No player displays quite the uniqueness on the Charlotte Hornets roster than Dwayne Bacon.
The former second-round draft pick has played a style of basketball that’s almost nonexistent in the modern NBA. His ability to establish great footing off the dribble has made him undoubtedly the best isolation scorer on the team. Towards the latter half of last season, he showcased just how effective he can be with the ball in his hands.
Now, as the Hornets set to begin a new phase of basketball, Bacon has a great chance to grow into a new role next season.
Defensively, Bacon’s 6-foot-7 frame and 6-foot-10 wingspan gives him a great size advantage when matched up against opposing guards. He’s able to keep his positioning throughout each possession, and hardly ever gets stuck behind screen-and-rolls near the perimeter. Even at end-game scenarios, Bacon’s ability to lock in defensively in one-on-one situations contributed to many clutch stops last season.
His former college coach Leonard Hamilton has done an excellent job in molding Bacon’s defensive intensity and IQ at Florida State. Players like Jonathan Isaac, Malik Beasley, and Toney Douglas have gone through Hamilton’s program and produced a consistent motor on that end of the floor in the NBA.
This is why Bacon, with good reason, can become the team’s best defender out on the perimeter. If Nicolas Batum decides to go back to his natural small forward position next year, Bacon would be eyeing guards for the majority of the game. Doing so can help the Hornets limit their opponents’ best offensive perimeter player, resulting in better defensive possessions.
Offensively speaking, Bacon’s late outburst last year should be a sign of hope for Hornets fans. His ball-handling skills improved dramatically over his mediocre rookie year and he looked confident driving inside and scoring near the rim.
Outside the three-point line, Bacon dramatically increased his efficiency from that area last season. He went from shooting 26 percent his rookie year to making 44 percent of his attempts while draining in twice the amount of threes per game. His accuracy from deep was the best on the team last season, outshining Batum’s marksmanship by five percent.
With Kemba Walker gone, Bacon will get the green light by head coach James Borrego this season. This means he has no limit on his shot volume, leading to more chances to score in bunches. A role like this isn’t solely stemming from his offensive production, but where the team is situated currently.
Kemba took control of virtually every Hornets possession when he was on the court. Whether that was bringing the ball up from back court or scoring in a multitude of ways, the offense had been running through the guard for three years before he left for Boston. Obviously, Walker’s absence will lead to dozens of new possessions for others to control within each game.
As to how evenly these touches will be distributed, that’s up for debate. Will it be newly-acquired Terry Rozier to carry the offensive output or will Borrego and company shift towards their most versatile scorer on the team?
Whichever direction the team decides to go, Bacon will inevitably receive a drastic increase in scoring chances, hopefully leading to an increase in his points per game.
But more importantly, Bacon may be looked upon to be the Hornets closer in tight games due to the absence of Kemba. This isn’t foreign territory for Bacon, as he’s become the hero in many different games in his career. There isn’t a player besides Bacon on the current roster who has the three-way scoring ability he possesses. We may very well see the ball go into Bacon’s hands as games come down to their waning moments.
Dwayne Bacon is in prime position to take the reins of the Hornets offense. Compared to all the team’s guards, he has the most experience playing for the purple and teal. That experience combined with the new, motivational social media crusade he’s been posting, and you have a player ready to make a lot of noise this season.
Im prepared to shock alot of people!!!— 8God™ (@BaconDwayne1000) September 10, 2019