By Josh Cohen
July 4, 2017
ORLANDO – The Charlotte Hornets hope they landed a second round gem in Dwayne Bacon, who grew up in nearby Lakeland and played collegiately at Florida State. Bacon has good size, strength, scoring instincts and defensive toughness. Some mock drafts throughout the year had him as a potential late first round pick.
The Hornets must be encouraged after Bacon’s 17-point performance in Charlotte’s 95-81 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder in Mountain Dew Orlando Pro Summer League action on Tuesday.
Bacon was productive and physical during his 29 minutes on the floor. He shot 6-of-12 from the field, made all four of his free throw attempts and was locked in defensively.
“He has a lot to his game,” Hornets summer league coach Stephen Silas said. “We’re excited to see what he can do as we go through. He’s learning. It’s new for him. It’s a different game than he’s played before. He’s definitely intriguing.”
“Working on all-around game but defense first,” Bacon said. “Showing that I can defend which I think I did pretty good today. Just getting better day-by-day, step-by-step.”
With the additions of Bacon and Malik Monk, who is sitting out summer league while recovering from a sprained ankle, Charlotte now has far more depth in the backcourt. Sliding Nicolas Batum back up to small forward – he mostly played the shooting guard spot last year – and acquiring Dwight Howard should give the Hornets more athleticism in the frontcourt.
Perhaps this week’s most impressive player has been Treveon Graham, who signed with the Hornets last offseason after leading one of the Orlando Magic’s summer league teams to the title. Graham was on target from long distance as he knocked down three of his four 3-point attempts and finished with a game-high 19 points.
Charlotte as a whole was solid from 3-point range (10-for-25) and the Hornets did a good job speeding the game up (24 fast break points). Kris Joseph, a former second round pick of the Boston Celtics, posted 12 points off the bench.
“The second group came in, did a really good job and then the starters who didn’t play well at all at the beginning picked it up for us,” Silas said.
OKC rested most of its core summer league players. Josh Huestis, Semaj Christon, Dakari Johnson and Markel Brown all sat out and the Thunder’s 2017 first round pick, Terrance Ferguson, hasn’t been cleared to play because of FIBA rules.
Vince Hunter led OKC with 16 points, while Daniel Hamilton scored 15 and Dylan Ennis and Rashawn Thomas each had 13.
The Hornets limited the Thunder to 41.2 percent shooting from the floor. Neither team scored any second chance points.
The Hornets return to action on Wednesday when they take on the Pistons at 3 p.m. while the Thunder tip off two hours earlier when they clash with the Mavericks.