There have been a number of individual successes this year for the Charlotte Hornets. Devonte’ Graham has a strong argument to be the NBA’s Most Improved Player. Terry Rozier has pumped in over 18 points per game while shooting better than 40 percent from the three-point line. Miles Bridges and P.J. Washington are both averaging over 12 points and five rebounds per game despite being barely old enough to drink alcohol. Both Caleb Martin and Cody Martin were looking like actual NBA players just before the season stopped.
While those individual successes are great the Hornets still need to come together as a team. Looking into the future one of the areas Charlotte needs to significantly improve is defensive rebounding. At the time the season was suspended the Hornets had the NBA’s worst defensive rebounding percentage, meaning they snagged the lowest percentage of available defensive rebounds in the league.
The main culprits for the inability to clean the defensive glass are centers Cody Zeller and Bismack Biyombo. When it comes to their individual defensive rebound percentages there is a lot to be desired. As a frame of reference, Andre Drummond, the NBA’s leading rebounder, snags over 37 percent of available defensive rebounds. Zeller and Biyombo both post individual defensive rebounding percentages of just 21 percent. Then add the fact that P.J. Washington and Miles Bridges only post defensive rebounding percentages of about 16 percent and that’s a recipe for team rebounding disaster. The Hornet with the best defensive rebounding percentage is Willy Hernangomez at nearly 28 percent, but he’s not on the floor enough to make a difference.
Defensive rebounding is especially important for younger teams like the Hornets. Every offensive rebound they give up requires them to repeat a complicated defensive sequences of switches, hedges, communication, and positioning. It usually takes years for a team to form a solid defensive identity and Coach Borrego’s troops don’t have the advantage of experience just yet. For now the best thing they can do to improve their defense is to play less of it by preventing offensive rebounds.
In addition to fostering the individual development of players, the Hornets front office also needs to build a team. There have been many success stories this year that point to a brighter future in Charlotte. Looking into the future, finding players and strategies to improve defensive rebounding will help the Hornets develop as a contending team.