It’s been since mid-April since the Charlotte Hornets last played a basketball game. Monday night in Boston (7:30 p.m.) won’t count – it’s the first of five preseason exhibitions – but it is a glimpse at how the roster that was remade in the offseason will be equipped to get back to the playoffs.
The game will be nationally televised on NBATV, and the radio call will be on WFNZ-AM 610. Ten questions to ponder while you watch:
▪ How well connected is new center Dwight Howard with playmakers Kemba Walker and Nic Batum? Batum said it’s important to find Howard for some deep catches in the post to force opposing teams to contract. If that happens, he creates more open looks for the outside shooters.
▪ How ready is rookie Malik Monk? He missed summer league and most of the summer while recovering from a severe ankle sprain. You will likely see him some at point guard, in addition to shooting guard, some in the preseason.
▪ Can second-round pick Dwayne Bacon crack the playing rotation? It’s been since Jeff Taylor that the Hornets developed a second-round pick to any extent.
▪ Is Julyan Stone still an NBA guard, after spending a couple of seasons in Europe? The Hornets like his physicality and his passing at the point. With Michael Carter-Williams (knees) still out, Stone will be the first option behind Walker.
▪ How good will center Cody Zeller be in his new role? Zeller becomes sixth man, with Howard moving into the starting lineup. He’s embracing that role, and he should: It’s a big opportunity to excel against backup centers.
▪ Is the offseason excitement about Jeremy Lamb justified? The coaches said guard-forward Lamb had a terrific summer of individual work. How will that project in games?
▪ Is Johnny O’Bryant ready for NBA minutes? He became the Hornets’ fifth big man when the Hornets kept him on the roster beyond his guarantee date for this season.
▪ Is Walker fully recovered from summer knee surgery? He should be matched some against new Boston Celtic Kyrie Irving.
▪ What is former Duke player Jayson Tatum’s potential? The Celtics used the No. 3 overall pick on Tatum, and one NBA executive I spoke with says he has the highest ceiling in this rookie class.
▪ How good are the new Celtics? The Hornets once signed Gordon Hayward to an offer sheet the Utah Jazz matched. Now he’s left Salt Lake City for Boston.