The No. 11 pick in last year’s draft, Hornets rookie James Bouknight has played less (249 minutes) than anyone else selected in even the top 18.
He finally got onto the court for the final 14 seconds of the third quarter in Charlotte’s loss to the Heat on Saturday, when Miles Bridges got hurt. But by the start of the fourth quarter, Bouknight was back on the bench.
As the final quarter began, Bouknight popped up into Hornets coach James Borrego’s face. Bouknight quickly got yanked away by LaMelo Ball then ushered away from the bench area, not returning the rest of the game.
“As I’ve said before he’s in a tough spot,” Borrego said. “He obviously wants to play. I get that. I understand that. Look, he’s a kid that we believe in, we trust in and we are going to find more minutes for him, more time. So I won’t get into the specifics. Just two competitors trying to help this team.”
“Obviously we were all a little frustrated, all of us,” Borrego said, “in the third quarter, early fourth and it got a little emotional there. Beyond that I’ll leave it there.”
It must be difficult for Bouknight to go from such a big role at Connecticut last year to barely playing this season. But that’s something many young players face and get past.
The fear: Bouknight’s frustration is the canary in the coalmine for a team feeling tension as it slips in the standings. The Hornets have lost four straight to fall to ninth in the Eastern Conference. That kind of skid can test everyone.