With starting center Cody Zeller injured and out for the foreseeable future, the Hornets plan to give big man Willy Hernangomez a chance to grab the newly available minutes provided his defense holds up, writes Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer.
“I think my defense is getting way better,” Hernangomez said yesterday. “Really knowing all the coverages (and) knowing all the scouting for the defense. All the coaches have talked to me of late and said I’m doing good things. The offense will come. I know it’s really important to focus on defense, particularly if I start. To lock in.”
Because the Hornets are about to embark on a daunting January schedule that features 10 road games and 10 opponents with records of .500 or better, Hernangomez has the opportunity to show the Hornets’ brass just how valuable he can be to the franchise. And as he knows, his defensive performance will speak the loudest volume.
“He has to protect that paint for us now,” head coach James Borrego said. “He’s got to stay in front of the ball, and rebound and defend. Not just allow guards and bigs to come down and horse us inside. He has the ability to do that.”
Hernangomez, 24, is averaging 7.4 points and 4.9 rebounds in 13.0 minutes per contest so far this season. If things go as planned for the big man, all of those numbers should go up soon.