Charlotte Hornets Looking to Shake Up Flawed Roster

  • By cvbizz
  • January 4, 2021
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James Borrego didn’t sound postgame like a coach on the verge of lineup changes. Borrego said it’s on him to figure how to break point guard Devonte Graham from a brutal shooting slump. The Charlotte Hornets lost to the Philadelphia 76ers and Memphis Grizzlies on back-to-back nights. Starting point guard Graham shot 2-of-20 in those games, 2-of-12 from 3-point range. That won’t cut it long haul. On Friday, Borrego said he’d give consideration to starting rookie LaMelo Ball. Then, before and after Saturday’s game, Borrego signaled he doesn’t want to “overreact” six games into the Hornets’ season.“It’s on me to try to help Devonte. He’s going to do his part, he’s going to put his work in. His shots will fall,” Borrego said.“I’ve got to find ways to get him better looks, open looks.”Graham is shooting 25% from the field and 29% from 3-point range. A season removed from being a Most Improved Player candidate, he is having a nightmare start. Teammate Terry Rozier (35 points Saturday) thinks the misses are now piling up inside Graham’s head.“I feel like when you’re in the position he’s in right now, It’s all here,” Rozier said, pointing to his head. “Sometimes we get inside our own heads.”Rozier noted that Graham is still contributing, as evidenced by his seven assists per game. But the Hornets’ offense has been shaky all season, so their inability to match up defensively with the 76ers’ size made this a mismatch from tip-off. Walk it back? Borrego seemed to walk back his statement after the loss to the Grizzlies that he should look hard now at starting rookie Ball.“We’ve just got to stay the course right now,” Borrego said pregame Saturday. “Continue to get better, not overreact.”I wonder if Saturday’s game nudges Borrego to make a change before Monday’s rematch with the Sixers. The biggest concerns about Ball in the preseason were shooting and defense. He didn’t shoot well Saturday — 4-of-12 from the field — but his four steals, two blocks and four rebounds certainly count as defending. Starting in the NBA isn’t all that big a deal. But playing starter’s minutes is. Ball played 29, 27 and 30 minutes in the last three games — that is starter time. Fragile mixThe Hornets are 2-4, and in all four losses the Hornets have played poorly to start games. The current starting group — Graham, Rozier, Gordon Hayward, P. J. Washington and Bismack Biyombo — has not been good as a unit. In the 56 minutes those five have played together, they are being outscored at a striking rate of 26.7 points per 100 possessions. The offense is particularly concerning; those five generate just 87.4 points per 100 possessions. Rozier is excelling and there’s no real challenger to Hayward or Biyombo right now, so the only viable shakeups would be Ball for Graham or Miles Bridges for Washington. Washington played only 7 1/2 minutes in the second half Saturday due to a thumb contusion.

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