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After starting the season off winning their first three games, the Charlotte Hornets will take their show on the road for the next five. As they prepare to start the road trip on Wednesday against the Golden State Warriors, let’s take a look at what you might have missed so far this season:
Miles Bridges Is Becoming A Star
After a second half of the season where Miles Bridges’ role increased when injuries to LaMelo Ball and Gordon Hayward took away two of Charlotte’s main weapons, he has looked even better this year. After averaging 15.8 points and 6.4 rebounds in the final 31 games last season, Bridges has exploded. In his first three seasons, Bridges had three 30+ point scoring games: he had three in the first five games this season.
With the team missing starting shooting guard Terry Rozier for five of the first six games, Bridges picked up his missing offense. When he returned to the lineup on Sunday against Portland, Bridges picked up his playmaking. He’s had games of nine and eight assists recently. He has not only become the leader of the league’s Most Improved Player list but if he continues this start, he has a great chance of making his first All-Star team.
Charlotte’s Defense Is Still Starting Slow And The Offense Is Finishing Strong
The old saying is the more things change, the more things stay the same. The Hornets are the league’s worst defensive team in the first half. After giving up 40 points to Cleveland on Monday night, the Hornets sit dead last in the league in points allowed in the opening quarter at 33.1. They are the only team that allows 33 or more points in the NBA. The second quarter is a bit better, the team allows only 30 points, but it’s still dead last in the league.
Those bad defensive starts have put the team in a hole in just about every game this season going into halftime. But in the second half, the Hornets are a completely different team. They lead the NBA in second half scoring and in scoring in both quarters. The team averages over 30 points in each of the quarters and are the only team in the NBA to average 60 or more points in the final 24 minutes of games.
That scoring has allowed the Hornets to be the only team to be in double-digits in second half point differential. Charlotte (+12.5 points) is almost four points ahead of the next team (Miami +8.7 points).
The Emergence Of Cody Martin’s Offensive Game
For his first two seasons in Charlotte, Hornet fans knew that when Cody Martin entered the game that he was going to play defense and make all the hustle plays that the team needed. Last year, head coach James Borrego used Martin to guard the opposing team’s best perimeter offensive player. Not known for his offense, Martin has proven to be a big part of the Hornets’ bench scoring this season.
Martin has hit double figures in scoring six times in the opening eight games and has knocked down at least one three pointer in five of the games this season. That improved offense has allowed him to average a career high 24.6 minutes per game off the bench. He’s shooting a career high 48.1 percent from the field and 50 percent from beyond the arc.