Game On: Hornets @ Raptors (Live Chat)

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Published: March 1, 2011

Matchup: Hornets(35-26) @ Raptors(16-44)

Off Efficiency: Hornets 103.5(18th), Raptors 102.9(21st)
Def Efficiency: Hornets 100.5(6th), Raptors 109.6(29th)

The Raptors, due to last season and the nature of their players, have the reputation of being an explosive offensive team. They aren’t, though I would still call them an offense-focused team. In fact, there isn’t a player on their team other than maybe Amir Johnson or Reggie Evans who give much of a thought to defense.

That doesn’t mean, however, that their offense is any good, because it isn’t. They are 21st in the league in offensive efficiency, and of the six guys who take the most shots for the team, none of them manage better than 1.22 points per shot. They average 1.14 points per shot. That means that their top six shooters produce at about the same rate Willie Green has all year.

Yeesh.

Outside of their scoring issues, the Raptors also show their offense-centric tendencies when it comes to rebounding. Although they are a poor rebounding team, they are actually in the top 10 when it comes to offensive rebounding. Correspondingly, they are in the bottom ten in defensive rebounding.

Finally, they are one of the league leaders in fouling and giving up free throws. That makes me wonder – which team will blink first? The Raptors want to give you free throws, but the Hornets don’t want to take them. It’s like a battle between Imperial Stormtroopers, who can’t hit the broad side of a barn, and redshirt security officers from Star Trek, who can’t help but be shot whenever they appear on screen.  Who wins?

Injuries:

Hornets: None
Raptors: Reggie Evans and Linas Kleiza are out. Bargnani is “AWOL” according to his coach, but should play.

Anyone else glad we never hear that kind of garbage about our team?

Positional Analysis

PG: Chris Paul v Jose Calderon
Advantage: Hornets
Sure, Paul has been struggling, but Jose Calderon’s shooting has been poor and he never gets to the free throw line. He’s still a solid, low turnover passer that leads a squad that doesn’t turn the ball over often. I’ve also noticed that Paul seems to get under Calderon’s skin. It’ll be interesting to see if that happens again and if Calderon will try to get after Paul. That always becomes entertaining.

SG: Willie Green v DeMar DeRozan
Advantage: Raptors
DeRozan has developed into the Raptors most efficient scoring threat. Still, that’s damning him with faint praise. He scores 1.227 points per shot, which is barely above average in the league. His turnover numbers are nice, but everywhere else, he’s awful. No rebounds. No assists. No steals. No blocks. For an athletic freak, that’s disappointing. Sadly, everything I just said could describe Willie, except he’s not quite so prolific a scorer.

SF: Trevor Ariza v James Johnson
Advantage: Hornets
James Johnson is a new Acquisition for the Raptors, who are hoping he will provide what Julian Wright was supposed to provide. Sadly, I think they can expect the same sort of mediocre rebounding, bumbling offense and lost defensive rotations. Ariza isn’t much offensively, but he’s still a fantastic defender.

PF: David West v Amir Johnson
Advantage: Hornets
I’m an Amir Johnson fan. He works hard on the boards, finishes well around the rim, blocks a good amount of shots, and is the only Raptor who tries defensively. Sadly, he’s never figured out how to defend without fouling, and his foul rate is so high he has trouble staying on the floor. He’ll make David West work, but I expect West to go at him and get his butt nailed to the bench.

C: Emeka Okafor v Andrea Bargnani
Advantage: Hornets
Bargnani is a paper tiger. He takes too many long jumpers, only gets a mediocre number of foul shots, and is only a mediocre shooter. He doesn’t rebound, assist, block shots, or defend – and he turns the ball over at a stupid rate for a jump-shooter. I’d take Okafor and his rebounding, defensive prowess, and efficient complimentary scoring any minute of the day.

Bench

Ed Davis, Leandro Barbosa, Jerryd Bayless, Sonny Weems, Alexis Ajinca vs
Carl Landry, Marco Belinelli, Jarrett Jack, Jason Smith, Quincy Pondexter
Advantage: Even
Ed Davis and Bayless are solid for the Raptors, but Barbosa hasn’t been good in years and Ajinca is terrible. At some point later this month, when the Hornets have a few practices to work on stuff with Landry, I expect the Hornets to field a better, more cohesive bench unit, but for now, I can’t give them the edge.

Anyone else worried because this game preview seems so optimistic?  Me too.

Enjoy the game!

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