The Kings in our Court

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Published: October 30, 2009

The Kings roll into New Orleans tonight to take on the Hornets in the home opener for New Orleans.  Both teams are 0-1, but both teams have wildly differing expectations for the season.  The Hornets are expected to make the playoffs, the Kings are expected to push to be the worst team in the league.

You’d think I’d be salivatin’ for this matchup.  I’m not, really.  The Kings worry me.  It’s not because they have a lot of awesome players.  It’s because they are are good at one thing: shooting a lot of threes.  The Hornets are really good at one thing:  giving up lots of open threes.  Last year, some of the Hornets worst defeats were at the hands of three-happy teams, so it’s not inconceivable that the Kings get hot and the Hornets go down.

Now, the Hornets should absolutely win tonight, as you’ll see in the player matchup section below, but that still doesn’t stop me from worrying.  And if the Hornets do lose, the Cleveland Cavaliers won’t be alone in the disbelieving, mournful fan basement anymore.  I’d rather not have to deal with that, because that would mean I was sad for Halloween.  Who wants a sad Halloween?

Oh – you may have noticed I didn’t start this preview with my usual stat pack.  It’s because we are one game into the season, and the sample size is so small it makes it meaningless.  That, and our defensive numbers from last game were so depressing that trying to type  them made my fingers twitch uncontrollably, so I gave up.  I’ll probably start including the stat-pack again once we hit the 10-game mark.

Injuries:

Kings: Beno Udrih may return from injury tonight.  Francisco Garcia is out after injuring himself on an exercise ball in the pre-season.  If there is anyone in the league who needs to work on their ballhandling, it’s Garcia.
Hornets: Ike Diogu is still fighting knee trouble.  Sean Marks has a stiff neck and should remain inactive.

Positional Analysis

PG: Tyreke Evans v Chris Paul
Advantage: Hornets
Evans is a promising young rookie, but he did not play well against Russell Westbrook and Oklahoma City.  Lots of fouls, lots of misses, few assists, and very few free-throws for a guard who scores by slashing.  Chris Paul isn’t going to make his life any easier on him.

SG: Kevin Martin v Morris Peterson
Advantage: Kings
Martin shot terribly last game, going 5 of 19 from the floor.  He still managed to score 1.42 points per shot for 27 points because he got to the free throw line 14 times.  And hit all 14.  The guy is a scoring machine, even if he doesn’t defend all that well.  Tonight, his defensive weakness is hardly an issue.  Peterson is as offensively threatening as my four year old, who wants you all to know she can go poo-poo in the big potty now.

SF: Desmond Mason v Julian Wright
Advantage: Hornets
Former Hornets forward who can dunk but not shoot, meet the new one. Desmond has fallen apart since his time in OKC, which makes me a little sad, and he really shouldn’t be in a team’s rotation anymore, much less starting.  Julian should be able to outplay him in a myriad of ways.

PF: Sean May v David West
Advantage: Hornets
May put up nice numbers in Charlotte when he was able to play.  However, he’s still trying to shed weight, and never matched David West even at his best.  May also has no advantage in size or strength over Fluffy, which typically means a strong game is in the offing for West.

C: Jason Thompson v Emeka Okafor
Advantage: Hornets
I like Jason Thompson alot.  He’s a workhorse big man who will probably give at least 10 and 10 throughout his career – and some seasons his scoring might creep up to the 15 level.  At some point, I wouldn’t even be shocked if he could match Okafor, but right now, as a 2nd year man in the NBA, he’s a step below.

Bench
Advantage: Kings
On pure name recognition alone, the Hornets bench with Stojakovic, Posey, Armstrong and Bobby Brown seems much more formidable than the Kings bench of Omri Casspi, Spencer Hawes, Andres Nocioni and Sergio Rodriguez.  It isn’t, though.  I’m convinced the Kings’ bench would give the Kings’ starters a run for their money.  Omri Casspi is an impressive rookie with good high-level experience in europe and an aggressive mentality.  Hawes can shoot but not rebound.  Rodriguez can penetrate and dish, and Nocioni gives lots of energy, screaming, hair-tossing and threes.  For the Hornets, Stojakovic has high-level experience, but has lost his aggression, Hilton can’t shoot or rebound.  Brown can penetrate but won’t dish, and Posey gives some energy and threes, with no hair-tossing.

To further illustrate how down I am on our bench, the Times-Picayune had an interesting article this morning about the last game.  Byron apparently put 30-0 on the board at halftime and asked the bench if they knew what it meant.  According to the article:

Only reserve guard Devin Brown, who didn’t play in the first half, knew the numerals’ significance. The Spurs’ bench had scored 30 first-half points. The Hornets’ reserves had none. New Orleans trailed 57-39 at halftime.

Maybe that’s the explanation as to why Byron keeps playing Devin – the rest of the reserves aren’t even aware when they’ve been outscored 30-0.  I mean, how can you not be aware of that?  Seriously!  30-0!

Enjoy the game!

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