Hornets summer league report card: James Bouknight

It’s not often that you see third year players playing summer league basketball for the team that drafted them. It’s even more rare when that player was a lottery pick. If I remember right, there were two non-Hornets drafted in 2021 playing summer league for the team that drafted them, but neither were anywhere near being lottery picks.

Given Bouknight’s time in the league and extensive experience in the G League, he was expected to be one of the better players in all of Summer League. He’d play a couple of games, excel, then get shut down. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. Not really even close either.


Bouknight played in six summer league games between the California Classic and the Las Vegas Summer League. In those six games, he registered five total assists. Five assists in over 141 minutes of floor time. He turned the ball over eight times as well. He didn’t make up for it with efficient scoring either–he converted 38.4% of his field goal attempts and 23.1% of his threes. He got to the line enough to shoot just eight free throws.

The poor performances went beyond the stat lines. The same issues that have plagued Bouknight as an NBA player were just apparent in the summer league. He was slow to make decisions and hesitant to dribble towards the basket. It felt like the majority of his offensive possessions consisted of a few unproductive dribble moves followed by retreat dribbles ending in tough step backs shots or swing passes on the perimeter. There wasn’t much in the way of rim pressure or driving and kicking to shooters on the perimeter. It was just a lot of nothing.

Bouknight wasn’t the only player guilty of these trangressions, but they stand out more given his experience and pedigree. If anything, he looks like he’s regressed from his first summer league, where he was surprisingly competent running the point and put a lot more pressure on the rim. It’s probably not a coincidence that by the far the most cohesive offensive game the Hornets played was when Bouknight was shut down.

In his defense, Bouknight did pour in 28 points in his last appearance, so that’ll save him from a complete failure of a grade. But even that couldn’t pull his overall numbers up to respectability.

Grade: D-


James Bouknight was never known for his defense coming into the league, and it’s hard to expect a player that’s guaranteed a roster spot to really go all out defensively, but Bouknight again failed to deliver any sort of performance reminiscent of a third year lottery player. He generated six steals against disorganized summer league teams and failed to make any of the dazzling athletic plays we saw earlier in his career, like this one.

Instead, there were more plays like this. A lack of focus or attention to detail, leaving players open and not playing with any sort of urgency.

He had almost twice as many fouls (15) as he had steals + blocks (8). Given his offensive struggles and the competition for a minutes at the guard spots, Bouknight needed to prove he can be a strong defender even when his shots aren’t falling. He did not do that in the slightest.

Grade: D


In a general sense, Bouknight’s presence in the summer league was a failure. It might be generous to give him passing grades here, but he at least did a few good things that people can hold onto. But by in large, he didn’t look any different than the dozens upon dozens of undrafted players trying to latch onto a two way contract somewhere. The Hornets have to decide whether or not to pick up the fourth year of Bouknight’s contract by the end of October. After seeing him in Summer League, it’s hard to make a good case for the Hornets to pick it up.

Overall Grade: D

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