This was probably the worst of the worst. Take all of the struggles from the Charlotte Hornets’ previous games and jam-pack them into one game, and that was this. Imagine if you took Michael Kidd-Gilchrist’s jump shot, Mason Plumlee’s free-throw shooting, and Adam Morrison’s durability and combined them into one player.
Okay, that’s a dramatic bit, but you get the point.
Charlotte looked awful in their game against the Chicago Bulls, as Chicago out-classed them in nearly every facet of the game. But again, Summer League isn’t about wins and losses, it’s about progression. Unfortunately, this game didn’t exactly scream progression.
Regardless, let’s get into the notes.
1. Turnover city
You had to know this was coming. How the Hornets only finished with 16 turnovers is a bit baffling. Watching the game, it seemed like they would have easily cleared the 20-turnover mark. They were just giving the ball away at every turn, and most of the giveaways weren’t forced. Charlotte was just making silly decisions.
12 of their 16 turnovers were in the first half alone, making for a rough watch. Again, this team doesn’t have a ton of guys who are comfortable with the ball in their hands. And when Jalen Crutcher, one of those guys, is turning the ball over five times, that’s not a great start.
2. Jalen Crutcher proves me wrong?
After Charlotte’s last game, I wrote about how Crutcher shouldn’t be earning start minutes. So, naturally, he went out there against the Bulls and had himself an efficient night, dropping 10 points and five rebounds. However, eight of those points were in the first half, and as mentioned, Crutcher also notched a team-high five turnovers.
Look, right now, he looks like a solid G League player. He’s confident, can dish out some nice passes, and is clearly a solid three-point shooter, but he just hasn’t been that impressive during Summer League. On a team with little offensive initiation where he has been handed the keys as the starting point guard, highlights have been few and far between. He played alright against Chicago, but he needs to give more. And until then, I stand by my previous statements.
3. Smooth McGowens…?
It seems like every other game we’re talking about a different version of Bryce McGowens. He went from dominating against the Cleveland Cavaliers to struggling mightily against the Bulls. McGowens still led the team in scoring, dropping 15 points, but he was extremely inefficient. He shot just 4-of-18 from the field and 1-of-7 from distance.
Tough game for Bryce McGowens in terms of finishing through contact/contests, but able to finally turn the corner out of pick-and-roll on this possession, finish in traffic at the rim pic.twitter.com/ujNRbVnNRD
— Brian Geisinger (@bgeis_bird) July 14, 2022
Chicago definitely did their scouting work, as it looked as though they had McGowens circled. On the one hand, that means other teams are respecting how good he can be. On the other hand, McGowens needs to do a better job of working around that defensive pressure. But he’s just a rookie, so there’s plenty of time to learn that.
4. JT Thor’s jump shot
It didn’t necessarily translate to the stats in this one, but it did stand out to me – Thor’s jump shot looks nice. It’s a bit wonky, with him sort of angled to one side, but the mechanics are smooth. With his height and length, if he can learn to hit it consistently, that could be a serious weapon for Charlotte to utilize.
5. Mark Williams is HUGE
Okay, I think this is the millionth time I’ve said this in the notebook this summer, but it’s just so true. Williams is a behemoth out there. There hasn’t been a single player the Hornets have faced that looks even close to the same size as Williams. He makes everyone else look like ants out there. Even Marko Simonovic, who is listed at 6’11, looked small next to Williams.
He hasn’t been able to put up the monster numbers people would like to see from a lottery pick, but his presence alone has been enough to impress. Seeing him learn on the fly has been very entertaining, and if he can iron out the kinks in his game, he could be starting in Charlotte by the end of the year.
Williams even flashed some playmaking chops…
6. Don’t worry about LJ Figueroa
After shooting a perfect 13-of-13 through Charlotte’s first two games, Figueroa hasn’t kept up that efficiency. In fact, he’s had two fairy quiet scoring games in a row. However, he’s still making his presence known. Whenever there’s a dull moment out there, Figueroa can be seen barking at his teammates (in the best way possible), making the extra effort on little plays, and hustling on defense. He’s everything the Hornets should be looking for, even when he’s not shooting lights out.
7. Watch out for Brady Manek
Yes, the shooting is impressive. Anybody that is 6’9 and can shoot the ball from three-point range has enough talent to earn a shot at the NBA. However, like Figueroa, watching Manek do the little thing is what’s most intriguing. He was a five-year collegiate player (yes, five years) and it shows on the court. Manek is always making the extra effort, even though his build and athletic ability may not allow for it.
Even though he’s not the best defender, he always gives it his all. Whenever he’s not lined up for an open three-point look, he’s lining up rebound opportunities. By just watching him play out there, it’s clear that he’s a smart basketball player. He may not be the most athletic, the best defender, or very versatile, but he knows how to play the game. That, combined with his shooting, should be enough to keep him around. (In the G League, for now.)