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The beautiful ball movement of the Charlotte Hornets

Why great passing is the key to winning for the Hornets

Houston Rockets v Charlotte Hornets Photo by Kent Smith/NBAE via Getty Images

It’s no secret that the Hornets are an extremely fun team to watch right now. LaMelo Ball is making headlines every game, Gordon Hayward is playing great basketball, and Terry Rozier is having one of those stretches where he just can’t miss. While all of these are valid reasons to want to watch the Hornets, there’s one thing that stands out in particular - the ball movement.

Charlotte has been one of the best passing teams all season long. They currently sit at second in the league in assists per game (27.5) and number one in total passes per game (307.7). This is a massive improvement to last season where, while they were fourth in passes made per game (307.6), they ranked 21st in assists per game (23.8). The additions of Hayward and Ball have definitely had a major impact on this improvement, the team as a whole is just doing a much better job of moving the ball.

The success goes beyond just the simple passing stats, too. On drives, the Hornets rank top ten in the league in both passes out of drives (21.8) and assists created off drives (5.0). Due to this elite ball movement, the Hornets are also sixth in the league in catch and shoot field goal percentage (39.9%) and catch and shoot three-point percentage (40.4%). Last of all, the Hornets get more touches than any other team in the league (431.1).

The way they move the ball is just a beautiful thing to watch, and it was most evident in the first quarter of their loss to the Spurs. Rozier went off for a 16-point quarter, but it wasn’t all him doing the work. He was running all over the floor, yes, but the rest of the team was constantly moving the ball trying to get him the best looks possible. The Hornets finished with seven assists in the first quarter alone.

This beautiful ball movement is so key in the Hornets’ game-plan, that it’s become one of the main reasons they win or lose a game. As mentioned, they are averaging 27.5 assists per game this season. Well, then they have 27 or more assists in a game, they are 10-7 on the year. On the other hand, when they record less than 27 assists, they are 3-8. A huge gap in success when they fail to move the ball well enough.

With Hayward, Ball, and Devonte’ Graham all being elite playmakers, the Hornets should be able to generate this level of offense on a consistent basis. Their key to winning is passing the ball well, and it ‘s clear to see that James Borrego has put a huge emphasis on that when watching the games. No matter who’s having a hot shooting night, the game-plan is always to move the ball and find the best look. That’s how the Hornets have been winning, and will continue to win games this season.