2010-2011 – here we come

Published: November 1, 2010

As the hornets started 3-0, here are some impressions, why this was possible, why this wasn’t very easy and why it’s so important.

First of all, let’s discuss some differences between this first three games and the last two years. With Thornton, Green, Belinelli and Bayless, the roster counts four potential shooting guards. Even if this group lacks a particular top-notch starter, all of those guys could be an at least solid starting two-guard and that seems to be a much better situation in comparison to the past, where small forwards were asked to play guard all the time (Butler, Posey, Stojakovic etc.).

One result of an improved all around guard rotation is a more diversified offensive attack and the possibility to score without CP touching the ball on offense. Thats one reason for an improved bench play, that could be observed occasionally. It’s true that the all around front-court-talent on the team is very limited. West is the only weapon on offense, Okafor is solid but nothing special and the rest of the group is unproven to be serviceable for a complete regular season. The focus for the latter guys is defense, setting screens and avoiding mistakes. So far, it has worked out pretty good to be a guard loaded squad with an improved defensive mind-set. Another important observation is that Monty is eager to sub in all 12 guys early. It seems that he quickly wants to figure out what rotation is going to work for a particular opponent and keeping everybody fresh for a physical demanding defensive play down the stretch. I can’t remember Scott or Bower try to involve 12 guys in one single game.

When coach Williams started his job, he mentioned defense as his main focus immediately. You can see more effort put into defense by the players right now, but the individual class of Ariza and an improved pick-n-roll defense stands out for me. Those two aspects were crucial in the past, as there was no great one-on-one defender on the roster and the pick-n-roll-situations couldn’t be handled properly.

Winning the first games was very important to the hornets organisation and coaching staff. Rumors and critisism were shut down before they even came up and the team was provided with a much needed spark of confidence on the court. They almost just had to win the first game against a very mediocre Bucks-squad, but the showings against the Nuggets and at San Antonio in the second game of a tough back-to-back really set the tone. Talking playoffs isn’t so cheap anymore, even though it’s still a long way to go.


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