I have always admired Charlotte Hornets coach Steve Clifford for his honesty, as well as the specifics he offers when you ask him a question. With that in mind, here are four things Clifford said at a preseason media lunch a few days ago that struck me as notable:
1. He called Chris Paul the best point guard in the NBA (a few million Steph Curry fans would disagree).
2. He said the Hornets played what has become the NBA’s go-to offense for most of the elite teams – “four-out,” which means four players outside the three-point line to begin the play and only one working in the paint – a modest 51 percent of the time last year. He indicated that number would be much higher in 2015-16, which means Cody Zeller sure better learn how to shoot the corner three under pressure.
3. He wants Kemba Walker, a career 32 percent shooter from 3-point range, to improve to 38 percent this season, and he believes it can happen because defense won’t be able to focus as much on Walker this season.
4. He said he played guard Mo Williams, acquired in the middle of last season, “into the ground” once he got to Charlotte. Williams had a very fast start with the Hornets but then tailed off in a hurry.