Scouting the NBA: Week One — New Orleans Hornets Start Regular Season
In the first edition of Scouting the NBA we take a look at the upcoming week for the Hornets and who their opponents are.
Wednesday 31st vs. San Antonio Spurs — Fox Sports New Orleans, 7pm CDT, Nationally Televised
The San Antonio Spurs will be the home and season opener for the Hornets on a Halloween night sure to scare everyone. I want to see everyone in their best costumes in a festivity not celebrated much at all in Australia.
This game will also be the debut for both Anthony Davis and maybe Austin Rivers. Davis takes on one of his pre-draft comparisons, the soft-spoken Tim Duncan. While we do not know where Davis will end up placing himself in NBA history we do know this game is going to be very fun to watch.
The Spurs are still a very dangerous team. We spoke briefly of what they did in the offseason as well as their prognosis for the upcoming season. Bringing back dynamic guard Patrick Mills is an underrated move and re-signing Duncan a healthy sign of stability.
Best Matchup for Spurs: Tony Parker vs. Greivis Vasquez
Fantasy owners need to start Mr. France in this game for sure. Parker’s superior speed can and will crush Vasquez. Even if Greivis is resistant expect a heavy dose of Pick-and-Roll sets to get Parker going offensively.
It should be interesting to see if rookie, Anthony Davis can slow down any layup attempts. But even as Davis has noted NBA players are a lot more crafty at getting shot-attempts at the basket.
Player of Interest for the Hornets: Patrick Mills
I’m bias, I know, calm down. But if you were to ask me, who would you prefer as a backup PG, Mills or Vasquez… every single time I’m taking Mills. His contract is better than Greivis’ and while he’s not as big as Vasquez he’s INFINITELY quicker than he is.
Best Matchup for Hornets: Eric Gordon vs.
Manu Ginobili/Gary Neal
What can be said about Tony Parker can be said about Eric Gordon. While EJ has been injured for the entire preseason, word is it was precautionary.
Gordon will be able to take advantage of the much slower and older Manu. While Ginobili swats away the Halloween bats, he’ll have a much tougher task of guarding Eric Gordon.
UPDATE: Manu Ginobili will not make the trip to New Orleans — Serious Advantage to Gordon.
Much of the preseason hype has been focused on Anthony Davis, however no one should sleep on Gordon. For a guy who’s been labelled as injury prone, this can be a breakout season for the 5th year pro.
Gordon can break out this year and become a leader, which is what we expect him to do against the Spurs.
Spurs win by 2 Hornets by 2
Updated this pre-game, I originally had the Spurs by 2, but changed it to Hornets by 2. With Ginobili out I think the Hornets can actually get this one!
However the Spurs are healthy (they are not…) and have the best coach in the league in Gregg Popovich. Maybe he might play Hack-an-Aminu?
Friday 2nd vs. Utah Jazz — Fox Sports New Orleans, 7pm CDT
The Hornets will have a day in between to get ready for the Utah Jazz. We haven’t talked at all about Utah this year and one could say they’re one of the under-the-radar teams in the league.
They’ve formed a nice clique in the front-court with Enes Kanter, Derrick Favors, Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap. That is the worrying factor for them and the teams they play.
For the Jazz, how long can they hold on to these guys? Michael and Ryan talked extensively about this on the podcast and if form holds true they’ll have to trade or let go one of them. Lick your chops Hornets fans (I want Paul Millsap please, though wouldn’t mind a serving of Enes Kanter… Chiba Ice Cream will do though).
For the short-term though the Jazz will be formidable. While Michael’s assessment of Kanter is overly ambitious the team’s depth is scary good. New Orleans will have to contain the front-line by limiting their fouls.
Expect post ups and pick-and-rolls for Millsap.
Player of Interest for the Hornets: Enes Kanter
If there’s one guy I want on this team for the long-term it’s Enes Kanter. Paul Millsap was a close second, but if Kanter can develop his low-post game which he’s shown flashes of I think he’d pair very well with Anthony Davis. While Davis doesn’t appear to have a post-game this early in his career the Hornets would probably throw the Turkish Delight down on the low-block. I’d love to see him in a Hornets uniform.
Best Matchup for Jazz: Derrick Favors & Al Jefferson vs. Robin Lopez & Jason Smith
Listen, I love me some J-Smitty, but no matter how good he is, Favors and Jefferson outmatch both he and Lopez. The Hornets brought in Lopez to defend skilled, low-post players like Jefferson. However, Jefferson can stick it from mid-range and is more agile than Lopez will ever be. If Favors can progress his pick and roll game then both Lopez and Smith are going to be running hard back to cover a cutting Favors. Jazz look good here.
Best Matchup for Hornets: Eric Gordon vs. Gordon Hayward
Gordon on Gordon, the matchup is on. This is a bit of a cop-out, but don’t expect the Hornets to matchup well with too many other teams. I actually don’t think Hayward will defend Gordon for much of the match. Marvin Williams but more likely Randy Foye will try to contain EJ. I think Eric can win this, if he can stay healthy. (I know, only two games in and we’re concerned with his health).
Prediction: Jazz by 3
I really think that this one is a very close game, but the team who stole New Orleans’ name shall prevail. In spite of thievery I see the Jazz winning because they are the more talented team right now. They should have better chemistry, but that could be a sham.
Saturday 3rd @ Chicago Bulls — Fox Sports New Orleans, 7pm CDT
The Hornets will have their first back-to-back of the season as they head to Chicago for a Saturday night fixture sans Derrick Rose. The Bulls also lost several key contributers to their team in Kyle Korver and Omer Asik. They tried to replace it with Marco Belinelli and Nazr Mohammed.
Okay, so who am I to rag on a franchise infinitely more successful than the one I follow? Truth be told the Bulls got worse this off-season and that’s not factoring the Derrick Rose injury.
Moving into the future the Bulls could be competitive. This will depend on who they pair with Derrick Rose and how he will recover personally. We all saw the loss in athleticism to Chris Paul after his knee injury. The reason it’s more worrying for Rose is that he relies on athleticism more than Paul, where he uses his craftiness.
Player of Interest for the Hornets: Taj Gibson
I looked all over the Bulls roster and while Derrick Rose would be AMAZING on the Hornets, that would be unrealistic (or would it? I mean, if Rose ever hit free-agency in five years time would he consider playing with fellow Chicagoan Anthony Davis?)
Taj Gibson would be a nice addition to the Hornets, but it would mean that there’d be a cluster of power-forwards. Asking Gibson to play small-forward would be a bit of a dream. I do think, if at a reasonable price, Taj would be a very nice player on the Hornets. A good defender who plays tough.
Best Matchup for Bulls: Luol Deng vs. Al-Farouq Aminu/Darius Miller
If Luol Deng doesn’t put up 25 points on Saturday consider it a poor game. While I am a stronger advocate for Aminu’s defense than other writers I still expect Deng to dominate the matchup. On the other side of the court Deng is still a good defender and when facing against Aminu or Miller it makes him a great one.
Expect a lot of sets to be run through Deng to take advantage of this matchup. Monty will have to gameplan accordingly.
Best Matchup for Hornets: Greivis Vasquez vs. Kirk Hinrich
“OH. MY. GOODNESS” you say… “HOW IS VASQUEZ FAVORED IN ANY MATCHUP?”
I’ll tell you why good sir/ma’am, non-athletic point-guard with decent offensive skills meets his counter-part. If ever a time Vasquez has an advantage, this is the game. While it’s not a blowout it’s still something.
The Hornets need to run pick-and-rolls here that get Vasquez involved. Don’t lean away from Eric Gordon, but certainly look for Vasquez a bit more because he could have a nice game.
If he doesn’t turn the ball over…
Prediction: Hornets by 7
Come on now, you didn’t think I was a complete pessimist (my Twitter feed might suggest otherwise)? Yes, I see the Hornets winning and by a nice margin. Sure it’s a back-to-back, but the Hornets get their second win against the Bulls by having a superior back-court on the night that gets the big-men involved.
I am a brave Nostradamus.
Motif of the Week
mo·tif/mōˈtēf/ Noun: A distinctive feature or dominant idea in an artistic or literary composition.
— Hazing —
Even though you might think this motif represents the embarrassment and humiliation of rookies, I mean it in kind of a different way.
I believe that Austin Rivers, Darius Miller and Anthony Davis will have kind of an initiation into the league this first week. The hazing will be on the court more than off from their colleagues around the league.
They have a lot to learn and expect the veterans to go after these guys to prove that this is a mans league not a boys one (calm down feminists… we love the WNBA!)
This should be an exciting time for Hornets fans but the hazing will begin.
Final Sentence: Let this begin.
When was the last time the Hornets won the second game of a back-to-back when the second game was on the road (not including playing a crap team like the Bobcats)?
Can't wait to see the new look Hornets play together. Of course, like everyone, I am anxious to see Anthony Davis in action. here's to an fun and exciting regular season.
Nice preview! I'm not sure I'm as optimistic about the opener to predict a Hornets win. Like you mentioned in the jazz preview, chemistry is big and there's a lot of that in the core of the Spurs. Even if Gordon was just out as a precaution he hasn't really had a chance to play with the bulk of this team. Here's to hoping I'm wrong. Either way should be a fun game. I'm on my way down to New Orleans today, can't wait for tip off tomorrow!!!