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Snuffing the Suns – and Other Stuff

Published: December 3, 2008

Before we get to the game, I wanted to address one item about the Hornets:

Is Rebounding the Problem?

The steady drumbeat coming from Byron Scott during this entirely too long five-day layoff has been that the Hornets big men aren’t rebounding enough.  Both Chandler and West have had some pretty steep declines in their rebounding this year, however, I do want to point out a few mitigating factors that are being ignored, especially by the beat writers who never seem able to use anything but raw per game averages.

First – it’s been thrown around a lot that the Hornets are last in the league in rebounding, grabbing only 37.7 rebounds a game.  That’s nice, but it’s a pretty useless stat by itself, because the Hornets also play games that have the fewest available rebounds due to a really slow game pace and few free throws.  To make that number mean something, you also have to know that the Hornet’s opponents are getting 38.0 rebounds a game.  No, that’s not good, but is it catastrophic? League Worst? No, it simply makes us merely an average rebounding team right now, not a good one.

How does that compare to the Hornets gold standard(last season)?

The Hornets are tied for 15th in rebounding right now, grabbing 49.8% of all available rebounds.  Last year, the Hornets grabbed 51.2% of all available rebounds.  Where does the decline come from? Entirely on one end of the floor.  The Hornet’s defensive rebounding hasn’t changed at all.  They are posting the exact same numbers on the defensive glass as last year, snatching 75.4% of all misses by the other team.  That number is actually the 5th best in the league.  This also jives with my impressions of the Hornets – even though West and Chandler haven’t been grabbing the ball, typically on the defensive end I do see them boxing out hard – which allows Chris Paul(who has been making a determined effort to do this) or Devin Brown to dart in and snare the ball and head upcourt.   That’s not even a bad thing – the faster Paul gets the ball and puts pressure on the other team, the better.

The problem with our rebounding comes on the other side of the floor – where we are nabbing only 24.5% of the available offensive boards, down from 27% the year before.  That number is the 26th worst in the league.  This decline can be blamed more easily on West and Chandler because the Hornets only send two players to crash the offensive boards per posession, a big wing(not Peja) and either the center or power forward.  The rest get back.  Last year Tyson and West combined to grab about 65% of our 11.4 offensive boards per game.  This season they are grabbing 45% of only 9.3 per game.  If West and Chandler can return to their old ways on the offensive glass alone, the Hornets would catapult from 15th to 7th in rebounding.  Let’s hope they get it together.

Other Notes

Two weeks ago I posted the full list of the Hornets primary problems, with the top being free throws that were costing the Hornets an additional 4.5 points per game.  The second was turnovers.  After the road trip, the Hornets are now back to where they were in turnovers per game last season.

The free throw issues have also improved, though we are still giving up more free throws than we are taking.(22 to 24)  I’m not sure I’m confident this will improve much more.  Posey likes delivering hard fouls(he’s still doing two stupid fouls a game) and as long as Hilton “Foul” Armstrong plays more minutes, we’ll be giving up lots of freebies.(Hilton is averaging more than one foul every 5 minutes.  That’s so bad if he played an entire game and one overtime period he’d foul out twice)

The Game vs. the Suns

There isn’t much new to say about the Suns that I didn’t say back in this preview.  Despite their 11-7 record, the Suns haven’t played that well over their last few games, losing badly to Miami and the Nets, while barely getting by Oklahoma and City and Minnesota in the two games before.

The Hornets, of course, come in with their own problems, not exactly having proven their dominance so far this season.

Changes from that earlier game preview? 

For the Hornets, I still don’t know if Morris Peterson is coming back yet.  However he and Rasual Butler are virtually interchangeable in the starting lineup,  so it’s more of a bench issue.  Oh, and Sean Marks is back, so Shaq better be afraid.

For the Suns, their bench isn’t looking very good.  Barbosa, dealing with the death of his mother, still hasn’t found his shot.  Goran Dragic was bad and has been benched in favor of fellow rookie Mike Singletary, and Boris Diaw is still about as consistent as Stephon Marbury’s state of mind.

Enjoy the game.  I hope the long layoff doesn’t make our guys sluggish.  History suggests it may.

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