Charlotte Hornets: Defense — the thing no one is talking about

Charlotte Hornets Miles Bridges (Photo by Kent Smith/NBAE via Getty Images)
Charlotte Hornets Miles Bridges (Photo by Kent Smith/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Defense seems to have been completely overlooked on this Charlotte Hornets team. It has largely gone ignored by coaching staff, bloggers and fans.

I’ve patiently sat back and waited to write my first in season article because I wanted to get a feel of what this Charlotte Hornets team is, the narrative around it and finally what they lack. The one thing that I come back to each time is defense and no one else really talks about it other than coach speak.

I will begin by saying it’s not all bad for this team, there is an optimism that hasn’t been there in years and young players are getting the development that is needed to move forward. Devonte’ Graham has been a revelation with his shooting and playmaking ability.  Terry Rozier has played very well since being moved off ball and PJ Washington has flashed some of his potential on both ends of the floor.

Expectations were quite a bit lower entering the season, but this team plays hard, which is a tribute to Coach James Borrego and these players, and this team has generally been fun to watch.

It has become glaringly evident that this team is completely one sided, however, all on offense and very little on defense. I had my doubts last year about Borrego’s defensive philosophy, but I don’t believe this is the issue.

For all of the good the young players have brought to the offensive end, they seemingly have punted the defensive side completely.  Malik Monk, Miles Bridges and Graham are the worst defenders on the team per Synergy.

Borrego took a hard stance on his teams lack of defense before the season saying, “I control the minutes. Our guys are going to be committed to the defensive end from day one. If not, they’re just not going to play. That’s the bottom line.”

Twenty games in, he seems to finally be making good on that statement, as Miles Bridges has seen his minutes decrease from the mid 30’s to just 19 in the game against Golden State. The reason is because Bridges has been absolutely atrocious the past seven games on the defensive end.

His DRtg (points the team would give up per 100 possessions with him on the court where 100 is average) is a staggering 121.9 over that span. His net rating (compiled by taking his ORtg-DRtg) is -21.5 per 100 possessions.

Bridges isn’t the only one to blame of course, Graham and Cody Zeller have been equally as bad this season on defense, but it does raise questions about his long term viability with this team, as he’s losing minutes to a 34 year old Marvin Williams currently.

There is no good solution to this problem, a trade for Andre Drummond has been floated around by a couple of my fellow writers on this site, but I’m not for trading away future assets for this team, especially for a player who has made it clear that he will test the free agent market next summer.

Marvin Williams isn’t the answer long term, and let’s be fair, he should be traded immediately before his shooting regression sets in, so the only thing is just to ride with the young guys and hope they make a better effort on that end.

I do think Dwayne Bacon has the physical tools to at least be an average defensive player and on this team that means he could be their best defender. In my opinion, the Hornets gave up on Bacon too soon this season, and I get it he got off to a really rough start shooting the basketball, but he’s still young and has some length for the SG spot.

The remaining schedule, especially in January and thereafter is going to get really tough, so if they don’t improve before then, the season will get very ugly.

Next. Charlotte Hornets get the blowout win they've been seeking. dark

Finally, it amazes me how fans and the people that cover the Charlotte Hornets have completely ignored the defense. For this season, being entertaining and fun to watch may be enough for them, but going forward, unless this team picks it up on the other end, they will be in too many shootouts to compete on a nightly basis.