Bucks-Hornets Preview

The Milwaukee Bucks expect the arrival of Jabari Parker to be a turning point for their franchise.

The Charlotte Hornets hope two key offseason acquisitions can help push them deeper into the playoffs.

Parker makes his NBA debut on Wednesday night on the road against the rebranded Hornets.

Milwaukee comes off its worst-ever record at 15-67 but is optimistic about the future after selection Parker at No. 2 overall, pairing him with promising second-year talent Giannis Antetokounmpo.

The two 19-year-olds will likely start for the Bucks, who carry a roster with an average age of 23.7. Jason Kidd, who was acquired for two second-round picks after his first season coaching Brooklyn, comes over to lead one of the league’s youngest squads. Kidd reportedly wanted more control behind the scenes with the Nets but was denied and then given permission to talk to other teams.

"In the sense of age, this is a college team. This is a great time for us to coach. We’re going to talk, teach, show and sometimes we’ll get it right, sometimes we won’t," Kidd said. "The guys have all responded in a positive way which makes it all the more enjoyable."

Parker averaged 15.1 points and 6.3 rebounds in the preseason and should add some scoring punch to a team that finished third-to-last with 95.5 points per game. Though he’s been pegged by many as the favorite to win Rookie of the Year, Parker said his goal is to get the Bucks to the playoffs – which they’ve reached twice in the past eight seasons.

"Offensively, he can put the ball in the basket, make plays for his teammates," Kidd said. "You don’t have to call his number – the ball finds him and he responds in a positive way."

Charlotte reached the playoffs for the first time in four seasons as the East’s seventh seed after going 43-39, but is aiming for more after being swept in the first round by Miami.

"We’re better. We’re more talented," second-year coach Steve Clifford said. "Now whether or not we play better or get to the point to where we played consistently as we did at the end of last year will have to play out. But the possibilities are exciting."

The Hornets are optimistic that the additions of Lance Stephenson and Marvin Williams will push them beyond last season’s accomplishments. Stephenson’s five triple-doubles led the league and he was one of three qualifying guards – along with Tony Parker and Goran Dragic – to shoot at least 49.0 percent from the field. Charlotte struggled at times offensively with 96.9 points per game and figures to improve with Stephenson, who improved his scoring average from 8.8 to 13.8 last season with Indiana.

Stephenson returned to practice Tuesday and said he would play Wednesday after missing four preseason games due to a groin injury, though Clifford said it would be up to the training staff depending on how Stephenson responded during the team’s shoot-around.

Williams, who has averaged 10.8 points and 5.1 rebounds over nine seasons, will anchor the front line with Al Jefferson. Jefferson was the only Eastern Conference player to average at least 20 points and 10 rebounds, finishing with 21.8 and 10.8 per game, respectively.

At point guard, Kemba Walker is looking to build off a season in which he averaged 17.7 points and a career-best 6.1 assists.

Charlotte has won the last five meetings and nine of 10 at home.