By Josh Cohen
July 1, 2017
ORLANDO – Prior NBA experience is a major benefit at summer league. Players who have already experienced the physicality and speed at this level tend to excel in games played in July.
This was evident in the first game of the 2017 Mountain Dew Orlando Pro Summer league on Saturday. Treveon Graham, Johnny O’Bryant III and Briante Weber looked a step – maybe a few steps – faster and more polished than everyone else in the Charlotte Hornets’ 74-67 victory over the Miami Heat.
Graham, who helped one of the Magic summer league teams win the title last year before signing a multi-year contract with the Hornets, posted a double-double with 16 points and 13 rebounds. He also dished out four assists. He appeared in 27 games this past season with Charlotte.
A sprained ankle limited O’Bryant III shortly after he joined the Hornets after the All-Star break. A second round draft pick of the Milwaukee Bucks in 2014, O’Bryant III recorded 12 points in his first action since March 8.
Weber has bounced around the NBA the last couple of years but like Graham and O’Bryant III latched on with Charlotte this past season. A teammate also of Graham’s in college at VCU, Weber’s leadership, tenacity and alertness was on display in Saturday’s win. He tallied 17 points, five rebounds and two assists. He and Graham connected on a few scoring plays.
“That chemistry never leaves, that’s my brother forever,” Weber said about his friendship and chemistry with Graham. “We definitely seen a matchup we can exploit and me and him took advantage of it.”
“I already know what he’s going to do and he knows what I’m going to do so we always try to look for each other,” Graham added.
Charlotte’s 2017 first round pick, Malik Monk, didn’t play because of a sprained ankle. He isn’t expected to participate in this week’s competition. Dwayne Bacon, the 40th overall pick who the Hornets acquired in a draft night trade from the New Orleans Pelicans, had a decent professional debut. He scored nine points and played terrific defense.
“I feel like I had a good showing on the defensive end,” said Bacon, who grew up in nearby Lakeland and was a teammate of Jonathan Isaac at Florida State. “I’m still learning the process. I’ll keep getting better day by day.”
Miami’s first round pick, Bam Adebayo, showed flashes of excellence in his debut. The 14th overall selection and a teammate of Monk’s at Kentucky posted 14 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks in 33 minutes. A power player with tremendous size, strength and athleticism, Adebayo expects to play behind Hassan Whiteside next season.
Charlotte’s aggressiveness led to 26 free throw attempts. The Hornets also out-rebounded the Heat, 45-38. Miami shot just 31.9 percent from the field.