On Wednesday, the Memphis Grizzlies (6-4) will continue their three-game homestand when LaMelo Ball and the Charlotte Hornets (5-7) visit FedExForum. The wheels have fallen off a bit for the Hornets after a 5-2 start to the year — they are losers of their last five. But Charlotte puts up points in bunches (114.3 per game, second in the NBA) and thus shouldn’t be taken lightly, especially by a Memphis team that has struggled to get stops this season.
I reached out to At The Hive’s Chase Whitney ahead of tonight’s matchup for more on the Hornets. Check it out!
1. I’m a big fan of James Bouknight, so much so that I wanted the Grizzlies to select him on draft night. That said, he hasn’t seen the court thus far in Charlotte (eight minutes across five games). Do you see Bouknight cracking the rotation at some point this season?
I do see it happening at some point, and honestly, it could be soon. Charlotte has been in a rough patch lately losing five straight games, and at a certain point the lottery pick deserves a chance to show whether he can impact the team. James Borrego notoriously makes his young players earn their rotation minutes regardless of draft status, which I think is good for long-term development, but Bouknight has been surprisingly absent so far.
2. LaMelo Ball is taking 7.2 threes per game and swishing 40.7% of them. Could a three-point contest appearance be on the horizon for him?
As great as it’s been to watch him shoot the lights out this season, especially the 47.2 percent mark on catch-and-shoot attempts, I genuinely don’t know if he’s the type to do contests like that. He’d put on a show for sure, though.
3. Miles Bridges is leading the Hornets in scoring. It’s still early, but do you buy or sell him being a legitimate most improved player candidate?
I’m buying it 100 percent. I was a bit skeptical pre-season in an attempt to not seem like a homer, but I felt he was a legit threat to win the award. Now, it seems like he’s a legit threat to make the All-Star team at 22-7-3-1.8 steals per game. He’s gotten miles (get it) better as a shot creator and playmaker, and in turn it’s led to him increasing his focus on defense as his role and importance to the team also increase. Miles Bridges is the best.
4. Which individual matchup (besides Morant vs. Ball) are you most looking forward to?
It’ll be interesting to see how the Hornets handle Jaren Jackson Jr. with their centers — so I guess it’s a 1 vs. 2 matchup. JJJ is far more perimeter-oriented than Mason Plumlee, and Nick Richards is a little more agile in space but doesn’t have much experience yet as an NBA rotation player. PJ Washington vs. JJJ would’ve been my answer had Washington not been injured against Golden State last week, and his omission from the lineup has been the biggest reason the Hornets have slumped lately in my opinion.
5. What’s your final score prediction?
I think it’ll be a high-scoring affair packed with highlights and exciting plays. The Melo-Ja matchup is fun, and these are two of the most intriguing young, up-and-coming teams in the NBA if you ask me. I’ll go with 111-105 Hornets as a final score.
Thanks to Chase for once again lending his pen to the blog! Make sure to throw him a follow on Twitter @chasewhitney_ and check out At The Hive for all things Charlotte Hornets.