We were finally graced with the start of the NBA season, with its arrival delivering joy, hype, and a side of yams to all of its starving fans. The Charlotte Hornets opened their season with a 90-102 loss in Detroit against the Pistons, with the game being the first in Little Ceasar Arena’s history. They followed that with a comeback victory against the Atlanta Hawks in their home opener.
As excited as we are for the season, and yes that excitement includes the potential of rookie Malik Monk bringing home the Rookie of the Year Award, we have to temper our expectations. The team has a slew of question marks surrounding it and we won’t really find out if this offseason was a success until playoff time.
With that, here is one unique thing each starting play could improve.
It was as clear as ever that Kemba Walker is still the best player in the Hornets’ lineup in their opening games, but even the franchise superstar has some work to do.
Often, Walker will elect to drive to the basket and drive, usually drawing a foul. He did this several times against the Pistons with success. However, there were many times he ended up just falling on the floor while the ball was being passed back in transition for a Detroit fastbreak.
As a point guard, especially one of his size, it is the right move for Kemba to take advantage of his height difference and draw contact. There will always be an opportunity for that but Walker missed an abundance of quality passing options when he decided to just drive from the get-go.
It usually happens on the fast break when the easiest option is to drive and get the foul, but if Walker were to slow things down he would notice he is missing some favorable matchups or open shots. I understand he is the type of player to put everything on his back, but he needs to trust his teammates more and realize that passing first might result in points rather than a turnover.
Could you maybe just shoot a regular layup every once in a while?
While Jeremy Lamb recorded a productive opening night, scoring 15 points while going 7/8 from the line, he did it off an incredibly poor 4/10 shooting. The reason for this? I don’t think I saw Lamb cut to the basket and attempt a regular layup under the rim. Every single shot inside 10 feet of the rim was a high-release floater. The exact same thing happened against Atlanta, where Lamb continuously shot a floater from five feet out, rather than driving.
There is nothing wrong with opting for a floater if the defense is crowding under the rim, but that is all Lamb was attempting. You have to take what the defense gives you, but there is no reason why he should be shooting more floaters than under-the-rim shots in a game, especially if those floaters aren’t really working.
Lamb will play a major part in the starting lineup with all of Charlotte’s injuries, so it might be in his best interest to tighten up his inside game.
Honestly, there is really nothing Dwight Howard did wrong in his first two games wearing a teal jersey. 10 points, 15 rebounds, and two blocks is the exact kind of stat line Charlotte was always missing in games last year. He killed it both offensively and defensively. He then followed that performance with a 20-15 game. Phew.
But, there is still room for improvement. A major excitement factor in Howard’s arrival would be his ability to catch alley-oop passes. We did not see one in the two games. Obviously, it’s just two games but that move could be a huge game changer if executed well. Howard and Walker need to practice it thoroughly and be on the same page to run that kind of play at any given time.
Not only would it get Howard further into the scoring column, it could centralize the defense. If the defense is too worried about protecting the rim from a lob, there is almost bound to be someone outside with an open shot, especially in transition.
Through the first two games, Marvin Williams has not produced much offensively, averaging 3.5 points per game. It’s early, but he has only made two of eight of his three-point shot attempts in his first two games.
Williams is a solid rebounder and the team relies on his ability to make the open shots, which he has not been able to do. He is starting in a lineup full of injuries, so there is no reason he should be playing bad. Hitting his threes is the most important thing he could contribute to the team. Without them, the team tends to fall behind in games.
He will get into a rhythm as the season goes on, but right now he just needs to continue to shoot and find his zen.
Dwayne Bacon already has a lot of pressure starting as a rookie, and he has filled the role quite well so far. He shot 50% from the field in their first game, knocking down two three-point shots, while scoring six points and grabbing 11 boards in the home opener.
While his looks are good early on, he needs to shoot more. He only shot the ball a combined 10 times in the first two games, which is not nearly enough for the starting shooting guard. Add on Malik Monk’s scoring troubles and it calls for Bacon to generate more offense.
He is confident early, so he should carry on his poise and shoot his shot. Even if his percentages decrease, the more shots from Bacon the better. Kemba Walker needs someone else helping out from beyond the arc.
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