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Should the Charlotte Hornets play more youth?

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Charlotte Hornets players sit on the bench during a late-fourth quarter game against the Boston Celtics at the Spectrum Center in Charlotte, North Carolina on Monday, January 16, 2023. The Celtics defeated the Hornets 130-118.

Charlotte Hornets players sit on the bench during a late-fourth quarter game against the Boston Celtics at the Spectrum Center in Charlotte, North Carolina on Monday, January 16, 2023. The Celtics defeated the Hornets 130-118.

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The Charlotte Hornets suffered another expected loss Monday, as the Boston Celtics beat them for the second time in three days.

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Boston’s Jason Tatum set the Hornets ablaze with 51 points as the Celtics, who currently hold the No. 1 record in the Eastern Conference, won their seventh straight win. Charlotte hit a home run in the fourth quarter to cut the lead to two points, then showed why they were the worst team in the Eastern Conference with so many errors. and lost, 130-118.

The Hornets (11-34) ultimately didn’t have enough talent to beat Boston (33-12) before a sellout crowd of 19,227 declared. That’s the case on many nights as Charlotte teeters through a season whose salvation will depend on what kind of high draft pick it produces. .

But here’s a question for you:

Should the Hornets play their kids more?

Even in a game where three veteran players in rotation were unavailable for Charlotte due to injury or illness, young players like Kay Jones, James Bucknight and Nick Richards didn’t see the floor on Monday.

Mark Williams, the Hornets’ 2022 first-round pick off Duke, played 17 minutes as a backup center and played well. Gt Thor played 11 minutes.

Bucknight and Jones were Charlotte’s first-round candidates in the 2021 NBA Draft and are now just afterthoughts. Richards was a second-round pick in 2020, Thor was a second-round pick in 2021 and Bryce McGowens (who played Monday’s 12 minutes) a second-round pick in 2022.

Hornets coach Steve Clifford started lineup Jalen McDaniels, PJ Washington and LaMelo Ball against Boston, all under 25.

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Boston Celtics forward Jason Tatum, center, smiles at the crowd as he walks off the court at Spectrum Center in Charlotte, NC on Monday, January 16, 2023. Tatum scored 51 points in the Celtics’ 130-118 win over the Charlotte Hornets. Jeff Sinner [email protected]
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At this point, it doesn’t matter if the Hornets win on an overnight basis. So should they give, say, some Dennis Smith Jr. minutes to Bucknight? Or should they sit out center Mason Plumley – who plays really well – and split those minutes between Richards, Williams and Jones?

I’d like to see youngsters play more myself, though I’m aware that Bouknight in particular hasn’t done much to earn him more playing time.

But Clifford would argue – and he did – that young players already have plenty of opportunities to impress him and the coaching staff. When I asked the coach on Monday afternoon about the balance between playing youth versus trying to win, he gave a four-minute, 700-word answer that revealed he had been thinking about the issue for a long time.

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Charlotte Hornets center Mark Williams, quarterback, attempts to block a pass through the lane by the Boston Celtics during a second half game at the Spectrum Center in Charlotte, North Carolina on Monday, January 16, 2023. The Celtics defeated the Hornets 130-118. Jeff Sinner [email protected]

To post Clifford’s answer in its entirety, it would take up this entire column, but here are some excerpts:

“What the fans don’t see clearly is that they (young players) have a chance every day. Like (Tuesday, in practice). They play every day. They play live, I watch them closely and we shoot.

“I think there is sometimes a misconception that when guys don’t play minutes they don’t get a chance to see them. Nothing could be further from the truth…. I’ve read articles where GMs say you can’t develop players without minutes. game. I would completely disagree with that. I would say player development takes about minutes happened.

“So the only thing I like here is Mitch (Kupchak, Hornets GM) is old school. And there’s nobody older than Michael (Jordan, Hornets owner)…. You know, we don’t have a single guy on our list who can complain right now ( About playing time.) No one, if I’m being honest….they all had a chance, well? Some did a lot better than others, and these are the guys who still get a chance.”

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Charlotte Hornets guard LaMelo Ball throws up his hands as coach Steve Clifford questions a call with referee Ashley Muir-Glish in the background during a second half game against the Boston Celtics at the Spectrum Center in Charlotte, North Carolina on Monday, January 16, 2023. The Celtics defeated the Hornets 130- 118. Jeff Sinner [email protected]

This, in a nutshell, is Clifford’s theory. Players who do not play? They practice in live scrimmages and don’t do enough there to earn game time.

All of this is likely true.

But at some point, al-Shabaab’s experimental movement might help and not hurt. The Hornets have nothing to lose this season. Losses don’t hurt anything but her pride. The more defeats accumulate, the more likely they are to get lucky in the lottery and Winning French phenom Victor Wimbanyama, the 7-foot-3 powerhouse forward.

To digress again: Since it comes so often with Hornets, let’s review the current lottery rules.

And as long as the Hornets finish at the bottom of three NBA records (they’re currently the second-worst team, behind woeful Houston), they’ll be one of the three teams with the best lottery odds. According to the NBA rule, the three worst teams all have a 14% chance of getting the first pick, which is very different from the pre-2019 structure where the worst team had a 25% chance of winning the lottery.

Despite this, the lottery is several months away. In the meantime, the Hornets need to sort through the bottom half of the roster and figure out which of these players can really play and really want to work and which don’t.

Because at some point, as hard as it is to believe, this franchise is actually going to get better. And then it will matter.

Sports columnist Scott Fowler has written for The Charlotte Observer since 1994. He has written or co-authored eight books, including four on the Carolina Panthers. Fowler has won 18 national APSE writing awards and hosts The Observer podcast “Carruth,” which Sports Illustrated named “Podcast of the Year” for 2018. His new podcast and online series is called “Sports Legends of the Carolinas” and features interviews Single with sporty NC and SC icons.
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