Going into last season, the Charlotte Hornets coaching staff promised a team that would play fast, move the ball, and shoot a lot of 3-pointers. That didn’t come to fruition, as the Hornets finished in the bottom ten in the league in pace and assist rate while shooting 3-pointers at just the eleventh highest rate.
We heard those same buzzwords this summer. Pace. Ball movement. Threes and layups. It was easy for those words to ring hollow after they didn’t come true last year, and that was only exacerbated by a roster constructed to lose a lot of games.
But the smallest of sample sizes suggests that the principles might have stuck. The team was as entertaining as general manager Mitch Kupchak promised, and they did all the things James Borrego said they would do.
In the first full slate of NBA games, the Hornets executed their principles to perfection. 22.8% of their possessions came in transition, the third most in the league. 24.6% of their possessions ended in spot up opportunities (most in the league), and a league high 50% of their field goal attempts came from behind the arc. They sacrificed post touches and shots out of the pick and roll to get those looks. Only two possessions were ended by Hornets post ups and only twelve by pick and roll ball handlers, both second fewest in the league.
The Hornets 19.3 assist ratio was the second best mark in the league and their 327 passes were the third most. The ball movement generated a all sorts of open looks. The Hornets attempted 20 wide open 3-pointers, making up 22.7% of their shot attempts. That percentage was third best in the league.
There are still plenty of kinks to work out. The Hornets turned the ball over on 18% of their possessions and gave up the highest offensive rebounding percentage in the league. But this is a young team. They’re bound to have issues taking care of the ball and being in the right place defensively. It’s only one game, but the Hornets showed enough to get us excited about what they can be as they figure themselves out.
All stats from nba.com/stats and do not include Thursday night’s games.