Midseason Addition Brad Wanamaker Provides Depth, Experience Amidst Hornets’ Injuries

by Sam Perley

The only member of the Hornets’ final roster who didn’t begin the 2020-21 NBA campaign in Charlotte, Brad Wanamaker provided the team with valuable veteran depth and experience, particularly following a rash of injuries to the backcourt in the second half of the season.

Wanamaker spent his first two NBA seasons with the Boston Celtics before signing a free agent deal with Golden State last fall. Shortly after LaMelo Ball’s wrist fracture in mid-March, the Hornets acquired Wanamaker, Toronto’s top-54 protected 2022 second-round pick and cash considerations from the Warriors in exchange for a top-55 protected 2025 second-round pick.

With Ball and eventually Gordon Hayward, Malik Monk and Devonte’ Graham all sidelined at some point with injuries, Wanamaker went on to appear in 22 games off the bench for Charlotte, posting averages of 6.9 points on 42.9% shooting, 1.8 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 0.8 steals in just under 20 minutes per contest.

“The unique thing about [the trade] was me just getting a fresh start,” he said during exit interviews. “Obviously, things didn’t go as planned in Golden State for me. I had a lot of ups and downs with the organization, but I’m very appreciative of my opportunity there and [in Charlotte]. Before I came here, I hit up a few of the guys I already knew. It was fun watching these guys [beforehand] and then coming to the team.”

He added, “I was a fan from afar and it was pretty cool to join the team. It was a tough [finish], especially the way we lost. Nobody wanted to lose like that in a close-out game [to the Pacers], but overall, it was a great season. Fought through a lot of adversity. Guys went through protocols, a bunch of injuries at the wrong time. It wasn’t the way we wanted to end, but the organization is definitely going in the right direction.”

Wanamaker, who played seven years in Europe prior to making it to the NBA in 2018, was relied upon as somebody who could organize the team’s offense and hold his own on the defensive end, while also minimizing mistakes. He matched a campaign best with seven assists against the Bucks on April 9 and scored a season-high 15 points in Detroit on May 4.

Despite coming in midseason, Wanamaker says he gravitated immediately to the team’s youthful comradery and chemistry. “Just getting here, the guys were feeding off each other,” he recalled. “The energy the young guys brought to the gym every day for practice, warmups or the locker room, it was just fun to be around.”

“There were things in Boston I really loved, things in Golden State I really loved and here, things are really good. I talked to a few other people on the staff and in the training room, the way they handle things, most organizations don’t do it the way they do. That was pretty cool to see and just shows where this organization is headed, which is in the right direction.”
The now 31-year-old Wanamaker is heading into unrestricted free agency for the second consecutive offseason and although his future NBA whereabouts are currently unclear, he’s overall pleased with how things played out in Charlotte.

“Not every season is going to go how you planned it to be,” he stated. “To get a fresh start and come over here with some energy was great. There are great people in charge and the right young pieces around. It’s going to be interesting to see what they do in the offseason, but the future is definitely bright for the Charlotte Hornets. [It’s time to] just get back to the drawing board, get back in the gym and work on some things that I need to improve on.”

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