Charlotte Hornets: The Defense Has Been Horrible, But It’s Not Hopeless

Charlotte Hornets Dwayne Bacon (Photo by Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Charlotte Hornets Dwayne Bacon (Photo by Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post via Getty Images) /

If they want to have a chance to win games every night, the Charlotte Hornets need to improve their defense drastically.

The Charlotte Hornets have massively outperformed most people’s expectations so far this season. Their wins have been based on their surprising offensive productivity. Breaking records for three-pointers made will certainly give you a good chance to win your games. That kind of night is fun but unsustainable.

Offense comes and goes for every single player in the league, even James Harden, who had led the NBA with 37 points per game last year. Something that you can always count on every night is your defense.

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There is a saying that “defense travels,” and this can not be any truer. A good defense is about effort and following a gameplay, and that has nothing to do with a poor shooting night.

Aside from not only limiting your opponent’s points (which obviously gives you a better chance to win the game), It can even spark some energy to shift momentum and give guys more confidence when they get back on offense.

According to, the Hornets are currently ranked 23rd in defense, and it often feels worse than that by the eye test.

Well, they just don’t have good defenders is all, but once they get some decent defenders, things will get better… right? A better rim protector would certainly help anchor the team defense, but there are capable defenders already playing big minutes.

The starting lineup consists of Terry Rozier, Dwyane Bacon, Miles Bridges, PJ Washington, and Cody Zeller. That group should not be struggling as much as they are on the defensive side of the ball.

Terry is a pesky and athletic defender (when he’s not hacking his man). Bacon has already been given high-pressure defensive assignments with the game on the line and delivered. Miles has shown great defensive capabilities when one-on-one. PJ Washington had 5 blocks the other night, and Cody is decent at defending the pick-and-roll.

The bench has some solid defenders, as well. Marvin Williams is a versatile defender who can guard multiple positions when switched on to them, Cody Martin has looked like one of, if not the best defender on the team, and Devonte Graham has been excellent at drawing charges; much like his predecessor.

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So what’s the problem then? Defensive game-planning and coaching is the next step to unlocking a better defense.

Watching little things like Miles letting his man backdoor cut behind him off-ball and Bacon not boxing out for easy rebounds are both easy teaching lessons that coach Borrego should be reviewing with them. Little things add up, and that would at least be a start.

Coach James Borrego needs to find a defensive system that not only can everyone take advantage of but plays to each player’s strengths; helping everyone to understand pick-and-roll coverage, rotations out of double-teams, and things like that.

This is not something that can be fixed overnight but over a couple of months. By that time, I expect there should be signs of improvement.

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With the number of capable defenders already playing, there is no reason to believe that this current group is hopeless all year during essentially twenty-four minutes of action.