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Recap: Bouknight and Ball shine as Hornets drop summer league opener to Blazers, 93-86

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The Hornets struggled in many aspects, but they gave us plenty to be excited about after one game of summer league basketball.

2021 Las Vegas Summer League - Portland Trail Blazers v Charlotte Hornets Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images

The results of these games don’t matter as much as the individual storylines, so we’ll skip most of the play-by-play recap and focus on the main takeaways, but in short, the Charlotte Hornets fell behind earlier and yo-yoed between a double digit deficit and a one possession deficit for the rest of the game. The Blazers had an absurdly experienced summer league team, featuring players like Michael Beasley and Kenneth Faried. They also had George King and Anotnio Blakeney combine to score 44 points on 15-of-18 shooting, and that’s tough to overcome.

As for the Hornets, I have a few takeaways to talk about. Keep in mind that this is one summer league game, so there is no reason to have any strong takes. These are just initial thoughts.

  • James Bouknight looks like he’s gonna be a really good player. He took a while to get going, but he plays with a swagger and creativity that will serve him well as he gets comfortable. He only finished with one assist, but he made some really nice interior passes that we didn’t see much of at UConn. He led the team with 19 points.
  • Kai Jones is undeniably talented, but he needs to get more confident with his decision making. He threw down a number of dunks, but one or two came after pump faking in the paint for about five seconds. He had a couple of other possessions of that ilk that didn’t as well. But he did finish with a double double while flashing his athleticism and handle on the perimeter. Plus he did this:
  • Scottie Lewis was a real pest defensively, especially before he tweaked his ankle. However, he was a walking turnover on offense
  • Last year’s second round picks didn’t show much. Vernon Carey and Nick Richards were mostly nonfactors, which isn’t what you’d expect from second year players, even if they didn’t get much burn last season. Riller did a very good job of beating his man off the dribble and getting into the paint, but he was largely a nonfactor once he got there.
  • LiAngelo Ball was much more impressive than I expected. He was second on the team with 16 points, with all coming from behind the arc (plus one for a 4-point play). He has a very quick and confident release, and he plays hard on both ends even if he’s rather limited physically. He earned himself some late game minutes today, and we might see a little bit more of him going forward.