Game On: Hornets @ Nuggets

Published: January 9, 2011

Matchup: Hornets(21-16) @ Nuggets(20-15)

Off Efficiency: Hornets 102.5(19th), Nuggets 107.7(6th)
Def Efficiency: Hornets 100.1(6th), Nuggets 106.1(22nd)

The Rumors are flying fast and furious these days as the Nuggets have now tried to include both Cleveland and the Pistons as facilitators in the trade with the Nets for Carmelo Anthony.  It feels like the deal is closer than it has been in several months, and maybe that explains why the Nuggets have dropped back to back games against the cellar-dwellar Clippers and Kings.  Neither of those games were even really close either, with the Nuggets losing by 20 in each.

Now, I do need to caution you on this one.  The Nuggets have been up and down all season long, and their defense is one of the worst in the league, so blowouts aren’t that shocking here and there when a team relies entirely on its offense.  Still, if the transaction is close – and it includes Billups like it the rumors say it does – it’s not shocking the team might be struggling.

So the Hornets get an up and down team when they have a lot of off the court distractions.  Let’s hope their offense is going enough that they can take advantage of it.

  Kenyon Martin is still out.
Hornets:  None

Positional Analysis

PG: Billups v Paul
Advantage: Hornets
1.61.  That’s Chauncey Billups points per shot so far this season.  .416.  That’s Billups shooting percentage.  The former is why Billups deserves every plaudit and compliment he’s ever received.  The latter is why people who don’t understand advanced statistics can’t give Billups the credit he deserves. 

His shooting percentage never seems terribly high, because he takes a lot of threes, and he gets his edge scoring off free throws and hitting every damn one he gets.  To put that efficiency in perspective, it’s the 12th best in the league.  And yes, it’s 7 spots better than Paul.  So why give Paul the advantage?  Because being a Point Guard is so much more than efficiently scoring on your opponent, and while Billups is a solid, nearly mistake-free point guard, he also doesn’t see the floor as you’d want, doesn’t set up his team perfectly, and his defense has become a step slow.

SG: Afflalo v Belinelli
Advantage: Nuggets
I mentioned in the podcast that Afflalo would be someone I’d love the Hornets to pursue.  This season, his shooting has improved greatly, he averages 1.38 points per shot, drills threes, finishes his free throws, and plays solid defense.  To me, he’s Belinelli with more consistent shooting and more than a passing familiarity with rebounding.  Belinelli’s only advantage is slightly better defense and better passing.  That’s not enough, though.

SF: Anthony v Ariza
Advantage: Nuggets
Anthony has never been a world-beater when it comes to efficient shooting, and this season he’s still hovering slightly below David West territory.  Still, he’s effective enough on that end, when he really focuses, he can get himself good, easy shots, and he rebounds well.  Ariza gave him fits in the first game of this season, but I still have little faith that Ariza’s offense will show up enough to make this matchup anything but a runaway in Denver’s favor.

PF: Sheldon Williams v West
Advantage: Hornets
Sheldon’s pretty bad.  He’s a nice rebounder, but he gets stuffed more often than Okafor(that’s saying something), and is a bit undersized and relies on strength.  When West meets other undersized power forwards who rely on strength rather than speed, he’s typically going to feast.  Sheldon usually plays few minutes in favor of Harrington, but I have high hopes for Fluffy tonight.

C: Nene v Okafor
Advantage: Even
While Nene is also one of the most efficient scorers to step foot on the NBA hardwood, finishing at the rim on pick and rolls with viciousness, he does have some major problems that makes him draw even with Okafor.  He’s an awful rebounder for a center.  In fact, out of 50 centers in the league, he ranks 37th on the boards in rebound rate.  So expect him to dunk a lot, but Okafor should be able to keep him off the glass – and Nene’s advantage over Okafor in efficient paint scoring is that tremendous.(You know, I’d love to have Nene on the Hornets, though.  Paul needs a Pick and Roll finisher so bad – and Nene and Paul could be as nasty as Nash and Stoudemire was)

Al Harrington, Chris Anderson, Gary Forbes, JR Smith, Ty Lawson
The Usual Suspects

Advantage: Nuggets
When it comes to second units, the Nuggets have four of the best five players.  Anderson is a prime backup big man, Forbes and Harrington can hold down the forward spots admirably, with Harrington being starter quality, and Ty Lawson is the best point guard off the bench in the league.  Basically, I just hope JR Smith goes into stupid mode and makes this easier than it should be.

Could be a fun one!  Talk it up in the Comments!


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