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Final takeaways from Hornets Summer League

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The Hornets didn't win a game, but they gave us plenty to talk about in their five summer league contests.

2021 Rookie Photo Shoot Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images

Summer League has come and gone, and the Charlotte Hornets leave Las Vegas without a single win. There were ups and downs and more downs. But this was never about the wins and losses. It was about the team, and we as fans, seeing what the Hornets have in the youth that's in the pipeline. So with that, here are my final takeaways from the preseason.

  • James Bouknight looks ready to contribute right away. The 11th overall pick showed a lot of creativity as a finisher and flashed some catch-and-shoot prowess in his final appearance. He displayed a lot more passing vision than he did in college as well. He needs to get out of the habit of over-dribbling, but that should be a little easier when surrounded by better players.
  • Kai Jones has all the physical tools in the world, but he's got a long way to go as a decision maker. Jones showed what makes him so intriguing with some huge dunks off straight line drives and the occasional successful coast-to-coast attack. He also splashed a three in the Hornets final game. However, he had way too many reckless turnovers and bad shot attempts. He can be a contributor to the Hornets pretty quickly, but he needs to be limited to a strictly catch and finish role right now. Anything beyond that is still a ways away.
  • The Hornets 2021 second round picks look promising. JT Thor is super rangy and has a nice looking stroke from deep. He scored in double figures in each of the Hornets final three games and rebounded very well. Scottie Lewis looks like a menace defensively and showed improved play making and jump shooting as the summer league went along.
  • The Hornets 2020 second round picks don't look as good. Vernon Carey Jr. was fine but not spectacular. Nick Richards played poorly for the most part, showing shaky hands and lower energy than you'd like out of a guy who needs to contribute as an energy big. Grant Riller had some okay moments but didn't show much of anything that would separate him from any other G League point guard.
  • LiAngelo Ball is a legitimate professional basketball player. The Hornets probably don't have room for him on the main roster, but he should stick around in Greensboro. He's a confident 3-point shooter and shot well before a rough final outing. He plays hard and competes on defense and on the boards.
  • Arnoldas Kulboka probably isn't going to be as impactful as many had anticipated. He'll probably be better surrounded by NBA players, but he was a low volume shooter in the summer league. He made some nifty passes but showed no ability to score outside of catch-and-shoot situations. He also had plenty of struggles defensively against competition that was much weaker than what he'll see at the NBA level.
  • The Swarm probably need to look elsewhere for a starting point guard. As mentioned above, Riller wasn't great. DJ Carton showed some impressive quickness, but he did not orchestrate the offense very well.