Observer NBA writer Rick Bonnell’s player-by-player analysis of the 2015-16 Charlotte Hornets.
No. 5 NIC BATUM
Ht/Wt: 6-8, 200
Strength of his game: It’s versatility. Batum does a little of everything – passing, shooting, rebounding, defending. Coach Steve Clifford likes the decisions Batum makes with the ball and has empowered Batum to make those plays.
What he needs to do better: On a team like the Hornets, with fewer proven scoring options than his old team (the Portland Trail Blazers), Batum might pass up shots he’d be well advised to take.
No. 30 TROY DANIELS
Ht/Wt: 6-4, 204
Strength of his game: He’s here to shoot 3-pointers. His NBA career average is 38.5 percent on a team that traditionally isn’t strong in this area, so when he’s in the game he needs to let it fly.
What he needs to do better: The coaches have worked with him on his ball-handling so that he becomes more proficient at creating his own shot and moving the ball to teammates.
No. 19 P.J. HAIRSTON
Ht/Wt: 6-6, 220
Strength of his game: He’s big and strong and, according to coach Steve Clifford, improving in his defensive techniques. He was brought in for his long-range shooting.
What he needs to do better: Develop consistency in what he’s reputed to do best. Hairston took 163 3-pointers last season, yet made just 30 percent of his attempts.
No. 9 AARON HARRISON
Ht/Wt: 6-6, 212
Strength of his game: The undrafted rookie showed a knack for getting to the rim off the dribble in summer league in Orlando and he has the length to be a solid defender.
What he needs to do better: He’s new to playing point guard , so he’s a work-in-progress, and he needs to demonstrate a more consistent shot than his college statistics (41 percent from the field, 33 percent from 3-point range).
No. 50 TYLER HANSBROUGH
Ht/Wt: 6-9, 237
Strength of his game: He’s probably the most energetic of the Hornets’ big men, someone who could be used as a change-of-pace on a night when Clifford isn’t getting what he wants inside.
What he needs to do better: The Hornets had him working on a 3-point shot over the summer. Hansbrough was more effective earlier in his career with the Indiana Pacers when he took more mid-range jump shots.
No. 00 SPENCER HAWES
Ht/Wt: 7-1, 245
Strength of his game: He is a career 35-percent shooter from 3-point range, which forces opposing big men to stray from the lane to defend him along the perimeter.
What he needs to do better: He’s just an OK post defender on a team that lost its natural rim-protector when the Hornets chose not to make a qualifying offer to Bismack Biyombo.
No. 25 AL JEFFERSON
Ht/Wt: 6-10, 289
Strength of his game: He has a wide variety of low-post moves, which has become somewhat a lost art in the NBA. He’s also a strong defensive rebounder.
What he needs to do better: His mobility defending pick-and-rolls has not been a strength. He lost more than 20 pounds over the summer to ease stress on his body and improve his quickness.
No. 44 FRANK KAMINSKY
Ht/Wt: 7-0, 242
Strength of his game: He learned the game as a guard and has skills to match. He has the 3-point shooting, dribbling and passing skills to play outside the lane.
What he needs to do better: He’s still working on defensive rotations and screen-setting to better take advantage of his size.
No. 3 JEREMY LAMB
Ht/Wt: 6-5, 185
Strength of his game: The Hornets traded for him looking to improve their deficient 3-point shooting. He was a career 34.8 percent in three seasons with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
What he needs to do better: Get stronger. He’s a finesse player; the physical aspects of the game don’t seem to come naturally to him.
No. 7 JEREMY LIN
Ht/Wt: 6-3, 200
Strength of his game: A solid pick-and-roll point guard who demonstrated a knack in the preseason for getting to the foul line. He also makes 3-pointers.
What he needs to do better: He has improved defensively, but still has difficulty at times when asked to defend big shooting guards.
No. 22 BRIAN ROBERTS
Ht/Wt: 6-1, 173
Strength of his game: A solid 3-point shooter with a career 35.1-percent average.
What he needs to do better: He didn’t rise to the occasion when asked to fill in for Kemba Walker last season, which helped cause the Hornets to trade for Mo Williams.
No. 15 KEMBA WALKER
Ht/Wt: 6-1, 184
Strength of his game: An attacking point guard who can consistently get to the rim against multiple defenders.
What he needs to do better: He’s still not a strong enough shooter, making 38.5 percent of his attempts from the field last season and 31.8 percent from 3-point range.
No. 2 MARVIN WILLIAMS
Ht/Wt: 6-9, 237
Strength of his game: An adaptive veteran who is comfortable playing either forward spot, Williams has made 36 percent of his 3-point attempts the past two seasons.
What he needs to do better: Not much. He’s pretty much maxed out his ability at this later stage of his NBA career.
No. 40 CODY ZELLER
Ht/Wt: 7-0, 240
Strength of his game: He’s an above-average athlete for his size who runs the floor and finishes on the fast break.
What he needs to do better: He made only one 3-pointer in his first two NBA seasons, which is not what Steve Clifford wants from his power forwards. Zeller worked over the summer to improve his shooting range.