CHARLOTTE, N.C. (CHARLOTTE SPORTS LIVE) – Heading into the 2023-24 season, there’s a different kind of buzz in Buzz City, with the regular season starting in just three weeks.
After an injury-riddled campaign last year, the Hornets are at full strength heading into the first year under new ownership.
With the pieces in place, head coach Steve Clifford feels this is the most talented team he’s led in his career.
“I’ve coached a lot of teams that are pretty good or good or whatever,” Clifford said. “I don’t think I’ve ever been the head coach of a team that was picked really high. We’re young, but to me, this is the most talented team I’ve ever coached as a head coach.”
While it’s one thing to have talent, having every player on the roster bought in is what translates to wins. The guys say that’s been more evident now than ever before.
“I think we’re in a good spot and going the right way,” said LaMelo Ball. “Everybody is here. We pretty much started this thing like three weeks ago. Everybody has been in the gym, so I feel like we’re in a good spot.”
“It was kind of surprising just seeing all of the guys being back,” said Miles Bridges. “That just shows commitment. It shows we’re ready to win and trying to get better. That was a good thing for me.”
Speaking of guys being back, Bridges says his teammates have embraced him after being away all last year. He’s approaching his return with a selfless attitude, and Terry Rozier has noticed his growth as a leader now that he’s back.
“When Gordon first got signed here and I went to the bench, it didn’t really make a difference for me,” said Bridges. “I just want to impact the team as much as I can. I’m not worried about starting. Everything will be good this year; that’s all I know.”
“Great teammate. One of the funniest teammates I’ve ever had,” said Terry Rozier. “He’s always lighting up the mood in situations. He’s a great talker, and a lot of people don’t talk about his leadership skills. He’s a great talker when we’re in the timeouts, and I think I speak for us all when I say he’s a huge help to our team, and I’m happy for him.”
While Bridges is on his way back, rookie Brandon Miller is on his way in after being selected second overall. The former Alabama star is already getting rave reviews before even stepping on the floor for camp.
“He’s far advanced to me than guys I’ve been around in the last few years in terms of that,” said Clifford. “He’s going to be on the floor right away. He’s got size, he knows how to play, he can really pass, and he plays at both ends of the floor.”
Training camp for the Hornets is going on all week long ahead of the preseason opener on Oct. 10 against the Heat.