What to Expect When You Are Expecting: Anthony Davis and the Point God

Published: October 5, 2012

As part of a reoccuring piece, Hornets247.com takes a look at the rookie seasons of franchise players to get an idea of what to expect from Anthony Davis.

The Team

2004-2005 New Orleans Hornets

The Hornets in 2004-05, pre-Chris Paul, were a wreck. Mason summed up the team here, and it’s worth checking out to understand how bad that Hornets team was. But to put it simply: They were putrid. The team finished with a measly 18 wins (in a non-shortened season) which was tied for second worse in the league.

That season, the Hornets traded their best player a disgruntled Baron Davis, and the supporting cast which was left over was pretty weak. The defense was respectable, allowing 95.5 points per game (good for 10th in the league), however the offense was completely inept. For the 2004-05 season, the Hornets finished last in points per game and offensive rating while finishing 28th in pace. On average, the Hornets were outscored by 7 points per game–and that factors in the 18 games where they scored more than their opponent. Needless to say, the Hornets were on the wrong end of a few blowouts.

Attendance was also a problem and the Hornets finished dead last in the league for total attendance.

Really, there were few bright spots for a team whose leading scorer was Lee Nailon with 14.2 points per game.

The Player

Chris Paul

Given the team had few quality players, Byron Scott threw Chris Paul into the starting lineup right away and hoped that he would have an immediate impact. He did.

While Paul struggled shooting the ball at times he was the team’s most efficient player, finishing with an offensive rating of 114 (the lowest of his career) and being 2nd on the team with 16.1 points per game. He also led the team (surprise, I know) with 38.2% assist percentage.

But defensively is where Paul really made a difference. Early on, Paul showed he was a master thief on defense by averaging 2.2 steals per game–he even had 7 in one game. He was so strong at stealing the ball that the opposing team had their offensive possession end 3.4% of the time in a steal while Paul was on the court. That was good for Paul to finish, as a rookie, at 3rd in the league for steal percentage.

At the end of his first year, Paul earned himself a shiny Rookie of the Year award.

The Impact

The impact of Paul on the Hornets was pretty obvious. The team’s offensive rating increased by 4 points per hundred possession which led to a five place increase in points per game over the previous season. Because of Paul’s assist percentage getting his teammates better looks, the Hornets improved in field goal %, three point %, effective field goal % and free throws per field goal attempted. The team’s pace also jumped up to 21st in the league.

Oh and the Hornets won 38 games, 20 more than the previous season.

Combined with an emerging David West, the Hornets had a solid young core to build around.

Compare and Contrast

The most obvious similarity between then and now is the concept of starting over. A season after each Hornets team traded their best player, Hornets got lucky in the draft. in 2005, Atlanta took Marvin Williams second overall and a few months ago the correct sequence of ping pong balls came up in the Hornets’ favor. Both times the Hornets drafted a franchise cornerstone.

However, with the 2012-12 Hornets’ rebirth, the future is much brighter. In exchange for Chris Paul, the Hornets received a gigantically better package of picks and players than the ’04-05 Hornets got for Baron Davis

The future of the New Orleans basketball franchise–notice I didn’t say Hornets–is also secure.  The Hornets played the 2005-06 season in Oklahoma City due to Hurricane Katrina which fueled speculation that they might be relocated. That’s not the case this time around.

In terms of the team on the court, there aren’t a whole lot of similarities. The ’12-13 Hornets team is far more talented than the ’05-06 team. Pre-CP3, the Hornets played with a slow pace, but that is more due to the offensive ineptitude of that team as opposed to Monty Williams being a defensive coach.

What We Can Learn From Chris and…umm…the Hornets

It’s hard to apply the improvements Paul made to the team and expect similar results for Davis given the vastly different positions they play. But there are some things to take away.

Partiality because he is a point guard and part because he was just that good, Paul improved the offense the moment he stepped on the court. I expect similar results from Davis on the defensive end. If Monty let’s Davis roam around like Calipari did at Kentucky then he will effect on the opponent. One of the best ways would be to play more zone defense.

Davis is long and athletic which allows him to close out quickly on opposing shooters and contest their shots. He might not be able to neutralize the opponents best big man night in/night out but he is not a beanpole either who is unable to defend on the block. This is going to make it hard for opposing teams to take shots basically 16 feet and in. I’d expect similar results, maybe even moreso, to how Paul decreased the Hornets’ defensive rating. Expect Davis to potential come close to Paul’s 2.2 steals average–except with blocks.


Because of Davis’ incredible blocking prowess, you could potentially expect the Hornets pace to pick up slightly. Why? I’m glad you asked! When Davis blocks a shot he often keeps the ball in inbounds and tends to swat it to one of his teammates who then sprints down the court on a fast break. The Hornets struggled in transition last season, but with Davis causing fast breaks off of blocks, the team should improve


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