From: Orlando Sentinel
Date of Publication: July 7, 2017
Taking the leap from college basketball to the pros is a huge adjustment and often comes with some surprises. Former Florida State shooting guard Dwayne Bacon, however, said the Orlando Pro Summer League was exactly what he expected.
“I didn’t really have any surprises,” he said. “The speed is the same, everything is the same to me. It’s just bigger and more physical guys, but I feel like I was, you know, big enough to play and I’m physical enough to play.”
Bacon, who was selected with the 40th pick in the 2017 NBA Draft by the New Orleans Pelicans before being traded to the Charlotte Hornets, delivered up-and-down summer league performances.
At times, he used his jumpshot to rack up points with ease. But during some games, he struggled to score and had a tendency to fire away once he felt he had room, even when a teammate may have had a better look.
During the Hornets’ game against the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday, his field-goal percentage was just 29 percent despite taking 17 shots. While he is still searching for offensive consistency, he has no regrets about choosing to leave FSU after his sophomore season.
“I’m happy with the decision I made. I’m happy with the direction I’m going,” he said. “I’m still me. I’m still on the right path.”
Bacon, who grew up in nearby Lakeland, got to see a lot of familiar faces in the crowd during his time in Orlando. His mom, his cousins and some of his AAU coaches visited during the six-game tournament to support him.
The former Seminole said he was focused completely on playing well and didn’t feel having family nearby was necessarily a benefit.
“I play basketball for me and that’s what I love to do,” he said. “I mean, I love the support, but it don’t really help me do anything different.”
Bacon delivered his best summer league performance during his final game. He led the Hornets to an 86-78 win over the Magic Thursday, finishing with 29 points on 55 percent shooting and eight rebounds.
Charlotte’s coaching staff noted Bacon’s ability to quickly improve. The team announced Thursday they would sign him, declining to disclose terms of the deal.
“He’s gotten better every game,” Hornets assistant coach Stephen Silas said. “His ball handling, his pull-up jumper, his offensive package, he’s talented and we’re excited. We’re intrigued by him.”
Bacon showed flashes of offensive potential throughout the week, but his defense was consistently an issue. Charlotte’s coaching staff, however, is confident that, if he puts in the work, his defensive results will improve.
“The defense is something that he’s gonna have to work on,” Silas said. “Individual defense is pretty good, but just all the concepts and the coverages is gonna be a little bit of a learning curve from him, but we like him.”
While consistency was an issue for Bacon during summer league, he is not putting too much emphasis on just one week of play. He expects there to be plenty of opportunities throughout his rookie NBA season to learn and improve.
“For me to just get a chance in my first year to show what I got, I can always come back next year and play summer league,” he said. “I think I’m gonna get better from this year to next year, but it was a great first step for me.”