Hornets summer league slate begins July 15

Thursday, June 14, 2012
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com

For New Orleans Hornets young veterans who experienced the hectic and condensed 2011-12 NBA schedule, their visit to Las Vegas next month should have a familiar feel to it. When the league unveiled its NBA Summer League slate this afternoon, the Hornets learned that they will be playing five games in a seven-day span. In other words, New Orleans’ summer league entry will play its entire schedule from July 15 through July 21.

The Hornets will open their five-game week on Sunday, July 15 with a 9:30 p.m. Central game against the Portland Trail Blazers in UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center (it’s a 7:30 p.m. Pacific time tip in Nevada). The following evening, the Hornets will face the Milwaukee Bucks, again at 9:30 p.m. Central. On Wednesday, Friday and Saturday later that week, New Orleans will play against Phoenix, Dallas and Golden State, respectively.

NBA TV has announced that it will broadcast all 60 summer league games this year, with 39 of those being live telecasts. The network’s Las Vegas live-broadcast information is usually unveiled sometime after the draft (June 28 this year). Local fans in New Orleans will often have to stay up late to catch the Hornets in Las Vegas, because three of the games are at 9:30 Central. The others are at 7:30 and 5:30.

Hornets 2012 NBA Summer League schedule
Sunday, July 15, vs. Portland, 9:30 Central (7:30 in Las Vegas)
Monday, July 16, vs. Milwaukee, 9:30 Central (7:30 in Las Vegas)
Wednesday, July 18, vs. Phoenix, 7:30 Central (5:30 in Las Vegas)
Friday, July 20, vs. Dallas, 9:30 Central (7:30 in Las Vegas)
Saturday, July 21, vs. Golden State, 5:30 Central (3:30 in Las Vegas)

Consistency an Aminu goal entering Year 3

Early in the 2011-12 season, Al-Farouq Aminu’s performance seemed to fluctuate not only from game to game, but sometimes from possession to possession. Encouraging glimpses of his potential were occasionally followed by periods of mistake-filled play, causing his contributions to be unpredictable during the first half of the Hornets’ schedule.

Although several Hornets young players logged far more minutes than they ever had in the NBA, Aminu’s playing time ended up being almost exactly the same as his rookie season. The small forward played 1,477 minutes in 2011-12, only 25 more than the previous campaign. However, what he accomplished in his time on the floor became more and more reliable as his second pro season moved into March and April.

Aminu still needs to significantly improve his season field-goal percentage of 41.1 to be counted on as a frontcourt rotation player, but he took better shots as the year progressed and drastically cut back on his negative plays. That’s part of his focus as he enters a summer in which he’ll play for the Nigerian national team and/or New Orleans’ summer-league squad in Las Vegas.

“I think I’m figuring it out, what my strengths are,” he described late in the regular season. “It’s only my second year, so I’m still finding my game within the league. From there, once I realize what I can and can’t do on a nightly basis, that’s where the summer comes in. I’m going to work on the things I need to improve on, and become a better player.”

Here are additional quotes on the Atlanta area native that we couldn’t squeeze into his season-review article on Hornets.com:
On Aminu’s improvement later in the 2011-12 season:
“He has stepped up and played well. Not as consistently as he would like, but he’s done a good job.”

On Monty Williams’ emphasis to him:
“He always says the point guard and the small forward are supposed to be your most efficient players on the floor. The whole season has been a learning process working toward that goal.”

On his play at the defensive end:
“I know I’ve gotten a lot better on defense, especially learning the schemes and being in the right spots. I’m not thinking as much, just reacting.”

On the hype and attention that surrounded the trade from the Clippers:
“I don’t get caught up in things like that. I just try to do my job to the best of my abilities. At the end of the day, you can only focus on what you have to do.”

On the Hornets’ late-season success, including an 8-6 April:
“I think it’s all momentum for next season. Winning is contagious. We feel like we can win. A lot of times (earlier in the season) we couldn’t close in the fourth quarter. That’s why it’s good that we’re finishing so strong. We have that feeling now. Woulda, shoulda, coulda, but based on how we were put together so quickly at the start of the year, we feel like we had to make the best out of the situation, and that’s what we tried to do.”