Oct 29, 2014; Charlotte, NC, USA; The basketball court for the Charlotte Hornets sports the new logo before the opening home game against the Milwaukee Bucks at Time Warner Cable Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports
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With the multiple changes that took place this summer to the Charlotte Hornets’ roster, there will be a lot to watch for during the preseason this year.
There are always multiple reasons to watch the NBA preseason every year but here are the Charlotte Hornets‘ players that you should be watching for this season. With the new additions, returning players, and rookies on the roster, this will be an interesting and entertaining preseason for the Queen City team. There is a different reason to watch each player but they are all important.
The Charlotte Hornets will be playing in seven preseason games this year starting on October 3rd and ending on October 21st. They will be facing the Dallas Mavericks, the Boston Celtics twice, the Minnesota Timberwolves twice, the Chicago Bulls, and the Miami Heat. New players will need to adjust to their team’s new style of play while returning players will need to work themselves back into the rotations and rookie are fighting for a spot on an NBA roster.
It is unclear whether Kemba Walker will be playing in the preseason this year after he is coming off of a summer where he had surgery on a torn meniscus. He was recently cleared for full-contact drills but he may not be ready for game action. If Kemba does end up playing in exhibition games this year, it will likely be the final few.
Since the point guard is coming off of an injury, the Hornets are cautious in Kemba’s return. With all the injury troubles that Charlotte had last season, this is probably the best way to approach this situation. When and if Walker does play, it will be interesting to see how his knee holds up and how he plays coming off of surgery.
Sep 26, 2016; Charlotte, NC, USA; Charlotte Hornets forward Christian Wood (35) poses for a portrait during media day at Spectrum Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports
Christian Wood is one of the newest members on the Hornets’ team and he will be looking to make a name for himself on the roster during preseason. Charlotte signed him to a two-year, $1.8 million deal this offseason. He is a young player with plenty of upside but he has yet to play a full season at the NBA level.
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The 21-year old big man spent most of last year with the Philadelphia 76ers’ D-League team. While he did put up great numbers for the Delaware 87ers, Wood will need to prove that he can play at the NBA level during the preseason. If he can play well enough to impress the Hornets’ coaching staff, Christian may earn himself a roster spot and spend more time with the Hornets rather than the Greensboro Swarm in 2016.
Sep 26, 2016; Charlotte, NC, USA; Charlotte Hornets guard Aaron Harrison (9) poses for a portrait during media day at Spectrum Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports
Aaron Harrison made a name for himself during the 2015 Orlando Pro Summer League with the Hornets but he may be fighting for a spot on the team during preseason. After struggling with the team during summer league this year, the former Kentucky Wildcat will need a strong outing to impress the coaches and prove that he deserves a spot on the roster. It is likely that he plays most of the 2016-17 with the Greensboro Swarm in the D-League but if he plays well, Harrison may be able to make the regular season roster.
If Aaron continues to struggle at the NBA level and his poor shooting/playmaking trends continue, he could see himself falling out of favor with the coaching staff. The 21-year old guard has plenty of potential and skill but he will need to put it together in his second professional season. Keep an eye on Harrison and see if he stumbles out of the gate or impresses with his play.
Sep 26, 2016; Charlotte, NC, USA; Charlotte Hornets forward/center Frank Kaminsky (44) poses for a portrait during media day at Spectrum Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports
Frank “the Tank” Kaminsky is now entering his second season in the NBA after a somewhat successful rookie year. While he did play well for a rookie, the team will be looking for the big man to take the next step in his career going forward. It will be important for Frank to showcase his development and new skill set that he has been working on this summer in the preseason.
Kaminsky should get plenty of playing time during the preseason and how well he plays should be a good indication of on how much he has grown since last year. After missing out on summer league this offseason, these exhibition games will be important for the second year power forward. Frank could have a breakout season but first he will need to impress in preseason play.
Sep 26, 2016; Charlotte, NC, USA; Charlotte Hornets forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (14) poses for a portrait during media day at Spectrum Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports
After only playing in seven games last season, the preseason will be important for Michael Kidd-Gilchrist this year. He is coming off of shoulder surgery and exhibition games will give him chance to help return to form for the regular season. Michael missed a lot of games last season and that is always tough to come back from.
Injury concerns will be surrounding MKG as he suffered a shoulder injury during the first preseason game last year. The main thing for the small forward will be remaining healthy and going into the regular season without any issues. The second thing will be for him to play well in his first NBA action since February.
Sep 26, 2016; Charlotte, NC, USA; Charlotte Hornets guard/forward Marco Belinelli (21) poses for a portrait during media day at Spectrum Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports
Marco Belinelli is one of the new members on the Charlotte Hornets this season. He was acquired via a draft day trade with the Sacramento Kings. He is a highly-touted outside shooter and he should be a perfect fit in Steve Clifford’s offensive scheme.
The Italy international will need time to adjust to his new teammates and new style of play but he is an important player for them this season. A strong showing in the preseason will warrant added playing time for him to start he the regular season. If he does struggle, Marco may be passed up by Jeremy Lamb until he gets more familiar with the system.
Sep 26, 2016; Charlotte, NC, USA; Charlotte Hornets center Roy Hibbert (55) poses for a portrait during media day at Spectrum Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports
After a down season last year with the Los Angeles Lakers, Roy Hibbert will be looking to rebound with the Charlotte Hornets. One reason to watch Roy will be to see if he can return to his all-star form with his new team but also to see if he can win the starting center spot.
With Cody Zeller nursing a minor injury, it opens up the possibility for Hibbert to steal the role from him. Steve Clifford says that he isn’t sure who will start at the five spot but if Roy plays well in the preseason, he could be the man at the start of the regular season. Make sure to keep a close eye on this developing situation.
Sep 26, 2016; Charlotte, NC, USA; Charlotte Hornets guard Ramon Sessions (7) poses for a portrait during media day at Spectrum Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports
If Kemba Walker is forced to miss any preseason games, then Ramon Sessions is the man to take his spot in the starting lineup. It will be interesting to see how he plays as the starting point guard with a new team. Sessions is the back-up point guard entering the season but with some good play during the preseason, he could get some added trust and minutes from coach Clifford.
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The main reason to watch he is to see how he handles being the starting guard for this Hornets’ team.
If Walker misses games this season due to injuries (let’s hope not) Sessions will be relied upon as the point guard.
If Kemba does play, Ramon can try to replace Jeremy Lin‘s role of playing in a two-guard set alongside Walker.
Sep 26, 2016; Charlotte, NC, USA; Charlotte Hornets guard/forward Trevor Graham (12) poses for a portrait during media day at Spectrum Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports
Treveon Graham may be the most interesting player on the Charlotte Hornets’ roster this preseason. He is widely unknown but he could make a name for himself by showing out in the preseason. I think he has an outside shot to make the 15-man final roster for the team but he will need to impress the coaching staff and organization before that can happen.
Graham can play at small forward which is a position of need for Charlotte. Even if he is just an emergency wing player, Treveon could make the regular season roster. Playing with the Greensboro Swarm next season is the most likely scenario for the 6’5 player.
Everyone has their own reasons for watching or not watching preseason games but if you are a Charlotte Hornets’ fan, there are plenty of players to watch this year. Keep a close eye on fringe players and guys returning from injuries. The new additions from this offseason will be trying to adjust to the team’s style of play during the exhibition games.