Charlotte Hornets 2021 Player preview: Is Vernon Carey Jr in the future plans?

Vernon Carey Jr., Charlotte Hornets (Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images)
Vernon Carey Jr., Charlotte Hornets (Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images) /

Vernon Carey Jr. is heading into a very important season for his future, it is up to him to see if he can break into the rotation ahead of other bigs.

Every Charlotte Hornets fan can remember Vernon Carey Jr.’s great performance against the Brooklyn Nets from last season. In the first start of his young career, he displayed an all-around game with 21 points and 6 rebounds in 35 minutes, showing a great range of offensive skills and the ability to score either in the paint or from the midrange area.

Despite this marvelous game, his season was not one to remember. Head coach James Borrego was not confident in throwing him or Nick Richards into the rotation and used them just when needed or in garbage time. Heading into the 2021-22 season the chances he can play some more minutes are a little bit higher, but there are still doubts on his ability to stick in the league.

As of today, the center’s minutes are likely to be split between Mason Plumlee and P.J. Washington and it will be very difficult for Carey to overcome one of the two. With Miles Bridges potentially getting a starting role, Borrego could want to use Washington more at the power forward spot with the bench unit and this could open a center spot. Pairing Washington and Carey with the bench unit could provide the Hornets a very interesting and versatile frontcourt both offensively and defensively.

If this scenario does not happen, with Washington getting the start at center or being used as full-time bench unit 5, Carey will not have any space to shine with the Hornets. This is why Greensboro could be very important for his development this season too. During last year’s G-League Bubble, Carey posted 16 points and 9 rebounds in 25 minutes showing that he can handle this type of competition despite the young age.

The Charlotte Hornets should not have any type of hurry with his development as he is still very young at 20 years old. During last year he only had a few reps with the Swarm as the G-League season was not as long as it is always has been and his development could have been slowed by staying with the main team without getting any minutes. A full-time G League season or a solidified bench role could make him develop at a faster pace.

Entering this training camp, he lost 15 pounds from last season and this shows his willingness to improve his body conditioning to stick into the league. Being more agile will help his defensive positioning and could be the key to his success.

During the offseason, the Hornets did not solve their long-time center’s position problems and there is a very big hole in which Carey could fit if he addresses the doubts around his game. Hornets fans are still searching for their center of the future and they are waiting for some kind of development from one of the young bigs that are now on the roster.

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