Charlotte Hornets player grades through the first quarter of the season

Charlotte Hornets (Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images)
Charlotte Hornets (Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images) /
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Kelly Oubre Jr and Cody Martin, Charlotte Hornets (Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports)
Kelly Oubre Jr and Cody Martin, Charlotte Hornets (Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports) /

Hornets player grades through the first quarter of the season: The Bench

Nick Richards, Big – Grade: C

A lot of Hornets fans, myself included, counted Nick Richards out this season. In the eyes of many, he was behind fellow 2020 second-round pick, Vernon Carey Jr., and was a favorable candidate to be cut in the offseason. This all proved to be wrong as the Hornets, who are in desperate need of a defensive big man, looked to Richards to try and fill that void. There’s still a lot of work that needs to be done, but Richards has improved and exceeded everyone’s expectations to start this season.

Ish Smith, Point Guard – Grade: C+

Smith started the season on fire and was looking like the perfect backup point guard to LaMelo Ball, but that started to fall off and he found himself at the end of the bench getting very few minutes as the season started to go on. However, this is about what was expected for Smith heading into the season. He was never going to receive a consistent heavy minute load but would be looked at to be a steady hand and veteran locker room presence for a young and inexperienced team. He’s done just that.

Jalen McDaniels, Forward – Grade: B-

McDaniels has taken a step to start this season. He’s been solid defensively and proven to be a reliable three-point shooter, albeit, on low volume, he’s currently shooting 45.5 percent on 2 attempts per game. With the Hornets needing efficient three-point shooting and defensive help on the wings, McDaniels has stepped up and done a solid job. My worry for him going forward is how long he can continue to hold off Bouknight and Thor from taking his spot in the rotation.

Cody Martin, Forward – Grade: A

Martin has been exceptional this season off the bench for the Hornets. A guy that many thought should be cut before the start of the year has turned into one of the best rotation players in the entire NBA. Martin has been the Hornets’ best defensive player, guarding the opposing team’s best player, and has improved from three, making 49 percent of his shots on 2.1 attempts per game. Last season he shot 27.6 percent on 1.1 attempts per game. Martin can be trusted and should be one of the core members of this roster moving forward.

Kelly Oubre Jr., Forward – Grade: A

Oubre might have been the best free-agent acquisition in the entire NBA this season. At the very least, he is in that discussion. His confidence this season has been on another level and he’s turned into one of the go-to scoring options for Charlotte this season. He’s currently shooting 46.6 percent from the field and 39.4 percent from three, both of which are career-best. He’s also upped his volume of three-point shots to 7.4 attempts per game, shattering his former career-best of 5.5. In his last seven games, Oubre is averaging 25.3 points per game. It might be time to consider starting this man.

PJ Washington, Big – Grade: B

PJ Washington has been given some big responsibilities to start this season. Washington is the only big man who should be getting major minutes on this team but the problem is that he’s best suited to play power forward and not full-time center. Washington is a fine small-ball five but he’s being asked to guard players like Giannis Antetokounmpo, Joel Embiid, and the rest of the elite big men in the NBA. With this in mind, Washington has performed about as well as he possibly can in this role. On the flip side, all of Washington’s major stats are down this season but with the defensive workload he’s taking on that can only be expected.