Season Recap: Dwayne Bacon Battles Through Up-And-Down Season

by Sam Perley

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It wasn’t exactly the season Dwayne Bacon envisioned having when it first began, but in the end, the third-year combo guard made the most of a tough situation and still found ways to get better as an NBA player and teammate.

Bacon began the campaign in the Charlotte starting backcourt with Terry Rozier, totaling 22 points and three assists in an Opening Night home victory over Chicago. Less than two weeks later, he led the Hornets with a career-high 25 points in a road win against Golden State.

He averaged just under 10 points and three rebounds through the first 10 games of the season before some right knee soreness knocked him out of a few contests in mid-November. Upon his return, Hornets Head Coach James Borrego moved point guard Devonte’ Graham into the starting lineup, Rozier to shooting guard and Bacon to the bench.

From that point on, Bacon struggled a bit with his efficiency, leading to inconsistent minutes and sometimes multi-game absences over the next few months. Following the All-Star Break in February, he was sent to the G League to play with the Greensboro Swarm.

In his first appearance with the squad, he erupted for 51 points and nine rebounds in a 124-117 home win over the Fort Wayne Mad Ants. Bacon’s performance ended up being both the highest single-game scoring total by any G League player this season and a new Greensboro Swarm franchise record. He then proceeded to score 44 and 40 points in his next two outings.

Bacon put up just under 32 points on 45 percent shooting, eight rebounds and four assists in nine G League appearances before the season was suspended on March 11. At the NBA level, he finished the campaign averaging around six points on 35 percent shooting, three rebounds and one assist in 18 minutes over 39 appearances, 11 of which were starts.

“As a team, we had a lot of ups and downs. Me, personally, I had a lot of ups and downs,” said Bacon in his media exit interview. “I think I played my last nine games in the G League and I felt myself getting better. I think I ended up averaging like 31 points or something like that. I just wanted to play, compete and get better. Right now, there’s more work to put in. I have to take it just one day at a time.”

While things didn’t work out the way Bacon or the team planned at the start of the season, the Florida State product was still able to develop as a player, despite seeing limited on-court action.

“Even when I wasn’t playing and the younger guys like Jalen [McDaniels] and Caleb [Martin] starting playing, I was still trying to be in those guys’ ears,” he said. “I was trying to help them out and do all the right things, find the right spots or make all the right plays. I felt like I helped those guys a little bit staying in their ear. Honestly, I feel like I’ve grown a lot with my talking.”

The 24-year-old will be a restricted free agent this offseason, meaning that if they elect to do so, the Hornets can reserve the right to match any contract offer extended to Bacon on the open market. Regardless of where he ultimately ends up, the goal for Bacon will continue to be the same.

“I just want to keep working and getting better. Going down [to the G League], playing and having an opportunity to compete, it just shows me that I can play this game. Even when I was playing for the Hornets, I’ve had games where I broke out with my scoring and stuff like that and games that I’ve helped win. There’s never been a doubt that I can play in this league.”

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