Hornets Looking to Get Over Summer League Hump Against Raptors

by Sam Perley
  • Charlotte Hornets (0-3) vs. Toronto Raptors (2-1)
  • Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021 at 7 PM EDT (COX Pavilion in Las Vegas, NV)
  • NBA TV and ESPN3
  • Last Summer League meeting between these teams: July 14, 2018 (Raptors won, 87-84)

Charlotte’s Offense Cracks Century Mark in 3rd Summer League Appearance

After grinding out just 70 points against Sacramento on Monday evening, the Hornets’ ball movement and transition play picked up substantial over the course of Thursday’s 106-105 last-second loss to San Antonio. Guards James Bouknight and Grant Riller combined for 15 of the team’s 26 assists, just four fewer than the combined Charlotte total over its first two Summer League games. Bouknight in particular looked very comfortable and steady at times as the primary, facilitating ball-handler.

Scoring 105 points in a 40-minute game is certainly progress – surrendering 106 isn’t necessarily what you’re looking for defensively. The Hornets’ physicality and disruption improved slightly in the second half, but all too often the squad was allowing easy paths to the basket, including numerous times in transition after successful offensive possessions. Expect Head Coach Dutch Gaitley to make this area a major focal point in tonight’s matchup.

Fourth Overall Pick Barnes, Achiuwa, Flynn Leading Raptors in Las Vegas

It was somewhat of a surprise when the Raptors selected Scottie Barnes out of Florida State ahead of Gonzaga’s Jalen Suggs with the fourth overall pick in last month’s draft, but the former Seminole looks to be worth the risk thus far. The do-everything, energetic small forward is averaging 13.0 points, 7.3 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.0 steal through three outings, although isn’t shooting super efficiently quite yet on the offensive end (33.3%, 2-of-8 from three).

Two other names that stand out on Toronto’s roster include a pair of second-year players in forward Precious Achiuwa and point guard Malachi Flynn. Achiuwa (16.0 points and 8.0 rebounds) – the 20th overall pick last year by Miami – was recently packaged along with Goran Dragić to Toronto as part of the Kyle Lowry sign-and-trade deal. And speaking of Lowry, the departure of the six-time All-Star likely means a much larger role this upcoming season for high-scoring Flynn (17.3 points on 41% shooting and 45% from three).

Hornets Player to Watch: JT Thor

The rookie power forward Thor has quietly flown under the radar for Charlotte after barely participating in Summer League training camp and then not playing in the first game against Portland. He made his Hornets debut earlier this week and is averaging 7.5 points on 56% shooting, 5.0 rebounds and 1.0 steal in two appearances off the bench. Incredibly long and still in need of major physical development, Thor’s activeness on both ends, fluidity and ball-handling ability around the perimeter have noticeably stood out in just over 29 total on-court minutes.

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