The Charlotte Hornets have dealt with some pretty rough circumstances to kick off the season. They have only won six out of 19 possible games and half of those wins are at home at Spectrum Center. Injuries have been the main reason why this team has had such a slow start through the quarter-season mark, but it's also a lack of attention to detail as well. Still, missing LaMelo Ball for an extended period of time makes winning games harder. Meaning other guys have to step up. More specifically, younger players who might not see the floor enough or at all, such as Nick Smith Jr. and James Bouknight.
Hornets should lean towards Nick Smith Jr.
Nick Smith Jr. seems to have the right tools to be an effective offensive player with the right opportunity. Within the first six minutes of his second G-League game, he put up a quick 14 points. The microwave scoring ability is there for him to win in iso situations. He can create off the dribble in the mid-range and has the potential to stretch his range to the 3-point line more often once he's comfortable. Smith can blow by defenders if they put too much stock into the jump shot, and has all the tools offensively. He just needs the playing time to shine and showcase it.
He did roll his ankle in that G-League game, but when he returns, this is the young player that all Hornets fans should want to see more of.
James Bouknight isn't a bad option
He's only appeared in one game in the 2023-24 season, but he's had a few different flashes showing his offensive skill set. In fact, both Smith Jr. and Bouknight have that same kind of self shot creating potential. Where they look like you could trust them to carry an offense in certain stretches throughout games. Except Bouknight had opportunities last season to secure a more important role for this year, but he didn't stand out. That being said, he was a lottery pick back in 2021. It would not hurt to see if he can live up to that draft stock and grow into a staple player in Steve Clifford’s rotation.
More Hornets players need to step up
Smith Jr. is the player that needs to be highlighted more than anyone else, but there is still other young pieces that should see the floor more. Leaky Black and Amari Bailey are prospects that could play a role with this team at some point. They might not be the shot creators that Smith Jr. and Bouknight are, but you never know until you put a guy in position to have an impact. Those two could be glue guys, or team players that could provide a different spark to the team.
The team is young and unless they manage to turn it around within the next 10 games, this season could be a wash if wins don't come trickling in. Seeing who could be impact players to move forward with LaMelo Ball is major at that point. Still, there is a slight chance for the Hornets to make a run once everyone is healthy. A Play-In spot should be the goal at this point. It is an uphill battle, but there should be enough talent on the roster to compete for something at the end of the season.