The Hornets played their first preseason game against the Toronto Raptors the other night, losing the contest by a score of 100-111. It was the first opportunity for Hornets fans to see some of the new players in action. While the game ended up in a loss, there were definitely some positives to note from the contest. Here are the top three highlights and lowlights to take away from the Hornets’ first preseason game.
Highlight #1: LaMelo Ball is electric
While Ball ended up going 0-5 from the field, he showed off exactly why the Hornets took him third overall in the draft. At 6’7” the point guard has some elite size, and his rebounding numbers reflected that. In the 16 minutes Ball played he managed to grab 10 rebounds, ripping them from whoever got in his way. What was even more impressive, however, were the passes he was able to make. Every time he passed the ball it would take a couple seconds for the camera to realize where it went because he’s so quick with his passes. He hit Miles Bridges with a slick behind the back pass which led to a finish, but the highlight of the night was a full court pass that the cameras actually missed. He’s going to be a must-watch attraction in Buzz City for years to come.
Lowlight #1: The Martin twins offensive struggles.
it pains me seeing that it was the martin twins https://t.co/i0noQb18kD— leooo⚡️ (@Salazaar0) December 13, 2020
Aside from one beautiful possession in the first quarter, the Martin twins were an offensive black hole. They played some stellar defense, which is something the Hornets definitely need, but offensively they left much to be desired. The pair combined to shoot 2-8 from the field with three assists and 10 points on the night. While this may not seem like the end of the world, what was super weird is the fact that they exclusively played with each other. The only time they thrived was whilst running the fast break with Ball, and other than that they were relatively useless. They were being treated like offensive focal points instead of role players, and the experiment didn’t go too well.
Highlight #2: Miles Bridges looks really good
Bridges was arguably the best player for the Hornets in this game, scoring 12 points on 5-10 shooting and 1-2 from deep. In addition to that he snagged five rebounds and dished out three dimes. His athleticism is as impressive as ever and he even gave us one of his classic highlight dunks. Bridges showed no fear attacking the rim, accepting any contact that he ran into. He even showed off his shot a little bit, nailing a nice little mid-range, along with a catch and shoot corner three. Bridges is starting his third season in the league with expectations as high as ever, and this game was a great indicator that everything is on the right track.
Lowlight #2: Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers
James Borrego said tonight was not the start he envisioned in regards to the high number of turnovers. It said it was due to sloppiness, lack of spacing, the increased pace, the guys not knowing each other too well yet, etc. #Hornets— Jack Duffy (@JackDuffySI) December 13, 2020
Despite a solid first quarter the Hornets were terrible at handling the ball against the Raptors. They finished the game with 22 turnovers on the night, with the worst offenders being Devonte’ Graham (4) and Ball (4). Fred VanVleet was a menace on defense, but a lot of their mishaps could have been easily avoided. Cody Zeller was pretty inconsistent when catching passes from the guards, but Graham and Ball also need to get better at making smart decisions. The team play overall just looked sloppy at times, and while James Borrego said that this was to be expected to start the year, it’s definitely something to try and fix immediately.
Highlight #3: Xavier Sneed is an absolute sniper
Xavier Sneed is here to get buckets and only to get buckets— At The Hive (@At_The_Hive) December 13, 2020
While he may not be on the Hornet’s official roster, Sneed signed a training camp deal with the Hornets after going undrafted out of Kansas State. He got just under nine minutes of playing time against the Raptors and made sure to use it well. He shot 2-3 of deep but was not afraid to pull the trigger. Both of his threes came from the left wing and as soon as the ball hit his hands it was gone. They weren’t exactly the easiest threes to hit either, both coming from well behind the three-point arc. There’s still one two-way slot left to fill in Charlotte and with the way he looked in this game he’s making sure he stays in the running for that spot.
Lowlight #3: Nick Richards couldn’t get anything to go
That's gonna be a double no from us, young fella pic.twitter.com/1nejvqWfGG— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) December 13, 2020
Richards showed off some great athleticism in this game but was unfortunately unable to get anything to fall. Every time he went up for a shot at the rim he was met with some great defense from the Raptors. In fact, the first three shots he took all got blocked at the rim. He did manage to grab two boards on the night, but it wasn’t enough to overshadow his problems on the offensive end. Maybe it was all the fault of Toronto’s great defense, but it was still upsetting to watch the rookie struggle in his first NBA game, even if it was just the preseason.
While they couldn’t get the win, just getting to watch Hornets basketball again was a breath of fresh air. Make sure to tune in on December 14th at 7:00 PM EST to watch them take on the Raptors again in preseason game number two of four.