Hornets Beat: Gordon, Anderson, Davis and Vasquez
Our Hornets writers tackle questions on Anthony Davis and Eric Gordon as potential future All-Stars, the MVP, just how good the Hornets are, and flopping.
1. Who is the Hornets MVP so far?
Jason Calmes: Ryan Anderson. Using the Lambda-Lambda-Lambda side of the force, we see that he leads the team in win shares and TOV% (the good lead), is top 3 in TS%, eFG%, FT%, and 3P% (yes, there is correlation there), and is top 5 in ORB% and DRB%. He’s fourth in usage and second in minutes played, not having missed a game. The Alpha-Beta side tells me that he has been THE item in the bad guys’ scouting reports, but he still gets it done. He draws defenders, and his presence changes the game, especially when he’s on a streak.
Michael McNamara: Greivis Vasquez. So to me, MVP means- By taking this one player away, you effect the team more than you would if you were to take any other player away. That player for me is Vasquez, simply because I have no idea how the Hornets offense would function without him. Combine that with his leadership and infectious attitude, and he gets my nod through the first half of the season.
Mason Ginsberg: Mike nailed it. I think Ryan Anderson has undoubtedly been the team’s best player this season, but not necessarily most valuable. As McNamara noted, without Vasquez running the point along with an injured Eric Gordon, this Hornets team would be an absolute mess on offense. Though this may point to a lack of guard depth more than Greivis truly having an MVP-caliber season, there’s no denying the fact that the drop-off is greater at his position than any other (besides shooting guard, but Gordon can’t qualify due to how few games he has played so far).
Jake Madison: While it’s tempting to go with Anderson, 67.8% of his makes have come from assists–including 90.2% of his made 3’s. Those assists are coming mainly from Vasquez. As Mike and Mason pointed out, this team would have been lost offensively without Vasquez running it. Not only that but he has massively improved his 3-point shooting which makes him effective off the ball as well. He’s my pick for now.
Joe Gerrity: Greivis Vasquez. Ryan Anderson may be playing better overall, but he’s had that thing… what’s it called? Oh yeah, a capable backup. For much of the year it’s been Roberts-Rivers when Greivis left the floor.
2. Which player on the Hornets will make the All-Star Game first?
JC: Eric Gordon if he can play 90% of the games from this ASG to the one in NOLA. If not, Davis. I also think Davis has the only chance to be a starter.
MM: Anthony Davis will make the All-Star game next year and every season after that for the next 10-12 years. Look, Eric Gordon is the better player right now, but when you combine how many great guards there are out West with his tendency to miss games, I still think it will be hard for him to get in while Kobe is still around. But now that there are three frontcourt positions on the ballot and no real demand for a true center, I think Davis will be right there with Blake and Kevin Love every February starting next season in New Orleans.
MG: Davis. I think that either Smith or Lopez gets moved this off-season to account for the uptick in minutes Davis will see next season, because both Smith and Lopez are talented enough to get more minutes than there’s room for on this Hornets team. The result will be per-game numbers for Davis that catch more people’s eyes, which will get him into the all-star game as soon as next season when coupled with the reputation he brought with him to the NBA.
JM: You need to also factor in that fan voting is a big part of getting an All-Star nod. Gordon might be incredibly talented, but his injuries have hurt his profile nationally. On the other hand Davis is an NBA household name from his time at Kentucky, being the number 1 pick and the Olympics. That will help tremendously.
Joe: Trick question– it’s a tie. Gordon will stay healthy enough to make the squad next season and AD will get introduced as well in front of the hometown crowd.
3. How many teams in the Western Conference would you expect the Hornets to beat tomorrow night on a neutral site?
JC: That’d be a back-to-back, so no Gordon. 5. Suns, Kings, Mavericks (I hate Dallas), the injured Timberwolves, and the old-and-busted team from Los Angeles that’s paying way too much for sizzle and way too little steak. The Clippers? Oh, no. The Lakers. All the other teams have a better than 50% chance of beating the second-game-of-a-back-to-back-Hornets squad.
MM: If fully healthy? Eleven. Yes, 11. I would expect Oklahoma City, San Antonio, and the Clippers to handle us but I would honestly bet on the Hornets against the other 11 teams if you said everything else was a wash- neutral site, same amount of rest for both teams, etc.
MG: I’ll say five – the Kings, Suns, Mavericks, Timberwolves (without Love), and Trail Blazers. I think the Thunder, Clippers, Spurs, Grizzlies, Nuggets, and Warriors are all easy picks over the Hornets. The Jazz, Rockets, and Lakers would be close to 50/50, but I think those teams are all slightly better right now.
JM: I would expect wins over the Kings, Mavs, Suns and Timberwolves. I wouldn’t be shocked if they beat the Lakers, Rockets and Jazz, but I wouldn’t expect it.
Joe: Four. We’d beat the Suns, Kings, Mavs, and Wolves. Objectively I’d call everyone else the favorite, as much as the fan in me wants to believe otherwise.
4. How has the performance of Anthony Davis compared to your expectations heading into the season?
JC: Exceeding expectations, though I’m a little worried. He’s had some odd drops in some performance categories, and it makes me think that he’s nursing something . . . maybe the foot thing. Still, even with reduced performance getting to and making baskets from the line and reduced minutes, he’s exceeding expectations.
MM: Honestly, I am a little disappointed so far. I expected him to have great nights (which he has) and I expected him to struggle at times (which he has), but I didn’t expect him to ever play with a lack of energy and he has had games where he just seemed lethargic. I think Monty has put him on a minutes count lately to combat that, but I don’t understand why a 19 year-old would ever just play casually, and Davis has done that for large stretches in games this season.
MG: Exceeded offensively, failed to live up defensively. Over the course of the season, he has scored with an efficiency that I did not expect to see so soon. On the defensive end, while he has had his fair share of impressive blocks (like Saturday night, for example), he hasn’t quite grasped how to play within the team concept at an NBA level yet. It will come, but I was expecting to see him put it together on D a little more quickly.
JM: Offensively it’s about what I expected. We knew there’d be a ton of lobs and we know he has some range on his jump shot. If anything I’ve been most impressed by his ability to know when to cut baseline for an easy catch and shoot.. Defensively, I’m slightly disappointed. He certainly has his moments like the block on Jack the other night, but at times he seems lost out there. He’s constantly allowing back door cutters and giving up easy baskets as a result.
Joe: Offensively he’s a bit better than I anticipated, largely because he’s played so well within his limitations instead of trying to be “the man”. Defensively he’s been a step behind on his rotations and seemingly out of sync with the rest of the unit a bit too often. It’s not a real concern for me yet though, since this team has been pretty terrible on defense in general. If he was on a better defensive team, I get the feeling he would be playing better on that end of the floor.
5. Do you think that the new NBA flopping rules have had a noticeable effect on gameplay this season?
JC: No. I find myself still questioning as many calls and see as many histrionics as before. Last season there were about 22.5 free throw attempts per game on average. This season the number is about the same (actually slightly higher). I think it’s reduced the ones-twosy Oscar attempts out there, such as the Reggie Evans attempt to saddle a Fingerpoke of Doom on Greivis Vasquez. You can debate the Oscar worthiness (though they had that trash out to anyone it seems . . . no winners in some categories in some years would help), but the officiating crew, for a while, thought it was Flagrant 2 worthy when there was actually very little contact, much less anything excessive.
MM: It seems to have corrected the defensive flopping, but guys still overexaggerate contact on the offensive end, and to Jason’s point, that is why the free throw attempts are even higher. Look, this is the hardest game in the world to officiate, I get that, but there has to be more consistency in what is a foul and what is not. I think this flopping rule has helped on one side of the court, but I still would like to see more clarity come out from the NBA front office on what is a charge and what is a block. That is the call that infuriates me because there is no consistency.
MG: In the heat of the moment, players aren’t thinking “I better not do this or I’ll get fined”; they’re thinking about how they can help their team win the game. Once you start talking about suspensions, that may change, but I haven’t seen much of a difference to this point.
JM: I like the idea of the rules but it’s still incredibly hard to enforce and eliminate from the game. Also, I watch a lot of soccer so I’m just used to flopping in sports and just don’t pay attention anymore.
Joe: Yes. From what I’ve seen the acting has decreased a bit. Maybe I’ve just been paying less attention to Chris Paul and the rest of the Clippers…