Nick Friedman

Southeast Notes: Hornets, Vinsanity, Magic, Wizards

Hornets player development coach Nick Friedman has been tasked with improving the on-court performances of young players like Caleb Martin and Jalen McDaniels, who spend time with both the Hornets and their G League affiliate, the Greensboro Swarm, The Charlotte Observer’s Rick Bonnell reports. Friedman operates as a liaison for Hornets head coach James Borrego.

Player development via the G League worked wonders in the 2018/19 season for Devonte’ Graham (who spent 13 games in Greensboro) and Dwayne Bacon (17 games). Graham is enjoying a breakout sophomore season in Charlotte, averaging 19.0 PPG and 7.9 APG for the 15-23 Hornets, who are just two games out of the No. 8 seed in the East.

There’s more out of the Southeast Division:

  • 42-year-old Hawks wing Vince Carter became the first NBA player to suit up for teams in four different decades when he stepped onto the hardwood for Atlanta’s 116-111 defeat of the Pacers, Tory Barron of ESPN writes. The eight-time All-Star, who is playing in his record-setting 22nd season, notched a +7 plus-minus rating in 18 minutes. Barron notes that 36 NBA players who have logged one minute or more in a game this season were born after Carter’s league debut on February 5th, 1999.
  • Following injuries to versatile forwards Jonathan Isaac and Al-Farouq Aminu, the Magic are considering filling their vacant 15th roster spot, according to The Athletic’s Josh Robbins (Twitter link).
  • Although several injuries have required 11-24 Wizards to adjust their bench, it has remained among the league’s best, as Candace Buckner of The Washington Post reports. The Wizards’ bench has averaged 70 points per contest in their last five games, 14.4 PPG clear of the next-most prolific bench over the same period, the Pistons. The bench scored 92 points against the Nuggets and 80 points against the Heat, the two highest second unit marks in franchise history. “No matter who we’re plugging in, that’s the way we want to play,” backup guard Ish Smith observed.

Hornets Notes: Rotation, Williams, Friedman, Rozier

With Kemba Walker no longer on the roster, the Hornets are entering rebuilding mode, and head coach James Borrego has made it clear he’ll prioritize developing the team’s young prospects during the 2019/20 season. Still, as Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer details, that doesn’t mean that the Hornets’ veteran players won’t have opportunities to play regular roles.

“If I’m going to be a coach who says, ‘Competition is the No. 1 thing on my board,’ then I have to give (veterans) the ability to compete for minutes,” Borrego said. “I’m not strictly handing minutes to young guys. The young guys have to go earn this.”

Nicolas Batum, Marvin Williams, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, and Bismack Biyombo are among the high-priced veterans on the Hornets’ roster who could be competing with younger players like Malik Monk, PJ Washington, Miles Bridges, Willy Hernangomez, and Dwayne Bacon for minutes during the 2019/20 season. It’s possible the situation could lead to some frustration over the course of the year, but for now Williams had nothing but praise for the way Borrego is handling things.

“J.B. has been amazing for us older guys. He’s been straightforward with us, he told us the direction he’s going in, and what he wants from us. That’s all you can ask,” Williams said. “We understand the situation. When we get our opportunities, we’ll make the most of it.”

Here’s more on the Hornets:

  • The losses of Walker and veteran guard Tony Parker created something of a leadership void in the Hornets’ locker room, but Borrego believes that Williams is capable of setting an example for his younger teammates, per Bonnell. “One of the biggest things for our young guys is (to think), ‘Look at Marvin, he’s a true pro.’ Marvin checks those boxes every single day. He takes this as his job, as his profession, and there is a pride about his work every single day,” Borrego said. “I’m going to expect him to lead us in that area. He understands that.”
  • In a mailbag for The Charlotte Observer, Bonnell suggests that the Hornets probably shouldn’t expect to net more than a second-round pick if they try to trade a veteran on a pricey expiring contract this season. Biyombo, Williams, and Kidd-Gilchrist are all on expiring deals worth between $13-17MM.
  • The Hornets issued a press release today announcing a series of changes and additions to their basketball operations staff, including Nick Friedman being named a player development coach. Friedman will bounce back and forth between the Hornets and the Greensboro Swarm, accompanying players on G League assignments.
  • Ben Nadeau of Basketball Insiders explores whether a breakout season is around the corner for new Hornets starting point guard Terry Rozier.