The Charlotte Hornets have struggled thus far in Summer League. They are 0-3 through their first three games, although their last game vs the Spurs was nothing short of a classic. Despite this team-level disappointment, there have been some good things to take away from it.
As individuals, some of the Hornets players have impressed so far. What are five takeaways people should have so far?
1. Kai Jones is as advertised - an athletic monster
The Kai Jones show is a real thing. Not only should Hornets fans be excited about Jones’ talent, but the whole league should be. His Summer League highlights have taken over social media, and he’s only played three games.
He has also been able to find some success playing power forward. Ideally, the Hornets should run him at the center, but his quickness and athleticism make him more than capable of running the four. Hopefully, Jones will be able to provide Hornets fans with highlights for years to come.
2. The potential is there for JT Thor to be great
JT Thor hasn’t shown too much in Summer League so far in terms of statistical success. However, it is clear to see what kind of player he has the potential to become. He’s an athletic four/five that can play great defense and, if he improves enough, can hit open threes.
On paper, his skillset sounds very similar to that of Kai Jones. Honestly, they are very similar players. The one difference is that Thor has the potential to be a great interior and perimeter defender. Jones’ main focus will likely always be protecting the paint. Spending some quality time in the G-League this season will benefit Thor greatly.
3. LiAngelo Ball might actually make the roster
When the Hornets signed LiAngelo Ball to a Summer League deal, some people probably saw it more as a publicity stunt. However, through the first few games, Ball has been seriously impressive. He’s a great shooter who is completely unafraid of letting the ball go as soon as it touches his hands.
In the first three games, Ball has averaged 11.3 points on 44.4% shooting from deep. Considering he’s averaging six threes per game, that’s some amazing efficiency. The Hornets have shooters on their roster, but with Devonte’ Graham and Malik Monk gone, they could use more. If Ball can keep up this level of consistency, there’s no reason he couldn’t make the Hornets’ final roster this season.
4. Xavier Sneed could be something
Though he is only averaging four points per game, Xavier Sneed looks like an actual NBA player out there. Similar to LiAngelo Ball, he is not afraid to pull up from range in any scenario. During their game vs San Antonio, there were multiple times where Sneed shot the ball with a hand directly in his face. The most impressive part is that he still makes the shot.
His jump shot is gorgeous, and seemingly undeterred by pressure from defenders. On top of that, Sneed is also a very energetic defender. He is constantly getting into the face of the opponent on the perimeter. He’s not elite in that regard yet, but the potential is there for him to be a solid defender on the outside.
5. James Bouknight is the real deal.
Charlotte selected James Bouknight with the 11th overall pick in this year’s draft. Many believed this was a steal, as Bouknight was projected to be taken as high as sixth overall. Well, luckily for the Hornets, he is living up to the hype so far.
Though he struggled in their first game, Bouknight played extremely well vs San Antonio. He put up 23 points, four rebounds, and eight assists. He started off slow, but once he got going it was impossible to stop him.
Coming out of the draft, Bouknight was touted simply as “a bucket.” While he is very much that, there’s a lot more to take away from his game. Most notably, he has great vision and is totally capable of taking on ball-handling duties. Those eight assists he had were well deserved as he was able to find teammates all over the court.
Bouknight is the perfect replacement for Malik Monk right now and has the potential to be so much more. He will fit right in next to LaMelo Ball on the court. His ability to go out there and just score at will is something that cannot be taught.