We will forego a recap of the Charlotte Hornets preseason finale (that the Hornets lost by 68 points somehow). Instead, we’re to recap what we learned from the totality of the four games the Hornets played.
- LaMelo Ball looks more aggressive as a scorer. Ball was a lot more aggressive hunting for his shot, to mixed results. The 3-pointer wasn’t there, but he looks stronger and more comfortable in traffic. He hit several mid-range jump shots throughout the course of the preseason, which is something we didn’t really see from him last season. His release also looks more consistent than it did last year. And on top of all that, he still brings the transcendent instincts and passing ability that make him so great.
- Terry Rozier and Gordon Hayward are very important to the Hornets half court offense. The Hornets struggled in the half court for much of the preseason. Some of that can be attributed to the lack of offensive sets run, but some is due to the absence of key veterans. Hayward is good for some iso buckets in the post, and Terry Rozier adds another ball handler and confident shooter on the perimeter. With both out, the Hornets were lacking in dynamism when the game slowed down.
- Miles Bridges looks ready to build off his strong finish to last season. He hasn’t found his groove from deep yet, but Bridges looks like the player we saw late last season. He looks as comfortable as ever with the ball in his hands. He can be a very, very good third or fourth scoring option with the potential to go off on any given night. And the Ball-Bridges connection is going to be incredible to watch this season; their chemistry is very apparent.
- The rookies are a mixed bag. James Bouknight looks ready to contribute, at least sporadically. He led the Hornets in scoring during the preseason, though many of his points game deeper into games. He’ll need to continue growing into an off ball role, but the potential is there. Kai Jones and the second rounders have a longer way to go. None of them received many minutes during the preseason, and none of them did anything to suggest that they deserved more.
- Nick Richards seems to be winning the battle between he and Vernon Carey, and that’s probably not be a good thing. Richards dominated the backup center minutes in the preseason, but he did not really do anything with those minutes. It looks like we’re set for another season of lamenting the Hornets’ lack of depth at the five.
- Cody Martin may yet develop some offense. Martin scored in double figures twice in four games. In the regular season, he’s done that nine times in 100 games. He looks more confident shooting from deep, and if he can be respectable as a scorer, he’ll be a very good bench piece.
The Hornets have a week to get healthy and get ready for their regular season opener on October 20th against the Pacers. We’ve heard that the loss to the Pacers to end last season has been a motivating factor for players this past offseason, and they’ll get a chance to exact immediate revenge on opening night.