Charlotte Hornets

Who’ll start for Charlotte Hornets in Las Vegas? Also, a Martin twins reunion

Hornets coach on summer agenda

Hornets coach James Borrego on the young players’ off-season.
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Hornets coach James Borrego on the young players’ off-season.

The Martin twins are back together again with the Charlotte Hornets.

Cody and Caleb Martin, who grew up in Mocksville before playing college ball at N.C. State and Nevada, both showed up on the Hornets’ final roster for Las Vegas Summer League. Cody was drafted by the Hornets in the second round last month. Caleb, recovering from a knee injury, went unselected in the draft.

Caleb, the more accomplished scorer of the two, was back in Charlotte on Friday as the Hornets prepared for their summer league opener against the Golden State Warriors (9 p.m., NBATV). Regardless of whether Caleb plays in summer league, there are indications he’s a candidate for a training-camp invitation in September.

“He was playing pickup and kind of messed his knee up a little bit. He’s just trying to get it right in treatment,” Cody said at the Friday morning shootaround on UNLV’s campus.

Cody will start for the Hornets’ ‘summer league team. A 6-6 combo guard, he will be tried out at the point in Las Vegas. Caleb averaged about 19 points per game in two seasons after the transfer from N.C. State to Nevada.

“It just ended up working out; he had some options, and he felt like this was the best one,” Cody said of Caleb choosing the Hornets as an undrafted free agent. “Right now he’s just worried about getting his knee right. He’ll be good, it’ll just take some time.”

Summer starters

Hornets assistant Ron Nored, a former G-League head coach, will coach the summer-league team. His planned starting lineup versus the Warriors:

Guards Devonte Graham and Cody Martin, forwards Dwayne Bacon and Miles Bridges, center Isaiah Hicks.

Hicks is the only starter not already under contract to the Hornets or a draftee. First-round pick PJ Washington would be that fifth starter, but he’s sidelined with a sore left foot.

Hicks, a former North Carolina forward-center, was not selected in the 2017 draft. He’s been playing with the New York Knicks’ G-League team.

Although the Hornets have 15 players available for Friday (with Caleb Martin and Washington hurt), the holdovers from last season and the draft picks will get by far the bulk of playing time.

“The guys who are on Hornets contracts, you’re going to see a lot,” Nored said, which is standard for NBA summer playing time.

Also standard practice: Teams backing off the veterans over the course of summer league. Each team in Las Vegas is guaranteed to play at least five games. Summer league ends with an elimination tournament that can drag on several additional games. Expect core players — Bridges, Bacon and Graham — to play heavily in the first couple of games and then maybe not at all the rest of summer league.

Experimentation

Nored said Tuesday that the Hornets want to put guard-forward Bacon in a lot of pick-and-roll situations here as the ballhandler, to test how well he can make plays for himself and others. Two other areas the Hornets want to explore in these games:

Martin on the ball, Graham off the ball: Graham and rookie Martin will share being the primary ballhandler when they play together. That is both to test if Martin can be the Hornets’ third point guard next season, and to see how Graham does in situations offensively without the ball. While former Kansas guard Graham had a 4-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio as a rookie, he shot only 28 percent from 3-point range.

Bridges at power forward: Hornets coach James Borrego said Wednesday he’s contemplating starting the 6-foot-7 Bridges at power forward next season. While Bridges played at both forward spots last season, his starts were at small forward.

There’s not a huge difference between power forward and small forward at the NBA level these days, with power forwards increasingly playing along the perimeter on offense. But Nored said playing primarily power forward puts an added emphasis on Bridges’ efficiency setting screens.

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