There is a saying, “Your only good as your record,” but in this case the new and rebuilding Hornets should get a pass. Of course finishing the preseason with a 1-4 record doesn’t really dictate how impressive the young talent that absorbs this roster has played.
The Hornets have showed flashes throughout their short time on the court together during the bubble-like atmosphere. Something besides Gordon Hayward, no other Hornet has dealt with. Playing with no fans will seem odd for a while, but once the bright lights start for opening week the talent will appear brighter than ever.
A group of voters, including NBA general managers, recently voted Hornets’ Lamelo Ball likely to win NBA Rookie of the year. Why? The 6’7 rookie has turned heads with his passing ability and energy on the floor throughout the first four games. Ball, who is a pass first point guard (like his brother Lonzo), has caught the attention of NBA veterans and former players such a Dwayne Wade who tweeted out “Not so Breaking News: Lamelo Ball is a problem.”
Good: Real recognize real. Balls’ court awareness, IQ in running the primary & secondary break and feeding the open man in the half court set is substantially great. He has demonstrated the willingness to get others involved, rather than score for himself. Against the Raptors, Coach Borrego was seen telling Lamelo to take the open shot, because he’s been reluctant to shoot. For a rookie, the attribute of being so composed already is a benefit for LaMelo. Doesn’t seem rattled in the open court.
Bad: Areas of concern for Ball include being to conservative at finding his shot, aggressiveness attacking the paint and playing defense. Not so much playing defense, but communicating and talking on defense. While Ball shooting percentage hasn’t matched his passing ability, he will have to be consistent with his midrange versus throwing the floater. In his preseason finale Ball shot 1-10 from the field, including 0-4 from downtown. Opposing coaches will bait him to shoot. Moreover, teams will make him the focal point – forcing him to score and collapsing on the other shooters for the Hornets.
UGLY: Gordon Hayward who suffered an avulsion fracture of his pinky is expected to be ready for the season opener versus the Cavaliers. His shooting, veteran leadership, play-making abilities and getting the young guys acquainted with the speed of the NBA pace are reasons why MJ paid $120 Million to bring him in. Durability has always been a thorn in the side for Hayward.
Cutting out turnovers, both in transition and in their offensive sets, are points of emphasis – dictating whether the Hornets can compete for a 8th seed in the east. The talent is on the roster, with Rozier and Graham expected to lead the backcourt. Gordon Hayward, if healthy, should average 20 and 6 respectfully. PJ Washington with another year under his belt and working on the pick and pop 3, should elevate his game in year 2. Lamelo is the X-factor. He is the engine that will help this team go. Tempo and being aggressive, not backing down to teams that will purposely gun for you due to your last name will tell the story for how fast he picks up the work and grind of being in the NBA.