The Charlotte Hornets are a team on the rise. They were ranked third for a team most likely to break out this season by general managers around the league.

LaMelo Ball is the star of the team at just 20 years old and is entering his second season. He’s looking to build off of a successful rookie campaign. Terry Rozier secured the bag after getting a massive extension. Everyone else got an opportunity to improve during the offseason, including new acquisitions from the draft and free agency. But one young man from the draft already looks like a steal.

Hornets Training Camp Standout

James Bouknight already looks like he will make an impact for the Hornets. Back at UConn, his game was well-rounded and was ready to translate to the league. But a lot of people did not think it would happen this fast. The NBA Draft is essentially a game of chance. It’s hard to gauge out a player’s talent, especially when they are in their early 20’s and haven’t scratched the surface of their game yet. However, when the Rookie of the Year Award is given out at the end of the season, it shouldn’t be a surprise if Bouknight’s name is in the running. 10% of the GMs voted on Bouknight being the biggest steal of the draft.

In his first preseason game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Bouknight dropped in 20 points in a 113-97 win. He showed he could do it all. He can score the ball at all three levels. He can get to the rim when he wants, shoot the mid-range, and extend out his range out beyond the three-point line. Not to mention, he can play on or off the ball. Offensively, James Borrego should be hype for the potential of this kid. Sure, his game might be a little unpolished, but he has time to grow.

James Bouknight won’t even have as much pressure as the rest of the rookies. He will be coming off the bench to start out the season as a backup for Terry Rozier and LaMelo Ball. He will be able to come off the bench and provide instant scoring with the second unit. Rozier and Ball probably won’t be off the court a lot, so James might get some run with one before they head to the bench. Either way, he shouldn’t have a ton to worry about. There is plenty of veterans on the team that will help out Bouknight along the way.

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When it comes down to his fit with the team, it’s damn near perfect. He has the potential to develop into a potent sixth man for his squad. Maybe even contend for the award and that’ll be his best case scenario. It’s possible he could be running that unit with Miles Bridges. Which should be a whole lot of fun to watch if that’s the case.

Bouknight being drafted also means that the Hornets have their shooting guard for the foreseeable future. The Hornets haven’t had a ton of success drafting in the last decade. They have already kicked off the 2020′ with LaMelo Ball and hopefully a sure fire scorer in James. Ball is a pass-first kind of player. His game will only look better with the more weapons he has at his disposal. Pairing him up with someone who has a knack for scoring is the best way to maximize his talent. The two of them could potentially be a dominant backcourt in a few years.

Maybe with Ball, Bridges, and Bouknight, they could be the new Big Baller Brand. LaMelo playing with his brothers looks like it might not happen, so why not?

The three of them could be on this team for a long time. LaMelo as the point guard of the future, Bouknight as the team’s go to scorer, and Bridges as the athletic slasher. There’s a lot to love about the roster overall. James Bouknight could just be a major cornerstone piece for this talented team.

Is it too soon to tell right now? Absolutely. But coming out of training camp and into preseason, Bouknight’s growth could end up playing a major factor in the direction this team goes in. Barring no major injuries, we could see Ball and Bouknight leading this team to success. Maybe even attract a big name free agent next offseason. Who knows?

He is by far the biggest surprise though and could get even more attention during the season. It’ll be interesting to see how he grows in this interesting system in Charlotte with the Hornets.