All the turnover the Charlotte Hornets went through in the offseason left the team with a very different bench mob.
The main questions surrounding the second unit center around the rookies and where they’ll find their minutes. PJ Washington showed well in his preseason debut, but he has to compete with veterans Marvin Williams and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist for minutes. Cody Martin hasn’t shown as well so far, but the coaching staff seems to like what he brings to the table.
When the season starts, these players are likely six through ten in the rotation:
- Devonte’ Graham
- Malik Monk
- PJ Washington
- Marvin Williams
- Willy Hernangomez
That five doesn’t really fit as its own lineup, so it’ll have to be staggered with the starters to make it all work.
With Tony Parker retired, the backup point guard spot is Graham’s job to lose. He struggled with efficiency last season, but he’s a nice player to have on the court. His outside shooting should normalize this season (he shot 38% from three in 13 G League appearances) and he’s probably the best pure passer on the team. His size limits him defensively, but he works hard. He’s got a good chance to grow into this role and establish himself as the team’s backup point guard of the future.
One of the most polarizing players on the Hornets roster, Monk enters a make-or-break third season with the team. He has little competition for minutes on a roster with low expectations. If he can’t thrive in this situation, it’s hard to see him thriving in any situation. He brings the best scoring punch on this second unit, but he has to learn to defend and play efficient offensive basketball.
Washington might struggle to find minutes early on. He plays the same position as Marvin Williams, who’s all but guaranteed a spot in the rotation, and may have to stave off Michael Kidd-Gilchrist for the scraps. He looked ready in his first preseason game, but it’s only preseason. His case is helped by his ability to play small ball five for stretches, which provides him a clearer path to minutes against certain match-ups.
Williams has started all 310 games that he’s been available in the last four seasons. He seems destined for a bench role this season as the Hornets give Miles Bridges more minutes at the four spot. Williams will surely be fine with this move, and he’ll bring some veteran leadership to a second unit that is all age 25 and under.
Like Malik Monk, Hernangomez enters a pivotal season with the Hornets. He’s on the last year of his deal and is still yet to solidify himself as a permanent rotation player. He can score and he can rebound. The question will always be whether or not he can defend well enough to stay on the court. If he can, the Hornets have a very good piece at the center spot moving forward.
Cody Martin will probably find minutes, especially without any other true backup wings on the roster. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist looks like the odd man out at the forward spot, but he’ll likely carve out some minutes here and there, especially when the team needs a jolt of energy. Same goes for Bismack Biyombo, who will spell Cody Zeller and Hernangomez when the former is injured and the latter is not playing defense.