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.
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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.