The Charlotte Hornets folded during this year’s trade deadline. They were the only eastern conference team that didn’t make any transaction before the February 7th, 3 pm cutoff point. There are many reasons to believe why Mitch Kupchak and company didn’t pull the trigger, but I’ll only be getting to one today. That was the fact that the team’s “tradeable” pieces didn’t have the same market value as the Hornets would’ve hoped for. As a result, teams were, in my eyes, reluctant to bring in some of the heavier and longer-term contracts on that the Charlotte has on their roster.
But, there is a silver lining in all of this. That is the young assets that the Hornets were able to keep on their roster. Charlotte didn’t go “all-in” and make a move for a guy that, if became injured, would’ve looked like a monumental mistake for them. The Marc Gasol rumor is a prime example of this. Sure, the Hornets weren’t able to snag the 34-year-old center, but they were still able to maintain a well-eclipsed player in Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who was reported to be in a potential trade
Don’t get me wrong, the team should have made moves to find a number two option for point guard Kemba Walker. But they didn’t, and we must now focus internally instead of externally to help fix the issues surrounding this organization.
There has been one player that has been out of the rotation for practically the entire year, who, I believe, can help spark a new light and enthusiasm.
That player is Dwayne Bacon.
Bacon has simply fallen under the logjam of wings that the Hornets have on their roster. Miles Bridges has shown great flashes of potential and should be considered a core piece moving forward. Jeremy Lamb has been on another tear this season, being the second-best scorer behind Walker. With the addition of Tony Parker and Devonte Graham in the mix at point guard, it’s safe to say that the former 11th overall pick Malik Monk should also be considered a wing player in this scenario.
Despite the clear level of talent between these three players, there is one thing that they seem to all miss: consistency. Especially in the case of Monk, who, although being on a tear as of late, hasn’t been able to find stable ground. Monk has nights where the basket looks twice as wide, but there are other nights that he simply can’t hit a shot from anywhere. Bridges and Lamb could also be argued to be in this category, having nights of scoring in bunches, to games of being a true mess on offense.
This is where Dwayne Bacon prove most useful. His skill as an above-average defender would be extremely valuable against guard-heavy teams. By placing him at the two-spot, where he would have a clear height advantage at 6’7”, it would cause more limitations for the opposing team, especially near the perimeter. These defensive reps may lead to him developing a more effective defensive switch tactic, which would be beneficial if he gets matched up against anyone one through three. Bacon seems to never take plays off and always looks to be locked in on that end of the floor. He is as consistent as they get as a wing defender.
Bacon has also turned a new leaf in his offensive production. Earning more time in the Greensboro Swarm has expanded his ability with the ball in hands. His rookie season was shaky at best, as despite starting in the first six games of that season, he was never able to become a three-tier scorer. Most of that was due to his outside shot, as he only hit 25 percent from that area.
But, it looks like he turned to what made him so successful at Florida State: his mid-range game. Pulling up from that area at a high volume is seen as a “bad shot” in today’s “dunk or three” game. Bacon has gone against the modern fad and has made himself quite deadly from that area. Able to create his shot off the dribble has lead to a lot of step-back jumpers, of which he’s drained a large number of. Although the three-point shot is still not where you would like it, (24 percent at Greensboro), he still remains an inside scorer.
Driving inside for a regularly-performed baseline layup has been a strong suit for Bacon’s shot chart. Using his highly-developed handles, he is able to beat his defenders one-on-one and become an effective slasher if need be. He has been getting to the foul line too, as he’s shooting four shots per game for the Swarm. This style of play has also given him the reputation of being an iso-scorer, but that might be just what the Charlotte Hornets need.
That is because that “iso-mentality” has proven to be successful for Bacon and the Swarm. In the twelve games started, he has averaged 20 points and seven rebounds per game. This is while being the third option behind fellow Hornet Devonte Graham and Swarm center Chinua Okanua.
The Hornets need a new kickstart on their team. One who could bring the little things that others don’t do, but have proven to be successful. With James Borrego now earning the reputation of configuring interesting yet abnormal lineups at times, it begs to question why can’t those waiting in the wings get their shot?
By playing Bacon alongside both Bridges and Kidd-Gilchrist, the Hornets can become a deadly unit both defensively and on the board. All three are capable of guarding positions one through three, and playing this trio simultaneously could prove as a real hassle for the opponent.
As for who he would replace on the bench, there is one way Borrego could use his creativity. A lineup of Parker, Monk, Bacon, Bridges, and MKG should be a unit that the team should definitely consider. If there’s an obvious need to defend a big man inside, then simply swap MKG for Bismack Biyombo. This group of five on the bench would lead to a faster-paced and wing-heavy rebounding group. For a Charlotte Hornets team that sits at a mediocre mark, a new jolt may be the factor that drives this team forward.
The Hornets have a reliable asset waiting on the bench in Dwayne Bacon, it’s time for them to start using it.