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Film Breakdown: Hornets offense shows life in Miami

After a slow start to the preseason for Charlotte on the offensive end, Monday night in Miami proved as a sigh of relief for Hornets fans that were ready to panic over the fit of some key new pieces in this lineup.

Minus Nic Batum in the lineup, Charlotte will have to work harder for consistency on the offensive end. Jeremy Lamb’s strong play continued on Monday in Miami before he left the game with a groin injury that doesn’t appear to be anything serious. Through three preseason games, Lamb leads the Hornets in points per game (15.3), field goal percentage (57.1%) and is sporting an insane player efficiency rating (PER) of 32.7. It’s tough to expect this kind of play from Lamb consistently, but it’s a great sign for Charlotte, nonetheless.

Let’s take a look at how the new faces on the roster are helping to evolve the Hornets offense.

D12

During the first two games of the preseason, Howard was receiving far too many touches on the low post of the ISO variety. Last night, it was far from that as Steve Clifford unearthed the Kemba-D12 1-5 pick-and-roll early and often.

When D12 commits to setting a ball-screen like he means it the results are riveting. And they were just that on numerous occasions last night.

Kemba has a rim-runner that he can trust to go get the ball at its highest point on the lob now. Something the dynamic point guard has never had at his disposal. Imagine how far Kemba has come with his offensive development since his rookie season. He has vastly improved his outside shooting during the last two seasons and was one of the best catch-and-shoot players in the entire league last season. Defenders aren’t allowed to go under screens or help an extra step off of him any longer. Now imagine that evolved player with a legit above the rim threat such as D12. Makes the defensive scheme extremely thin on room for error.

I mean, if D12 is rolling to the rim with this kind of spring in his step this season, forget it for opposing defenses.

D12 is open on the roll again here, but hey, Kemba wanted to share the wealth. And why not if it’s Malik Monk. Even when D12 isn’t the direct recipient of the lob pass, he’s still able to draw enough gravity to free open shooters. The Kemba-D12 middle pick-and-roll with Monk occupying the strong side is something you’ll see plenty of this season. Wow, what a quick and gorgeous motion Monk has.

Offensive rebounding is something we’ve discussed ad nauseam on Buzz Beat Radio recently. It’s a tactic that Steve Clifford should seriously consider this season now that D12 is on his team. Howard was runner-up in offensive rebounds to Andre Drummond last season and 21.7% of his offense came from putbacks. It’s a skill that Clifford would be foolish not to tap into – even though his philosophy has been to abandon offensive rebounding to get back defensively and limit the opposition’s transition chances.

Charlotte has shown signs this preseason that Clifford’s offensive rebounding philosophy is something of the past. For the time being, at least. And it’s spit out some intriguing results.

Monk

I hope that you’ve had as much fun watching Monk so far as I have. He’s special. There is no way around it – Monk’s offensive game is ridiculously advanced for a rookie. But not only that – a 19-year old! He has the picture perfect shooting stroke, a lighting quick trigger and gets great lift on the shot. Monk will also be able to play some point-guard this season without much issue (more on that). But wait, there’s more, and it’s the most important part – Monk is fearless.

Monk fired away 22 times Monday night and only converted on 7 of those attempts, but seriously, how many 19-year old rookie’s can you name that have no problem coming in and gunning their hearts out in an NBA game? He won’t be a model of offensive efficiency during his rookie campaign, but again, he’s fearless. It has to start there.

Back to the Monk at point-guard idea. He can do it, no problem. Monk has a tighter handle than most realize and has a quick change of direction with the ball in his hands. I don’t anticipate him being crowded by too many NBA defenders.

Here, Monk sets up the Hornets offense that runs a “Horns” set, morphing into some classic “Flex” (cross-screen + down-screen) action. It ends with a Zeller DHO (dribble hand-off) and delivers Monk a switch with Kelly Olynyk. A dance Olynyk likely won’t partake in next time around. You give Monk any space, he’s firing away without hesitation.

Did you know that Monk has a silky smooth looking floater as well?

And now Monk using his off hand for the very difficult finish. He literally picks up his dribble at the three-point line and still is able to get to the rim and finish with, again, his OFF HAND. Folks, this is stuff you just don’t see from a rookie.

More proof in the pudding that Monk can play some point-guard. He has a sense of where his teammates are on the floor – check out this dime from along the baseline.

Bacon

I’m going to wrap this up, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t shoutout the other Hornet rookie, Dwayne Bacon. Dude will steal your girl with that mid-range jumper and he knows it.

Bacon finished with 12 points on 6-17 shooting and had some great moments offensively – especially in the first three quarters. He’s got a long way to go on the defensive end, but with Charlotte thin in the backcourt, Bacon looks like he’s ready to log some desperation bench minutes early in the season.

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