Scouting the NBA: Week Three — Wrong Predictions, New Orleans Hornets Looking Good

Published: November 13, 2012

After losing Anthony Davis and Austin Rivers to injury the New Orleans Hornets put up their worst offensive performance in franchise history. Let’s look at how we can put that behind us this week.

Wednesday 14th @ Houston Rockets — Fox Sports New Orleans, 7pm CST

Between the Charlotte Bobcats game and this one the Hornets would have had four days in between to rest, train and practice. That’s a significant period in an NBA season and it’s the longest break they’ll get till the 23rd of December when they’ll have 3 days off (from the 23rd till 25th — Christmas mates!)

Hopefully Williams has stressed a few things in film to the players, especially the guards, who have an extremely difficult matchup in this game. James Harden and Jeremy Lin are, like the boys on the Podcast said, attacking guards. We all saw what an above-average guard will do to this team (See Ben Gordon explosion).

  • Player of Interest for the Hornets: James Harden

As easy as it is for me to put Harden as the guy the Hornets should target there really isn’t anyone else the Hornets need right now. Houston has very excellent depth at the front-court and not much depth in the back-court. The Hornets NEED back-court players and while Jeremy Lin is an over-hyped, yet still talented point-guard, James Harden would be an upgrade.

These “players of interest” really should be guys we can actually get, but I don’t see anyone on their roster which fills an immediate need. I’d love to have Patrick Patterson, but we already have power-fowards.

Consider an Eric Gordon for James Harden swap for your dreams.

  • Best Matchup for Rockets: Jeremy Lin/James Harden vs. Greivis Vasquez/Austin Rivers

Last week we had a lovely commenter, Nasim Aguin, post a statistical analysis as to why Greivis Vasquez is a great point-guard. His argument is based on a coefficient which isn’t wrong. My issue with it is sample size and the fact that it’s the start of the NBA season.

When teams start to figure out that trapping Vasquez is the most effective means of limiting him he’ll start to turn the ball over and half-court sets will be even more staggered and dysfunctional  He seems pretty good at running the break but he can’t break down a pick-and-roll without looking like a turtle running to beat the hare. While the Rabbit loses it’s not the case here.

The Rockets have a clear advantage both on offense and defense in the backcourt. They should thoroughly dominate. As I said last week, Ben Gordon was in for a big game (go on, have a look) and he did.

Yes I’m tooting my own horn, but come on guys we all have an ego to pander to.

Expect a big night from Lin and/or Harden.

  • Best Matchup for the Hornets: Monty Williams vs. Kelvin Sampson

Unfortunately Kevin McHale has had to take a leave of absence to deal with a family issue which we all hope can be resolved. Our thoughts are with you Coach.

On the court however, Coach Williams has the upper hand with strategy and matchups. Monty needs to exploit the inexperience of Sampson. Now Sampson isn’t really inexperienced. He’s coached through college with varying degrees of success and has been in the NBA previously with the Milwaukee Bucks. But being a leader of an NBA basketball team and managing players in the heat of the moment is tough.

I hope Monty can look at ways to use Ryan Anderson, Jason Smith and Anthony Davis to his advantage and utilize their skill-sets in ways to limit Harden and Lin trying to drive to the cup.

  • Prediction: Rockets by 10

As optimistic as I was last week, this first game of the week concerns me. I can see Patrick Patterson and Terrence Jones limiting Davis and Anderson and I can see Harden and Lin cutting up our back-court.

We’re on the road and while we did beat Chicago I think we suffer our first road defeat.

Friday 16th vs. Oklahoma City Thunder — Fox Sports New Orleans, 7pm CST

Okay, so the game is on TV, but for the love of the almighty spaghetti monster would people please go to the game? Yes it’s Saints season and they’re rallying to make the playoffs, but tickets are DIRT cheap and it’s a Friday night.

Go to the game at 7pm, then go out for some late night drinks afterwards. I’ve really been quite embarrassed by the attendance so far this season and while Jason offers up the reasons (or excuses as I like to put it) I still don’t understand how people can get so offended when people say we can’t support an NBA franchise. We can, but these are the reasons why people criticize us. Let’s step it up! We’re 3-2! (Or 3-3 according to my predictions…)

Anyway, the Thunder should thoroughly man-handle us… or will they?

  • Player of Interest for the Hornets: Eric Maynor

Going a little bit more legitimate here but I really would love Maynor on this team even though he’s only seen limited NBA minutes in his brief career. A quick guard who’s been in a winning system.

We can’t get Durant, nor can we get Westbrook. But adding depth in a weak back-court never hurt right?

  • Best Matchup for the Thunder: Russell Westbrook vs. Greivis Vasquez/Brian Roberts

I’m sorry guys for picking on Vasquez, but I’m looking at this from a coaches perspective and while I’d love to put down Aminu, I feel like he can at least limit Durant. Russell Westbrook is salivating at this matchup. If he doesn’t score 25 points I’ll be amazed.

Coach Scott Brooks should say the words, “ATTACK. ATTACK. ATTACK,” to Westbrook. This goes for both sides of the game.

Look everyone I know Vasquez does a very good job of finding his team-mates. He really is an excellent passer. The thing is with a league as point-guard deep as this he’s going to have a tough task every single night.

  • Best Matchup for the Hornets: Austin Rivers vs. Kevin Martin

Alrighty guys and gals let me explain this one. When looking for best matchup I want to find one that you might not think is in our favor. Ibaka can take care of Davis and Ryan Anderson (though he should have a tougher time against Anderson), but I’m giving this one to the other rookie for no other reason than I want to.

Rivers has Kevin Martin, one of the worst shooting-guard defenders in the league. If ever there was a time for Austin to break out it’s this game. I really hope the kid can get his shot to fall and run Martin all over the place. While Rivers might have issues covering Martin himself I think, or I want to think, he can handle the former Rocket guard.

  • Prediction: Thunder by 7

I think the Hornets matchup well with the Thunder outside of the PG spot. Aminu can cover Durant, Davis and Ibaka will go toe-to-toe and Perkins and Lopez/Smith virtually cancel each other out. The Thunder are just a better team all-around and have experience. I expect them to win this comfortably.

Saturday 17th @ Milwaukee Bucks — Fox Sports New Orleans, 7.30pm CST

The Bucks are off to a nice start this season and are trying to push for the playoffs. After losing Andrew Bogut and gaining Monta Ellis last season Milwaukee has transitioned from a low-post team to a more up tempo team (they’re 3rd in the league in pace while the Hornets are last).

This is another back-to-back and while I haven’t painted a very bright picture for the upcoming week I do see New Orleans matching up well in this one.

  • Player of Interest for Hornets: Brandon Jennings

This is probably the most obvious player of interest for the entire Scouting the NBA series so far. The Hornets will no doubt express interest in Jennings this upcoming offseason. Brandon will become a restricted free-agent this summer and will command a maximum salary because of the weakened free-agent supply of talent and massive demand.

A lot of teams will have cap room this summer so it will be interesting to see how New Orleans plays it in respect to Jennings. The Hornets still probably need small-forward help, but they desperately need point-guard help too. Management will have to ask themselves if Rivers can be the guy. Because if he can’t then there’s a dilemma.

Let’s assume the best and Eric Gordon returns from injury, plays the rest of the season and is a really good player, pushing for All-Star consideration. The Hornets will still have to answer the question of where to find their future starting point-guard and future starting small-forward.

If the Hornets go after Jennings and actually get him (don’t really see that happening) then we’ll have to plug a hole at SF with Aminu and hopefully some kind of wing-shooter/defender (Darius Miller?)

  • Best Matchup for the Bucks: Monta Ellis vs. Austin Rivers

Coming off a good night against the Thunder (…) Rivers will have to face Ellis, another weak defensive guard. While Rivers might have some success against Ellis he’s going to struggle on the other end. Ellis is back in form and Austin is going to have to work through screens which he’s having more and more problems with.

  • Best Matchup for the Hornets: Anthony Davis vs. Ersan Ilyasova

I’m a fool for drafting Ersan Ilyasova this year in my fantasy league. He’s done absolutely NOTHING this season and is the classic case of an NBA player having a breakout year, getting a massive contract then regressing to a norm that makes you wonder how he commanded big dollars in the first place.

Anthony Davis is going to destroy Ilyasova on both ends and I expect a massive night. Fantasy owners start the Unibrow in this game.

N.B. Ilyasova has gone from a 20 PER [[Great]] to a 5 PER [[Incompetent — Mason doesn’t have a category for this…]], his TS% is down from .577 [[ Good/Elite]] to .363 [[Horrifically Woeful]] and his rebounding % went from 17% [[Good]] to 12% [[Bad]]). — Check out Mason’s piece for reference.

  • Prediction: Hornets win by 5

In a tough and highly contested game the Hornets win away for the second time this season on a back-to-back. I like the Hornets advantages in the front-court more than I’m afraid of the Bucks advantage in the back-court.

It’s a simple recipe this season for the Hornets, they are good in the front-court and average to poor in the back-court (until or if Eric Gordon returns).

Motif of the Week

mo·tif/mōˈtēf/ Noun: A distinctive feature or dominant idea in an artistic or literary composition.

— Health —

An apple a day…

The week that will be should focus on health. Confucius says that, “anxious thoughts and apprehensions are injurious to the health of the body.” This reflects in both Eric Gordon and Austin Rivers starts to the season.

EJ is yet to play this year and Rivers has been struggling mightily. Put these apprehensions and fears aside and become healthy Hornets.

Final Sentence: Take care of the Aminu’s and the Unibrows will take care of themselves. 


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