James Bouknight has a new number on his jersey, and he’ll be hoping better times will come with it. He was never supposed to be a Hornet, as few mock drafts and projections had him falling far enough to for the Charlotte Hornets to select him 11th overall. The Hornets took him, passing up what general manager Mitch Kupchak said were more trade offers than he’s ever seen for a pick. With the the surprising pick came a lot of hype and expectations, but those expectations were never met.
Bouknight was not in the rotation for most of the season, and he struggled to find his footing when he did get minutes. He had one outburst against the Sacramento Kings where he scored a team high 24 points in a win. Other than that, it was a forgettable rookie season on the court. Off the court, Bouknight had a very public spat with head coach James Borrego on the bench, and that tension seemed to linger beyond that isolated incident.
But it’s a new season with a new head coach. Bouknight has spoken highly of new head coach Steve Clifford and seems to have put the past behind him. The Hornets still have almost the same roster as last season, so it’s still not a given that he’ll be able to crack the regular rotation. He’ll need to show the scoring ability that he had in college to earn himself a spot, but he’s struggled to get into a rhythm through two preseason games.
The questionable health and planned load management of Gordon Hayward will open some minutes. Plus the Hornets will probably have to go shift some players around positionally without Miles Bridges around. I’d expect Bouknight to be on the fringes of the rotation with some somewhat regular minutes, though they’ll probably not be super heavy until he shows he deserves them.