|Prolonged hiatus blunts Charlotte Hornetsí player development|
|8-month offseason forces change|
|Published Wednesday, June 10, 2020 8:28 am|
|PHOTO | CURTIS WILSON|
|Frozen out of the restart of the NBA regular season, the Hornets won’t be able to continue the development of young players like forward P.J. Washington.|
A live environment breeds player development.
It will be eight months before the Charlotte Hornets see competitive action—an eternity for a franchise trying to establish itself as a hotspot for player development – when the NBA resumes its season with 22 teams playing for postseason berths. The league, which suspended play in March due to COVID-19, will restart July 31 at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida. The top 16 teams – the usual playoff field – as well as six teams six games or less behind the eighth seed in each conference, will go to Florida. Charlotte, which finished the season 10th in the Eastern Conference at 23-42, had 17 regular season games remaining.
“To lose 17 games of live, competitive action, that’s hard to replicate in a summer environment – a typical summer environment,” coach James Borrego said Monday in a virtual end-of-season press conference with local media. “So, we’ve got to get creative.”
Toward the end of May, players participated in individual player workouts at the Novant Health Training Center inside Spectrum Center but did not have access to locker rooms, weight rooms or medical areas. Their temperatures were taken prior to entering the building. NBA regulations did not allow more than four players to utilize the practice facilities at a time. Each player was permitted to work with one coach. Players had to wear masks except when they practiced, and staff members wore masks and gloves while in the building.
Charlotte is one of 14 lottery teams – eight clubs who didn’t earn an invitation to Florida as well as the six who do not qualify for the playoffs. Lottery odds would be determined based on team records through March 11. The NBA Draft Lottery is scheduled for Aug. 25, followed by the draft on Oct. 15. The regular season is scheduled to begin on Dec. 1.
Hornets general manager Mitch Kupchak said the team will plan like the draft would take place on its original June 25 date.
“I feel very confident that we would be ready if it was on June 25,” Kupchak said. “We do not think that if the draft was on the 25th that there would have been any kind of an opportunity to have a combine like we’ve had in Chicago or even be able to fly prospects into Charlotte and work them out or even attend agent workouts.
“You’ve got to be careful because at the end of the year, you don’t want to throw away all the scouting you’ve done for year two or three or four because you saw a player have a good workout. But those are important components. Chicago in particular gives you medical information, measurements, speed, quickness, jumping – things like that. That would have been a challenge. Having said that, we were able to conduct Zoom interviews and we did so with a lot of players.”
Charlotte’s next step is finding ways to get players minutes during an unusual offseason.
“It’s tough enough to get our guys to play in the offseason as it is,” Borrego said. “Now with five months off, having already been off for three months, that’s my biggest worry, is how to get these guys live reps. A lot of our player development, as you know, there is nothing like those live reps. You need those live reps to grow and develop and get better. You’ve got to feel success, you’ve got to feel failure and all that happens in that live environment.”
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