|Rookie Dwayne Bacon adds beef and versatility to Charlotte Hornets|
|Swingman has chance to make impact early|
|Published Monday, October 16, 2017 8:20 pm|
|Charlotte Hornets guard/forward Dwayne Bacon, on right with Malik Monk, will take on an increased role with Nic Batum out with an elbow injury.|
Dwayne Bacon controls the success of his rookie season.
Bacon’s responsibilities transition from a rookie acclimating to the next level to a potential starter in the absence of guard Nic Batum, who is out up to eight weeks with a sprained left elbow.
“He fits in really well,” point guard Kemba Walker said. “He’s a great young talent. It’s all up to him, honestly. How much actual work are you gonna put in? How much film is he going to watch? How much dedication is he going to have to the game? That’s what this league is all about. I’m going to try my best to help him along.”
Said coach Steve Clifford: “He’s playing confidently. The big thing he can do is, he has starter’s size and starter’s toughness and physicality. So he can guard starters.”
During the Hornets 2-3 preseason, Bacon started two of his five appearances, playing 128 minutes. He shot 19-46 from the field and 6-11 from beyond the arc. Finishing with nine assists, he averaged five rebounds per game and nine points per game.
“I feel like I got better each game on offense and defense,” said Bacon, who was acquired from New Orleans for 31st overall pick Frank Jackson and cash. “That’s what it’s all about – learning the offense, learning the defense, and getting better at it. Each game, I made progress.”
Said Walker: “Hopefully he can continue to do the great things that he’s done this preseason.”
Clifford compared Bacon’s size and defensive style of play to former Hornets guard P.J. Hairston.
“Say what you want about P.J., but we were a top six defensive team with P.J. playing every night, big minutes, and guarding the other team’s best player,” Clifford said. “Now, Dwayne’s not as strong as P.J., but he has that same type of physicality. If he can learn—P.J. took a year, but his second year, he was a starter. [Bacon] has more game off the dribble, but he has the size and strength.”
Said center Cody Zeller: “They’re strong, and neither one of them have a conscience, which is a good thing. Put them up, they can score in a hurry. It’s always good for a young guy.”
Despite being built around Clifford’s defensive ethos, the Hornets have lacked physicality in recent seasons. Adding center Dwight Howard and Bacon addresses the deficit, but Bacon remains keen to improve his defense as the season gets underway.
“I’m a physical player,” Bacon said. “I’m just out there trying to do whatever my coaches need me to do, to stay on the floor. I feel like I have the offensive side. I want to focus on defense, and do what I can.”
The Hornets open the season Wednesday in Detroit.
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