Hornets selected Washington with the twelfth overall pick in June’s draft. It’s not that people thought Washington was a bad player. He just wasn’t exciting, especially with unknown yet tantalizing talents like Sekou Doumbouya, Bol Bol, Kevin Porter, et al still on the board.
Washington has quickly reshaped the narrative surrounding him. He was the only Hornet to score in double figures in every preseason game and ticked just about every box you want to see from any player, not just a rookie. James Borrego has had nothing but glowing praise for him and there’s a very real chance he’s an opening night starter.
Terry Rozier is ready to lead
There were legitimate questions about how Rozier would function as the lead dog on a young rebuilding team. He looked ready for the part. He played under control and displayed some crafty passing ability in the paint. He averaged 15.3 points and 5.0 assists per game in the preseason, leading the team in both catergories. He did so efficiently, shooting 49.0% from the field and 46.7% from three.
Devonte’ Graham is going to score some points
Graham was arguably the team’s best passer last season, but he struggled to put the ball in the basket. That doesn’t look like it’ll be the case this season. The second year pro connected on 50% of his field goal attempts and 40% of his 3-point attempts despite mixing in quite a few difficult shots. Just look at the second quarter against the Grizzlies where he poured in four jumpers (including two from deep) as an indicator of what he’s capable of.
Malik Monk might be ready
After three ho-hum games to start the preseason, Monk looked like a star in the preseason finale against the Pistons. In 23 minutes of action, he led the team with 18 points and seven assists. It wasn’t just the production though. It didn’t come from a flurry of ill advised decisions that went right for him, which was often the case with his previous outbursts. He was composed the entire night and made good decisions. If he can play that style of basketball consistently, the Hornets will have a big piece for their future.
This Hornets team will be fun most nights, even if they’re not winning games
This roster is full of youth and energy. In the NBA, that usually means a lot of losses. But the makeup of this team should make it enjoyable to watch, even if the losses mount. They play fast and they play together. The team is littered with explosive athletes that are sure to make plenty of highlight reels. If we’re going to be subjected to a lot of losses, the least we can hope for is that the games are entertaining. It looks like we’re going to get that.