The Charlotte Hornets edged past the Sacramento Kings, 124-123. They were able to snap their two-game losing streak, and it was all thanks to their lottery pick in this past years draft: James Bouknight.
Bouknight finished with a career-high 24 points and six rebounds, all while shooting 6-of-8 from deep. With that, he joined LaMelo Ball as the only Hornets rookie with 20 or more points, five or more rebounds, and five-plus threes in a game since 2007. Charlotte was down seven of their top rotational players, so they needed that kind of production.
The 21-year-old described his big night as “surreal” when asked about his performance:
“The feeling was surreal, but I knew I was capable of this and my coaches believed in me. It’s just a testament to our chemistry as a team. Just having vets in my ear telling me that I need to stay ready. Miles Bridges has been telling me all year that my time is coming and today it came,” Bouknight shared.
He looked comfortable all over the floor on Friday night, especially on the offensive end as his game is built for the run-and-gun offense that the Hornets like to play. Of course, he can get his own shot in an ISO situation.
James Borrego also had plenty to say about Bouknight’s night: “His confidence is growing. He’s been ready for this moment. We continued to say to Bouk, stay ready. Keep working your time is coming. He told me before the game ‘I’m ready to go, coach’ and he stepped up big tonight.”
The NBA is the best league in the world and there are a lot of obstacles that you have to climb to get your shot. Sometimes, injuries open up doors for players and Bouknight ran right through it. The Kings’ game plan probably didn’t take into account that Bouknight would be the most potent force on the Hornets. It’s safe to say that the league will likely be on notice for the rest of the season.
At this point, even when the Hornets return to full strength, Bouknight is likely to stay within the rotation. His shot making and energy fits right in with the grand schemes of things. Remember, Bouknight was one of the last rookies to score his first NBA points, along with his teammate Kai Jones. Fast forward to the present and he set the Kings heading back to Cali with a loss.
The future certainly looks bright for Charlotte.