With LaMelo Ball having yet to take the court through the Charlotte Hornets' first three games, there has been ample opportunity for others to step into the scoring spotlight.
The loss of Miles Bridges, who may not play the entirety of the season, has been brutal as well, but the Hornets have weathered the early storm with several players stepping into the spotlight.
Former Kentucky Wildcats standout center Nick Richards has done just that. The 7-footer with a 7-foot-4 wingspan has impressed this season.
Through the Hornets' first three games, Richards is averaging 15 points per game and shooting a career-high 69.2% from the field. He has also played more than three times the minutes per game as last season and is nearing two minutes of action per outing.
That has helped Richards see a huge boost in production, going from 1.7 rebounds per game last season to 9 rebounds per game this season.
What’s even more impressive is that he’s averaging 4.7 offensive rebounds per game, which is certainly a key reason for the Hornets' 2-1 start to the season. Richards was the 42nd overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, and he only played in 18 games during his rookie season.
That increased to 50 last season and is set to be all 82 if he can stay healthy. Still just 24 years old, Richards has the size and talent to be the team’s starting center of the future.
Mason Plumlee and first-round pick Mark Williams eat up most of the minutes in the rotation, but there’s little reason to believe Richards’ success won’t lead to additional time on the court.
He’s been great so far and certainly has room to continue to grow in the Queen City.