Hornets continue training camp as they speed up preparations for Saturday’s start of preseason

By Richard Walker

Charlotte Hornets coach James Borrego expects to see some sloppy play once his team begins its preseason slate on Saturday and possibly into his regular season.

A third-year head coach, Borrego is determined to put in place his teaching concepts in a manner that won’t overwhelm his team or his staff.

“Instead of being play-driven or set-driven, we’re more concept-driven,” Borrego said Wednesday on a zoom news conference. “It may not be as clean offensively early on but that’s what we’re going to have to do.”

That’ll start on Saturday when the Hornets begin their four-game preseason schedule at home on Saturday night against Toronto at 7 p.m.
“For me, it’s about evaluation and getting a good run out there,” Borrego said. “What is unique is that I didn’t have a lot of evaluation data on the young guys. Usually, I would’ve had a summer league to evaluate our new players.
“Right now, I’ve got to dig into the top 10, the top 12 players in order to get some kind of rotation.”

Charlotte’s leading returning scorer Devonte’ Graham understands the process and says Borrego has pushed the team pursue defensive excellence initially.

“A lot of it is going to be, ‘Where are we defensively?'” Graham said Wedneday in a zoom news conference. “We’ve been drilling about being in the right spots, making the right reads and helping each other.”

Graham averaged 18.2 points per game last season as the Hornets return all six double-figure scorers from a team that went 23-42 overall; The others are Terry Rozier (18.0), Miles Bridges (13.0), P.J. Washington (12.2), Cody Zeller (11.1), Malik Monk (10.3).

Veteran Gordon Hayward, who was acquired from the Boston Celtics in a sign-and-trade deal, and rookie LaMelo Ball, the No. 3 overall pick in last month’s NBA Draft, have also been added to the roster.

“We want to get more involved in concepts,” Borrego said. “Ultimately, I want to be positionless.”

Borrego later mentioned specifically he wanted to run plays for the following players – Ball, Hayard, Rozier, Graham, Washington and Bridges.

And he wants to set up the rotation for regular season games in the preseason.

“I’ve got to focus on getting those guys some minutes,” Borrego said. “By (preseason) games three or four I’ll have a better idea of how I’ll evaluate players.”

2020-21 Charlotte Hornets schedule

Nov. 12 TORONTO 7:00
Nov. 14 TORONTO 7:00
Nov. 17 at Orlando 7:00
Nov. 19 at Orlando 7:00
(Regular season)
Wed. 23 at Cleveland 7:00
Sat. 26 OKLAHOMA CITY 7:00
Sun. 27 BROOKLYN 7:00
Wed. 30 at Dallas 8:30
Fri. 1 MEMPHIS 7:00
Sat. 2 at Philadelphia 7:00
Mon. 4 at Philadelphia 7:00
Wed. 6 at Atlanta 7:30
Fri. 8 at New Orleans 7:30
Sat. 9 ATLANTA 7:00
Mon. 11 NEW YORK 7:00
Wed. 13 DALLAS 7:00
Thu. 14 at Toronto* 7:30
Sat. 16 at Toronto* 7:30
Wed. 20 WASHINGTON 7:00
Fri. 22 CHICAGO 7:00
Sun. 24 at Orlando 6:00
Mon. 25 at Orlando 7:00
Wed. 27 INDIANA 7:00
Fri. 29 INDIANA 7:00
Sat. 30 MILWAUKEE 7:00
Mon. 1 at Miami 7:30
Fri. 5 UTAH 7:00
Sun. 7 PORTLAND 1:00
Wed. 10 at Memphis 8:00
Fri. 12 MINNESOTA 7:00
Sun. 14 SAN ANTONIO 7:00
Wed. 17 CHICAGO 7:00
Fri. 19 DENVER 7:00
Sat. 20 GOLDEN STATE 7:00
Mon. 22 at Utah 9:00
Wed. 24 at Phoenix 9:00
Fri. 26 at Golden State 10:00
Sun. 28 at Sacramento 9:00
Mon. 1 at Portland 10:30
Wed. 3 at Minnesota 8:00

* At Amalie Arena in Tampa, FL
Home games in CAPS

2nd half of season to be announced later