CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - For the Charlotte Hornets, the stoppage of the season due to COVID-19 could not have come at a worse time. They had won 2 of their last 3 games including a road win at Miami the day before the season was put on pause.
One of the biggest reasons for their success was the fact that this team liked hanging out with each other. Now they are in a time of social distancing and the coaches are trying to continue to strengthen that team bonds anyway they can.
“To have that come to a halt has been difficult," said Charlotte Hornets head coach James Borrego. “Especially the young guys, they live in apartments by themselves and you can be very disengaged at a time like this, but not we got to get creative.”
So Borrego and his coaching staff are doing a lot of zoom calls and getting the guys together virtually to make sure the good vibes keep going until they can all get back together as a team.
“We are making sure they have what they need, making sure they are mentally sharp, and challenging them mentally,” said coach. “Sending them videos, sending them challenges, sending them some old video of players they might remind me of and that’s been a lot of fun. We miss each other and this is something new for us because we spend so much time together.”
Of course this is the first season since the all-time leading scorer in franchise history, Kemba Walker, has been out the building at the Spectrum Center as he is now a Boston Celtic.
“I think we are in a very good place,” said coach.
How can coach Borrego say that when his young team is 23-42? Because they are just that, YOUNG. According to most experts, they were suppose to be the worst team in the NBA.
“We didn’t hear that,” said coach. “We just moved forward and we got better throughout the season so I’m proud of where we are at. There’s a bright future in front of us starting with our young guys. We’ve built a nice nucleus here of guys who have shown they belong.”
And the numbers speak to that fact. The Hornets have six players who are averaging 10 points or more. Of those six, only two, Cody Zeller and Terry Rozier, have been in the league more than three years. The leading scorer is 2nd year point guard Devonte’ Graham as he is averaging 18 points per game. Miles Bridges has taken a big leap as he went from averaging 7 points points per game as a rookie to 13 points per game in his second season. Rookie PJ Washington has a shot at being on the 1st team all-rookie team this season as he is averaging 12 points and 5 rebounds. The Martin twins, Caleb and Cody, are developing at a fast rate as rookies in the NBA. Yes, the future is indeed bright with all the young talent flashing for this team.
The NBA could open some practice facilities around the league by as early as Friday. The Hornets will not open their practice facility at the Spectrum Center until the stay at home order is lifted in North Carolina. Whenever they are allowed to return to the court, this team will be ready to get back and continue their youth movement. Take it a step further and there are few other things fans should be very excited about when it comes to the building of this new core of the Charlotte Hornets.
“We are going to have a very high pick in the draft. We are going to have the second highest amount of money in free agency so it allows flexibility. More than anything, our young guys are getting better. They’re ready to make the next step. We have the right character guys in house and we’re going to build around that.”