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Time to Dethrone Some Kings

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Published: November 19, 2008

I started gathering research so I could open up this preview with an analysis of the Hornets defense.  Most of the focus over the past couple weeks has been the Hornets lack of creative scoring, but as you can see below, the Hornets defense has been arguably even worse, ranking only 15th overall in defensive efficiency so far.  Last year, the ornets spent most of the season in the top five, and ended as the seventh most efficient defense.

So, I thought it might make sense to talk about our defensive lapses too – until I actually began to dig into it.  Here’s the rub: our defensive efficiency is only .2 worse than what it was last year.  Last year we allowed 102.7 points per 100 posessions, and now we’re allowing 102.9.

When I realized that, I started going down another path – about how amazing the league’s defense has been so far this year, with 9 teams producing impressive defenses that only allow 100 points per 100 posessions or less.  However, half-way through it, I realized this post felt familiar, and I looked back at my notes.  I wrote basically the exact same thing at the beginning of December last year when I first joined Hornets247.  The gist of my post then?  The whole league had improved it’s defense – quite impressively.  Of course, by the end of the season, schedules had evened out, teams had gotten their offensive flow going, and some teams had given up, so the awesome defensive numbers ended fairly ordinary.

So I guess what I’m saying is that we really need to give them more time. Also, I wanted to point out the difference between being the second best offense in the game(last year’s mark), and where we stand right now in the 10th spot:  3.5 points.  That’s it.  Essentially, if Peja manages to get back to his career 3-point shooting percentage(not even his career best percentage last year) then we’ll be pretty much back where we were.  Amazing what one bucket more per game can do for you.

Kings(4-8) @ Hornets(5-4)

Off Efficiency: Kings 102.4(14th), Hornets 104.7(10th)
Def Efficiency: Kings 108.8(30th), Hornets 102.9(15th)

The Kings started off the season rough, opening 0-4 as they sorely missed their passing big man Brad Miller and Kevin Martin had some rough shooting games.  Then Kevin Martin remembered how to shoot, Brad came back, and they ripped off three straight wins – albiet over some poor teams.  Then Kevin Martin got hurt,  his backup Francisco Garcia got hurt, and they are now 4-8, having lost to the Memphis Grizzlies last night.

The Hornets therefore get to take on a wounded team, and for the second time  take on a team that currently holds the dubious title of having the worst defense in the league.  The Hornets, however, have their own problems.  Their offense has been struggling, their shooting has been failing, and last week managed to score 87 points against Portland – a team that is still in the bottom five defensively.  Ugh.

I’ll also mention that the Hornets have been notoriously poor over the last two years when having had at least 3 days off between games.  This year, New Orleans is 0-2.  Last year, they were 3-5.  Boo.

Injuries

Kings: Kevin Martin, Francisco Garcia, and Mikki Moore all appear likely not to play.
Hornets: Sean Marks hasn’t been activated yet.  Mike James is out because he sucks.  Hard.

Positional Analysis

PG: Beno Udrih v Chris Paul
Advantage: Hornets
Beno Udrih is being paid mid-level money – which is the average salary for an NBA player.  This sounds about right, because Udrih is an average player.  A decent scorer, so-so shooter, good ballhandler, so-so passer, and his PER stands slightly below average(15) at 13.5.  His biggest weakness is his turnovers – which plays into one of Paul’s strengths. 

SG: Bobby Jackson v Morris Peterson
Advantage: Hornets
Look – I love Bobby, but the guy has one good game every five games at this point in his career.  Morris may be up and down, but not to the extent Bobby is.  Last night Bobby shot 1-7 from three.  At least Morris knows when to try something else.  (I now expect Bobby to make me eat my words.)

SF: John Salmons v Peja Stojakovic
Advantage: Kings
Salmons gets some attention at time because he goes on scoring binges for the Kings.  However – he only produces when he’s the primary option, and is otherwise limited.  Tonight, with the injuries the Kings have, he’ll be the primary option, so he should be fairly effective.  As for Peja, all I can say is I hope he finds his shot tonight.

PF: Jason Thompson v David West
Advantage: Hornets
The Kings were hammered for taking Jason Thompson 12th in the draft this off-season, but so far he’s proven to be worth that pick in every way.  He’s averaging 12 points and 7 rebounds in 26 minutes, and producing well around the basket.  Tonight, he’ll start as Power Forward, and will probably push for a double-double.  I expect David West will abuse him inside, especially since the help defense will be Brad Miller – a guy who isn’t known for his interior defense.

C: Brad Miller v Tyson Chandler
Advantage: Hornets
I say advantage Hornets, but every year Brad Miller seems to play really well against New Orleans.  Last year he took Tyson out away from the basket and drilled jumper after jumper from about 18 feet.  Then, when Tyson closed more, he began driving and giving us fits.  Let’s hope we can contain him better tonight.  Tyson should be able to.

Bench
Advantage: Hornets
Spencer Hawes is turning into a foul-prone but effective big man.  Bobby Brown is a fast ballhandler and a solid shooter, though his playmaking hasn’t shown up yet in the NBA.  The rest of the bench would be solid, but too much of it is being forced into the starting line-up tonight with Martin, Garcia and Moore out.  The Hornets backup unit of Devin Brown, Rasual Butler, James Posey, Julian Wright and Hilton Armstrong looked promising last game – and I hope they do so tonight too.

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