The Birdman Flyeth and Hawks are Previewed

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Published: March 5, 2008

Chris Andersen was fun to watch in his first year as a Hornet.  Despite that being 1 BCP(Before CP) and the year the bottom fell out for the Hornets, he, PJ, and Dan Dickau made that season at least watchable if not truly enjoyable.  He was pure energy, loved to dunk, and seemed to be a genuine and nice guy.

Chris Andersen Birdman

(Worship my inept photoshop skills) 

The next year had to have been Andersen's dream. He got a nice contract.  The Hornets drafted a pass-happy rookie who liked throwing lobs.  He was playing behind a declining PJ Brown at center.  But the dream ended 32 games into the season with his suspension for testing positive for a drug of abuse.(cocaine, PCP, etc)

Now, two years later, he's coming back to the Hornets, but this time he's walking into a totally different situation.  Other than Carmelo Anthony's rookie year, when the Nuggets won 43 games, he's never played for a winner, much less a contender.  The Hornets are contenders.  Even better, the Hornets need another big man.

Here's the sad fact about the Hornets back up big men: it's charitable to call them serviceable.  Here are the stats for Ely, Armstrong, Bowen, and Andersen from his last season.  I'll list Per 48 Scoring(P48), FG%, Rebound Rate(RR). PER and WP48.  Rebound Rate is a stat that tells you what percentage of available rebounds the player gets while on the floor.  PER is a mostly offense-focused rating created by John Hollinger of ESPN, and WP48 is an overall productivity measure created by Dave Berri of the Wages of Wins.  A PER of 15 is average.  10 is terrible.  A WP48 of 0.1 is average, less than 0 means the player is so bad he actually loses games for the team he plays for.

Name  P48  FG%  RR  PER  WP48 
 Ely 15.6  45%  13%  8.65  -0.072 
 Armstrong 12.1  46%  12.4%  8.06  -0.091 
 Bowen  7.6 48%  7.8%  3.97  0.025 
 Andersen 14.1  57%  16.3%  15.40  0.132 

I think that about sums it up.  Even if the long layoff really hurts and Andersen comes back at 75% of his old self, he'd STILL be better than our current backups in almost every phase of the game. 

So, everyone welcome the Birdman.  Byron won't give a timeline for his first game.  So we may see him tonight – may not.


Game Preview

Matchup: Hawks(24-34) @ Hornets(40-19)
Off Efficiency: Hawks 101.2(22nd), Hornets 107.8(9th)
Def Efficiency: Hawks 104.0(15th), Hornets 102.2(7th)

At one point, it looked certain that the Hawks were going to break their long playoff drought this year, but they've fallen off drastically recently, losing 7 of their last 10.  There are rumors that their coach is half-way out the door and his players don't listen to him.  They are also a terrible road team, having gone 7-22 to this point, and they have to come to New Orleans tonight after playing a track meet against the Golden State Warriors last night.  Not a recipe for Easy in the Big Easy.

That said, the Hornets have not been getting up for games against teams they believe are beneath them.  The lack of energy equates to lack of defense and going against the Hawks, that's dangerous – they can get hot behind Joe Johnson, Josh Smith, and now, Mike Bibby.  The guys need to show some gumption and make sure that doesn't happen.

Both teams are pretty much at full strength other than Hawks Rookie Acie Law having a sprained wrist.

Positional Analysis
PG:
Mike Bibby v Chris Paul
Advantage: Hornets
The Hawks have been lambasted for several years for not having a Point Guard and instead picking up a redundent set of lanky swingmen and thin power forwards.  True to form, when they went out and traded for a Point Guard this season, they grabbed one of the least Point-like point guards in the league.  Mike Bibby is basically a shooting guard at this point in his career, firing away from deep whenever he feels like it.  He can be dangerous if he gets hot, but he doesn't drive, doesn't defend, and doesn't run an offense any longer.  Chris Paul will eat him alive.

SG: Joe Johnson v Morris Peterson
Advantage: Hawks
Joe is a volume shooter and scorer, particularly from deep.  He's a decent passer and rebounder for his position.  On the minus side, he isn't that efficient and loves him some turnovers.  Peterson is finally back on track, and if he plays well, this advantage can be minimized.

SF: Marvin Williams v Peja Stojakovic
Advantage: Hornets
Marvin has a nice mid-range game, and has developed into a serviceable scoring small forward.  He's not very good at much else, and doesn't have much shooting range.  He's basically become a more limited Rashard Lewis, which is sad considering how much potential he was credited with when he came out of college.  Peja has a more versatile offensive game, and doesn't play defense much worse than Marvin.

PF: Josh Smith v David West
Advantage: Even
Clash of styles here.  West is a methodical, fundamental player with a nice jumpshot.  Josh Smith is an athletic freak with fewer fundamentals than a meeting of atheists.  Smith will have amazing plays on both ends of the court, while West will plug away, producing the same or more results without needing(or being capable of) the amazing blocks and dunks.

C: Al Horford v Tyson Chandler
Advantage: Hornets
Al Horford, meet your future.  Horford is already a great rebounder and developing defender and shot blocker.  I actually think his offensive ceiling is higher than Chandler's, though it's not on display right now.  In two more years, I wouldn't be surprised to see Horford averaging 18 and 12.  Right now, though, Chandler has got him handily.

Bench
Advantage:
Even
The Hawks have one versatile super sub in Josh Childress, and a streak shooter in Salim Stoudamire.  That's it.  Their backup big man Pachulia has fallen out of favor and the rest of the team is pretty weak.  The Hornets have a streaky, spottily effective bench.  I'd probably take the Hornets group, if forced, but not by much.

Hornets win 103-96.

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