Charlotte Hornets

Charlotte Hornets coaches urge guard Troy Daniels to expand game to expand his role

Charlotte Hornets guard Troy Daniels, right, takes instruction from coach Steve Clifford in a game last season.
Charlotte Hornets guard Troy Daniels, right, takes instruction from coach Steve Clifford in a game last season. rlahser@charlotteobserver.com

Troy Daniels is a 3-point shooter and the Charlotte Hornets always have room on the roster for one of those.

But the next step in his Daniels’ development is about being more than just a jump-shooter. Head coach Steve Clifford wants Daniels to do more off the dribble. Associate head coach Patrick Ewing wants him to get stronger.

Daniels is a project, but late last season he proved to be a worthy one. When he got steady minutes in the last five games of the season, Daniels made 13 of 25 attempts from 3-point range. Even with the Hornets out of playoff contention, those numbers were an attention-getter on a team with an NBA-worst 31.8 percent accuracy from 3-point range.

Daniels will play on the Hornets’ summer-league team in Orlando, Fla., and look for him to play a lot. He’s seeking steady playing time next season and the Hornets now have a crowd of shooting guards in Nicolas Batum, Jeremy Lamb, P.J. Hairston and Daniels.

“I’ve been working a lot this summer on ball-handling and coming off ball screens. I think if I hit the ground running in summer league, I’ll be ready for training camp and then it’s so on and so on,” Daniels, 23, said after practice Thursday at Time Warner Cable Arena.

Daniels played sparingly last season after he and point guard Mo Williams were traded from the Minnesota Timberwolves to the Hornets. The trade was primarily about Williams filling in for an injured Kemba Walker, but Daniels finished the season shooting 17-of-36 from 3-point range as a Hornet.

“That’s the reason I’m in the NBA, because I shoot the ball and space the floor,” said Daniels. “That’s something Charlotte needs. I showcased it a little bit at the end of the season and hopefully I’ll get to do that more.”

But to solidify a place in next season’s rotation, Clifford said Daniels will have to show more than just 3-point accuracy.

“I’d like to see a total all-around game,” Clifford said. “He can really shoot and he’s learned how to find space to get his shots off. He’s worked really hard this summer at playing off the second dribble.

“Now I want to see it all; him knowing the defense, all of what we’re doing. He’ll get plenty of opportunities (in Orlando) in pick-and-rolls and catch-and-shoot.”

To that end Daniels has been directed to the weight room. He’s always been slim. They’re not trying to bulk him up, but he needs additional core strength to handle the rigors of the NBA.

“Guys like LeBron (James) are 6-8 and 250. I’m 6-4 and almost 200 pounds. In the NBA guys are stronger, smarter, faster. I have to be able to do all those things,” Daniels said.

“You have to be a lot stronger just to absorb the hits and survive an 82-game season. So it’s a lot of core stuff, a lot of reps. I might not look bigger, but I’m a lot stronger than I was about four or five months ago.”

Now on his third NBA team, Daniels has yet to earn a role where he can expect steady minutes. He’s learned over the past three years not to let that throw him off.

“When you’re young you have to be ready no matter what. You don’t know when your name will be called,” Daniels said.

“With more playing time I proved I can really shoot the ball, that I can handle pressure and I can play defense.”

Bonnell: 704-358-5129; @rick_bonnell

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