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Charlotte Hornets hire Kenny Atkinson as next head coach

Andrew Buller-Russ

After weeks of toiling over who would take over James Borrego’s job coaching LaMelo Ball and Miles Bridges among others, the Charlotte Hornets have reached a conclusion in their head coach search. According to Adrian Wojnarowski, the Hornets are hiring current Golden State Warriors assistant Kenny Atkinson with a four-year deal.

Is this a good hire for Charlotte? What can Kenny Atkinson bring to the table for the current roster?

How can Kenny Atkinson help LaMelo Ball, Hornets?

NBA: Charlotte Hornets at Atlanta Hawks
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Not only does Kenny Atkinson has prior NBA head coaching experience, but he’s also been known for his advanced offensive concepts that allow teams to play fast, which is ideal for the current mold of the Hornets’ roster led by LaMelo Ball.

The 2021 All-Star has the court vision to push the pace, and the Hornets have the athletes to finish in transition. In Atkinson’s first year in Brooklyn, where he coached for four seasons from 2016 to 2020, the Nets finished first in pace of play. While they didn’t maintain that pace over his tenure, they hovered in the top-10.

But Atkinson has also been a part of staffs that have slowed the game down, like as an assistant with the Los Angeles Clippers when they played the third-slowest pace of basketball in 2020, and this past season with the Warriors finishing 13th in pace of play.

As the Hornets seek a way into the postseason, Atkinson can help them get there, and while his playoff experience as a coach is brief (losing 1-4 to the Philadelphia 76ers in 2019), he has at least been there before.

One area that Charlotte will have to address is their defensive liabilities. Atkinson doesn’t appear to be the solution either, as his Nets teams never finished better than 18th in points allowed per game. Maybe they have a big trade up their sleeves?

Related: Portland Trail Blazers could target two Hornets players, including Miles Bridges this offseason

Kenny Atkinson beat out Mike D’Antoni for lead gig

NBA: Playoffs-Los Angeles Lakers at Houston Rockets
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While the Hornets cast a wide net in their search for the organization’s next coach, they appeared to prioritize someone with prior NBA experience in the lead role. They initially interviewed several candidates such as Terry Stotts, Sean Sweeney, Darvin Ham (since hired by the L.A. Lakers), Charles Lee, David Vanterpool and many others.

But eventually, the Hornets managed to whittle their list down to two names.

The two finalists, Mike D’Antoni and Kenny Atkinson were set to meet with Hornets majority owner and basketball GOAT Michael Jordan earlier this week. It appears Atkinson’s meeting went better.

Now he’ll get the chance to make Ball into a superstar, hoping to bring the Hornets back to the playoffs for the first time since the 2015-16 season.

Related: Rudy Gobert, Bojan Bogdanovic drawing strong trade interest around NBA