Charlotte Hornets associate head coach Patrick Ewing says shooting guard Troy Daniels never figures to be a featured player on an NBA team, so he needs to find multiple ways to contribute.
Fourteen rebounds from a 6-4 guard seemed a pretty good way to help out Tuesday.
Daniels finished with team highs in points (16) and rebounds in a 64-55 victory over the Brooklyn Nets in the Orlando Summer League. The Hornets are 1-2 with two games remaining before they come home Saturday morning.
Daniels has some stiff competition for playing time at the wing positions next season. The Hornets plan to start Michael Kidd-Gilchrist at small forward and newly acquired Nicolas Batum at shooting guard. Other options are Jeremy Lamb, acquired in a trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder, and second-year pro P.J. Hairston.
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So it was important for Daniels to leave a positive impression at summer league, where he was assured of several starts as one of three players under contract to the Hornets. After a slow start in the opener against the Thunder, Daniels has made 10 of his 15 attempts from 3-point range. In the past two games he scored 37 points.
“Troy was not only knocking down shots for us but he grabbed 12, 14 rebounds. That was a great thing for us because we’d been getting beaten on the boards,” Ewing said.
“He’s not going to be a featured player on our team or any other team. So he has to do all the little things: Continue to shoot the ball well, pass the ball when he sees people open and continue to play defense. He needs to continue to build his body up.
“If he continues to do that, who knows?”
Daniels isn’t put off by Ewing’s critique. He understands, on his fourth NBA team in three seasons, that he’s on that tipping point of establishing himself as a long-term pro.
“I understand now more than ever you have to do more than just one thing. It’s very hard stay in the league,” Daniels said. “I tell a lot of young guys you have to be able do something different every single day and then do it consistently.”
One of those young players Daniels is trying to help is undrafted rookie Aaron Harrison, who again started at point guard for the Hornets. He finished Tuesday with 11 points, six rebounds and four assists.
“He obviously has a lot of work to do but he’s ready for the NBA right now,” Daniels said of Harrison, who has played very little point guard prior to this summer league. “He’s putting it on the floor, he’s making shots, he’s moving the offense.”
Ewing can be hard on players, but he was effusive with praise of Harrison Tuesday.
“I think he’s doing a fantastic job. He’s running the ball club, he’s taking his shots when he has to and he’s also sharing it with other guys on the team,” Ewing said. “He’s playing a little bit out of position – he’s more of a two-guard – but I think that for him to make an NBA roster I think that’s the position he’s going to have to play; the point.”
Rookie center-forward Frank Kaminsky, the Hornets’ lottery pick, finished with 11 points and six rebounds, his quietest game so far in summer league. The Nets went small late in the game, looking to take away some of Kaminsky’s dribble-drive game, but Ewing also thought the Hornets weren’t as effective as previously in getting the ball to their rookie big man.
“We didn’t get him the ball enough,” Ewing said. “For the next game I need to look at that; how to get him a little bit more involved in the offense.
“Tonight they played small on him at the end. That’s why I tried to post him. As it goes along teams will go small on him to try to take away his ability to penetrate.”
Bonnell: 704-358-5129; @rick_bonnell