Cody Martin vs. Duke

Sophomore guard/forward Cody Martin drives the ball into the paint in the Wolfpack's 80-88 loss to Duke on February 6, 2016. Martin transferred to Nevada for his final two season in college and was drafted by the Hornets in 2019. 

Since starting the Las Vegas Summer League with a 1-1 record, the Hornets went 1-2, finishing Summer League with a 2-3 record with a win over the Utah Jazz.

The team lost to both the Chinese National Team and the Chicago Bulls in the qualifying round before being ranked 24th in Summer League and playing a consolation game against the Jazz.

In the 84-80 loss to the Chinese National Team, young players Miles Bridges, Devonte’ Graham and Dwayne Bacon did not play. In their place, the Hornets started second-round pick Cody Martin, Josh Perkins from Gonzaga, draft and stash player Arnoldas Kulboka, second-round pick Jalen McDaniels and veteran Isaiah Hicks.

Of the team’s starters, Kulboka and Hicks played well. Kulboka finished with 18 points, four rebounds and two steals on 58.3% shooting from the floor and 37.5% from 3. Hicks finished with 12 points on 71.4% shooting.

Last year’s two-way contract player and current free agent Joe Chealey also showed off in this game, finishing with 16 points and six assists on 66.7% shooting, bolstering his case for being re-signed.

In the following game, the young Hornets in Bridges, Bacon and Graham played, but the Hornets still lost to the Bulls in a low-scoring game. Hicks led all Hornets scorers with 15 points to go along with eight rebounds and three steals.

After losing both games, the Hornets were ranked 24th and prepared to take on the 17th-ranked Jazz in a consolation, non-tournament game. The Hornets won the contest in an impressive 10-point win.

The most impressive player in the game by far was Kennedy Meeks, who has spent some time with NBA teams after his career at UNC-Chapel Hill. Meeks finished the game with 18 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and a steal on 8-of-11 shooting from the floor coming off the bench.

Overall, the Hornets had an iffy Summer League showing. Barring any trades and pending the contract signings of Cody Martin and McDaniels, the Hornets have one standard contract space open and one two-way contract spot open, meaning that all players on the team have an ample chance to make the Hornets camp roster. 

As for former NC State guard Torin Dorn, he played just one game for the Hornets in the win over the Jazz, finishing with one rebound, three assists and a steal in just nine minutes of action. Dorn could still make the training camp roster of the Hornets, but it may be more likely that he begins the season with the Swarm or another G-League club.

Regardless of how the Hornets look to fill out their roster, they can almost do no wrong, as so many players looked like they had NBA-level talent, despite the overall record of the summer Hornets. Whoever does not make the final cut will either end up with the Hornets’ G-League affiliate, the Greensboro Swarm, or will end up on another team’s final roster.

As for the Hornets that are already guaranteed a spot on the roster in one way or another, games were overall a mixed bag. Bridges, Graham and Bacon were all greatly impressive, and all likely will see the Hornets regular-season rotation. Bridges in particular may have earned himself a starting spot, as he flashed his athleticism, maturity and overall efficiency in each game.

The other young Hornets, however, left more to be desired. Former NC State guard Cody Martin had some stretches where he looked like he could be a quality backup NBA point guard and others where his decision-making was questionable. The loss to the Chinese National Team stood out, as Martin finished with just nine points on 28.6% shooting from the floor. On top of this, he had five turnovers, including a costly one late in the game. While Summer League is not the deciding factor of how a player will fare in the NBA, it is clear Martin will need to hone his craft with the Swarm this season.