Roster Spots Up for Grabs as Hornets Fall to Hawks

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Published: October 16, 2010

No David West, no Emeka Okafor, and Chris Paul only played 11 minutes. Tonight’s game was about figuring out who was qualified to occupy those last few seats at the end of the bench and some guys played better than others in the Hornets 84-74 loss on Saturday night.

Willie Green probably locked up the back up point guard role with his second straight solid game tonight. He scored 10 points in 17 minutes and set Thornton up with a beautiful pass in the second quarter for one of his two assists. More importantly he did not have a turnover, which is going to be huge for a second unit that will need every possession to be effective.

Pops Mensah-Bonsu had his best game in his short career as a Hornet, posting 6 points on 3 of 3 shooting and snatching 9 rebounds in only 13 minutes.  With how horrible Joe Alexander has looked, Pops has an outside shot of making the team, even if it is only as a player taking up an injured reserve spot.

Q-Pon played 36 minutes and scored 10 points, but didn’t really do much else when you consider how much time he was on the floor.  As for Marcus Thornton, the good news is that he had his best game of the preseason. The bad news is that he was 3 for 11 in 23 minutes on the floor and he was part of a Hornets unit that gave up a 13-0 run to end the second quarter.

Joe Alexander must have other plans for winter because he does not look like he wants to be on an NBA roster this year. If last night did not seal his fate, then perhaps tonight did. He entered the game in the second quarter and immediately turned the ball over two times and picked up two fouls. After that brief 5-minute stint, Monty never put him back in the game.

Mustafa Shakur made his first appearance tonight, entering midway through the third quarter. He started off shaky, turning the ball over on his first possession and then badly missing a jumper on his second.  From there, he didn’t get much better as he shot 2 for 8 from the field and had 4 turnovers (and only 1 assist) in 16 minutes of play.

The Hornets have 3 more preseason games over the next five days and I would expect more of the same from Monty. He knows what he is going to get from his vets and it looks like he is starting to get an idea of what he will be getting from Belinelli, who had another solid game. What he needs to find out is who he can rely on game in and game out to come off the bench and give a solid effort. Another objective is to try to get Marcus out of his nasty funk before he carries it over into the season. The beginning of the schedule is brutal and the Hornets will need all the firepower they can get just to be .500 in the first month of the season.

16 comments
42
42

One thing I've learned is the position we use to describe a player is a loose tag at best in many cases. We need to not get so wrapped up in how a player fills the role we assign to them with a label and focus more on how the unit that's out there works. I'll use Green to illustrate. I was livid with him during the Heat game. The dude wasn't distributing the ball well. Since then, I've come to realize that while he's the guy that gets us across half court without a penalty, he's not the guy who's running the show. Rather, he makes a decision on whether to score or whether to give the ball to a 2 or 3, let's say. They then do something else. There were stretches with lots of passes going on, but none were classic assists. Lots of guys had to put it on the floor and do a little dance. Nevertheless, that unit performed. Maybe he's not as `pointy' as Chris, but he's doing what he needs to do, which is be 1/5 of a unit that doesn't consistently dig a 10 point hole. I've been guilty of wanting the second unit to just be a shadows of the first unit, but really it's probably better to have a unit with a distinct personality to help keep the bad guys on their toes, to help us dictate terms to them. Too many times last year we had pace dictated to us and rammed down out little insect gullets. I'm sick of that. Attacking a weaker version of our starters may have been a contributor to that. Living and dying by the 3 didn't help either. Willie, Monty, I'm sorry. All apologies. This doesn't make Willie a good `point' guard, mind you. He is a good `go do this specific thing with those other fellas' guard. Me asking him to do something he's not good at is a bad idea. Me designing a system to use the players I have for the foreseeable future is a good idea. And by me, I mean Monty. As for as Thornton goes, this dude went from LSU to the Hornets with CP3, to without, to with, to without, to a new coach . . . from the bench, to starting, to the bench . . . from score score score to `points don't count unless you get a stop'. The little dude's head and heart have to be screaming at the changes. He'll get right. Whether he'll stay with us remains to be seen, but he'll get right. I don't see him leaving unless it's as part of a deal that is a CP3-keeping-type move, as opposed to a I-wonder-how-Jason-Smith-is-doing-I-think-I'll-trade-for-him-and-see-type move.

Diane
Diane

A couple of things about nothin. Anybody see The Lakers and The Nuggets last night? Our old player Melvin Ely showed up as a Nugget. - Slimmed down and looked like he learned how to play basketball. So sorry for trading Darrin Collison - I can't see any of our guys playing that good. It will be great fun keeping my eye on how he does over at The Pacers. I think The Hornets will shape up when the season begins, I'm not sure why the starters aren't playing more minutes. Maybe next week.

Michael McNamara
Michael McNamara

From what people have seen so far, do you think any of these guys are Hornets beyond this year or are they just fill in pieces until we can add more talent? The Hornets will have a 3.3 million dollar qualifying offer they can make to Marco and a 3.1 million dollar one for J Smith, but I just don't get the feeling either of those guys or Pops, Green, Strawberry, Mbenga, etc are on this roster beyond this year, if that long. If you look at it that way, we might be going through a similar steep learning curve next year, with CP3, Okafor, Ariza, and Q-Pon the only guys who seem guaranteed to be back.

L_Reazy
L_Reazy

'Micheal McNamara' the Hornets would be foolish to let both Marco and J-Smith get away after this season. We're talking (1) being competitive this season and (2) building for the future. Marco is a 6-5 playing-making, three point assassin, and J-Smith is a 7-footer who has SF skill-sets. You keep rare commodities like that in the NBA. After Peja is off the books the Hornets will have Paul, West, Okafor (unfortunately), Ariza, Green, Pondexter, hopefully, Belinelli, Smith, and then we'll sign one-or-two key free agents with Peja's expiring deal. Maybe Caron Butler or a Josh Howard, etc... L_Reazy

HiMyNameisSteven
HiMyNameisSteven

why wouldnt we offer marco? he fits perfect for our team in the starting lineup with cp3. also i am pretty confident d west and marcus will be signed no questions asked. that is unless we use one or both of them in a trade this year

L_Reazy
L_Reazy

This is a message to 'rm': I am a fair man, and when proven wrong I humbly agree with my counterparts. With that being stated, I'll admit that Pops had a good game against the Hawks, and has moved onto my depth chart at #13 after I mentioned countless times that he would be cut from the roster. Also, its true that he had some mistakes in the Pacers game, but he hustled and had the highlight of the night with an alley-oop from Chris Paul on a fastbreak. All-in-all, he's put together two decent games, and deserves a spot on the team at the moment; and if Aaron Gray has one more bad game compared to another good game by Pops, then Pops would take Gray's 12th spot on the team. Once again, let's have a moment of silence for young Joe Alexander, as we bow our heads. Joe will be sorely missed. Not! F-West, F-Ariza, C-Okafor, G-Belinelli, G-Paul 6th-Green (PG / SG) back-up both Paul & Belinelli 7th-Smith (C / PF) back-up both Okafor & West 8th-Stojakovic (SF / PF) back-up Ariza & West 9th-Thornton (SG) if extra scoring punch is needed 10th-Strawberry (SG / PG) if extra defense is needed 11th-Pondexter (SF) if extra defense is needed 12th-Gray (C) if extra rebounding is needed 13th-Mensah-Bonsu (F) if someone gets hurt 14th-Mbenga (C) if someone gets hurt L_Reazy

rm
rm

I can't see how you would have Gray in for extra rebounding. 1 in 17 mins last night and I don't think he had more the night before. I think that it is worth Pops in at 12 just because he is the type of player to come in bang a few boards and slam down the odd dunk to spark everyone else up. I have never seen somebody as poor as Gray playing outside the UK. I will bow down to your superior balling knowledge but I do think Pops is worth a shot on this team.

L_Reazy
L_Reazy

Point taken 'rm' ... I've been very disappointed in Aaron Gray. Most people only can wish to be as big as he is, but he does absolutely nothing with his size besides run over people by way of accident. Maybe he could be an NFL Tackle with the Saints or something like that! Doesn't he look like a 'super-sized' version of Ben Rothelisberger? Trust me, I really like Pops, I was just disappointed with him in the beginning with some of the 'bonehead' plays he was making, and their were minutes to be had; and that's still the case. He was playing with zero urgency, but it seems like he's gotten the message now. He should be able to be out Aaron Gray, DJ Mbenga, and Joe Alexander for that 12th roster spot! I'd be surprised if he didn't ... and if he can't outplay those three for that spot on the roster ... then that says more about what he's incapable of doing! Side-Bar: Jason Smith is impressing me right now. I've been waiting for this guy to 'arrive' for 3-years now. What's not to like about a 7-footer who can shoot and put the ball on the floor? He seems to be determined to maximize his potential this year, barring injury. L_Reazy

rm
rm

Pops is getting better and showing some of what we saw in the summer. No one is rebounding like he is and I believe he has enough to make the team. He isn't going to get many minutes though and I believe he is better off in Europe getting better minutes but the dream is the dream.

JCS
JCS

These box scores are getting worse and worse. I think Monty is going to have to make some cuts ASAP.

DownUnder
DownUnder

Can someone who really knows there basketball please analyse Marcus Thorntons game just to see what the problem is? Some people think its being next to a more shoot first point guard others just think its him trying to hard to be a scorer. Is his defense good, apparently not because he has been one of the worst +/- guys on the team. Is he getting the looks that he did last year and just not making them? Or is he taking a whole array of different inefficient shots? Was he even getting good looks last year or just creating something special out of nothing? Do we have bigs in the lane that are getting in the road like Aaron Gray, Jason Smith, Joe Alexander and Pops as apposed to D-West and Meks that were in the lane when he was dominating last year. Are these new jersey's to light and dry to quickly making him feel naked which leads to a lack of confidence. Emotional problems as a side affect from loosing DC2. Something has to explain this in a way thats not related to Juju. Plzzz!

L_Reazy
L_Reazy

Marcus suffers from the 'one dimensional player' disease that's sweeping basketball nation. Last season was 'big' / 'easy' (no pun intended) for him on a bad team ... simply put by coaching, "We're not expecting much from you, so, get some shots up, if you miss them you'll remain in the game, because there is no one else after you. Besides, Marcus, your a rookie, and if their are any expectations for you it would be to fail, being that most 2nd rounders don't have much impact." Well put Jeff Bower, unfortunately we're in the Monty Williams era now, and he doesn't think that way; furthermore Marcus isn't a rookie anymore. Now, the pressure is on. We already knew he was one dimensional as a scorer, and if he wasn't putting points up then he'd be useless. As fans, we convinced ourselves that MT5 would be a consistent scorer. The truth is he can light it up, but not on a regular basis. I always had a hard time picturing him as a starting 2-guard; not because of height, but rather due to being one dimensional and inconsistent. In all due respect, Bruce Bowen had at least two skill-sets within his limitations (defense / three point shooting) on those championship teams in San Antonio. Marcus is not a dead eye three point shooter like Belinelli, he's a scorer. An undersized scorer at that. Willie Green is better as a back-up two guard than Marcus Thornton because he's shown consistency in the past with Philly. I really feel the real Marcus is showing now, because he feels the pressure of having limited time behind Belinelli, potentially Willie Green, and now that Ariza, Pondexter, and even DJ Strawberry are on the team now he is pressing for 'wing-minutes'. He knows production is needed on a regular basis, but I don't believe he's capable of it. Simply put, he thought he had the starting 2-guard spot locked up, and didn't feel like he had to expand his game over the summer! Rookie mistake, because true professional / veteran ball players should always try to get better. In my post below I have him 9th on the depth-chart for 'scoring needs' only. However, he may continue to slip below Strawberry and Pondexter. I mean, he started off as the team's projected starting 2-guard and then fell to 6th-man. A continued drop in the rotation is possible, because Monty isn't just going to give a player minutes based on what they did a season ago; no matter how many fans like him! L_Reazy

DownUnder
DownUnder

Sorry guys I should have chose my words more carefully what I was trying to say is what does other people think about this funk. Im a little more chilled than yesterday when I wrote that comment. It is only pre-season and you cant take to much thats bad or good from it. He'll figure it out, he is a 23 year old professional, not a 19 year old freshman. I_Reazy thankyou for saying what you think the issue is but that being said I wouldn't call being able to score one dimensional. Thats probably the most important thing in basketball and being able to finish, draw fouls and shoot is several dimensions to a players game. In the end we will see wont we, Marcus wasn't majorly good until the all-star break last year and maybe it is just getting your feet wet that will set him off.

HiMyNameisSteven
HiMyNameisSteven

Your looking way to far into this Thorton not being good in pre season thing. After watching 3 of the games so far there are 2 big things that i have seen from thortons game and its not being one dimensional because he has one of the most versatile offensive games l-reazy and its not because he got content off his performance last year since ive heard he worked on his game all summer. So here is what i have seen. 1) thorton is pressing way too much. everytime he touches the ball he is trying to make something happen. this is probably becuase he is trying so hard to win the starter spot but it is obvious he is pushing to hard, let the offense work out and itll get him better looks 2) with how offensively challenged our second unit looks i think this leads to marcus pushings too much. last year he got to play alongside dc giving him a much more adequate pg than green. no shot at green i think he has been fine but he isnt a point guard. becuase of this marcus is having to do to much being playmaker and scorer when he is playing most of his time with scrubs and when he does get into plays with cp3 and ariza and others he is just trying to hard. when the season comes i expect him to be aggressive still and hopefully wont force the issue too much once he realizes he just needs to be potent scorer off bench for us rather than trying to win his starter position

Ryan Schwan
Ryan Schwan

Willie Green has never touched the success that Thornton had in his brief stint last year. He's been consistent, but consistently below average. Thornton's pre-season struggles have been worrying, but demoting him this much is throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

Mark
Mark

I think we're really trying to tap into Joe Alexander's athleticism to complement CP. Yes, CP will stuff your stats, but players like Joe are like multiplying by zero. Unfortunate we didn't sign Ike Diogu for our pre-season roster.