Hornets Beat: Austin Rivers, Anthony Davis, and Future Free Agents

Our writers discuss the playing time of Anthony Davis, the ideal location for Austin Rivers, the Lakers, free agents, and Brian Roberts.

1. Do you agree with how Monty is handling the playing time of Anthony Davis?

Michael McNamara: Short answer- No. I understand Monty’s reasoning and Davis does look better when he only has to play in short spurts, but I would prefer that Davis runs directly into that rookie wall and learns how to deal with the grind of an NBA season this year. If the goal is the playoffs next year, he will have to play 34-38 MPG, so why not get him into NBA shape in a year where there is nothing to lose?

Andrew Smith: No, but I have a bigger issue when Greivis and Gordon both on the bench in the 2nd half while Rivers and Roberts are struggling to get the ball up court. I don’t like how Anthony has recently been managed either. In each of the last four losses I’ve found myself wondering where our number one pick is and why he is playing so little in the 2nd half. When we are down, but still in the game, I wish Monty would just stick with whatever works (normally a Davis lineup) instead of trying to give the entire team their minutes.

Mason Ginsberg: I’m indifferent, to be honest. There’s another school of thought here – the Hornets have four above average big men who, based on their production thus far this season, all deserve more playing time than they’re getting. When looking long-term, the smart move is to trade one of the two who aren’t franchise cornerstones – Lopez or Smith – for help in other areas. If Davis has to see a couple less minutes per game in his rookie season in order to boost the trade value of others, then I’m okay with it. Besides, there could be a reason of which we are all unaware.

Jason Calmes: Yes. Davis was playing horribly in long minutes after returning to play in December. He has done better in limited minutes. He played longer minutes in the last two games. Plus, he came back quickly from his stress reaction. Being limited in those initial weeks makes sense.

Joe: Not particularly, but it’s understandable. While it’d be nice to get some more wins– and Davis does seem to be part of a winning equation–I would prefer he gets quality minutes that he genuinely can learn from than simply throwing him out there for 40 a night and seeing what sticks.

2. Does Austin Rivers need to head to the D-League?

MM: No. He is better served getting instruction day in and day out from someone that is tied to his success, than from one who has no incentive to care whether Rivers makes it or not. And this idea that Rivers will get his confidence back if he lights up a glorified pick-up league does not fly with me either.

AS: No. I think if we send him to the D-League and he performs well against lesser talent, people will expect him to put up the same numbers that he would against the Red Claws on the 76ers, which we all know won’t happen. On the other hand if he still plays poorly against D-League talent, then it’s just a negative. He’s better off just going to NBA practices.

MG: If Monty is going to continue to use Rivers as the team’s backup shooting guard instead of its backup point guard, then yes. That being said, future would be best served by staying with the Hornets and playing the point guard position for the second unit. If Rivers is going to stick in the NBA, it’s going to be as a PG, so why keep playing him off the ball where he can’t effectively utilize the few NBA-ready skills that he possesses?

JC: No. He needs to be around the team to learn to play. The D-League can get him minutes to hone skills when he gets them. To get them, he needs to around this team and this staff. His improved defense is exhibit A.

Joe: No, but only because the Hornets don’t have a dedicated D-League program. In an ideal situation Rivers would be on the Louisiana Krewe, working with his own coach, and playing in a system similar to that of the Hornets, alongside guys like Darius Miller. Until that happens (at one point it was in the plans) he’s better off in the NBA.

3. What are your general thoughts on Brian Roberts after half a season?

MM: I wish the Hornets would have never signed him. He is a nice guy and all, but every time he dribbles for 20 seconds and hoists up a jumper, he is taking a needed rep away from Austin Rivers or failing to get Anderson or Smith the looks they deserve in the second unit. In a season full of frustration, he has been the most frustrating thing about this team.

AS: Still better than my Summer League expectations, but that wasn’t much to begin with. With that being said, Roberts should not be allowed in the game if he’s not accompanied by Greivis or Gordon to take the ball up the court. Roberts just gets too shot heavy at times.. My biggest issue with him is that Brian Roberts P&R vision consist of the roll man & Brian Roberts but if Roberts can’t find his shot don’t worry, he will find someone else’s shot to shoot. Overall he’s better than what I thought but still not very good.

MG: Roberts is a suitable backup point guard for a non-contender that needs scoring help off the bench. His PER is indicative of this description (40th ranked PG in PER at 14.4), and despite his struggles as a “floor general”, his turnover rate of just 8.5% (4th in the NBA among PGs, right behind Chris Paul at 8.4%) can’t be ignored. I would prefer to see Rivers receiving the bulk of the minutes at backup PG with the future in mind (playing Roberts off the ball with Rivers would better suit his skill set), but otherwise I think he has performed adequately this season.

JC: Well worth his contract. He’s not a great fit, but he can produce. Choices about when and how to use him are another matter.

Joe: Thrilled. He’s exceeded my expectations and provided the Hornets a legitimate backup guard for much of the season. Don’t be mistaken– he’s not a long term solution, but as a stopgap he’s been a delight. It doesn’t hurt his case that the alternative has been Austin Rivers…

4. Which of the players in Michael’s article, The Missing Piece: Waiting for 2014, would you prefer if offered on a silver platter on a fair contract?

MM: Uh, Paul George of course. Look, I know it is highly unlikely, but he is the exact type of player the Hornets need on both ends of the court. He has the ability to shut down perimeter scorers and he can score in a multitude of ways offensively. As for more realistic options, I am still a huge fan of Kyle Lowry’s defensive intensity and well-rounded offensive game. A perfect young vet for this team.

AS: Paul George, but since I think that is just not going to happen, I’m going to go with the guy I’ve been raving about on twitter– Eric Bledsoe. As we all know Bledsoe is an amazing on-ball defender, but just a flat out bad shooter. What I’d hope for is somehow convincing Greivis Vasquez to stay, giving us a well-rounded back court capable of playing small-ball. I think it would be tough to keep Greivis if we land Bledsoe, but not impossible.

MG: Like the two before me have said, George would be a huge get for the Hornets, but also highly unlikely. Bledsoe would be the guy I would target; he has shown his playmaking skills on offense this season, and pairing him with Gordon would make for an impressive defensive back court as well.

JC: Lowry. His fair deal will be much lower than the others, leaving more room other things. Lowry is what we need in a point. Lock it up, then go compete for a SF.

Joe: I’m with Jason. I’ve long been a Lowry fan and he’s gettable for the most affordable price of the bunch, as well as being a great fit next to Eric Gordon. I’d love to have George also, but I’d prefer to underpay for a sweet defensive PG than pay the max for maybe the fourth best small forward in the league.

5. Fact or Fiction: The Lakers will make the playoffs

MM: Fact, unfortunately. The Jazz will likely fade down the stretch after they trade one of their veteran big men, and the Blazers are always an injury away from a long losing streak because of their lack of depth. I think 43 wins gets the final spot in the West this year, and the Lakers will just squeeze in, resulting in a first round playoff matchup with San Antonio or OKC, which will be fascinating.

AS: Fact, and I hope I’m wrong because I’m a horrible person that likes to see the Lakers and Jake Madison struggle. After looking at the schedules for the Lakers, Blazers and Jazz I see the Lakers winning 22 more games by the end of the regular season, leaving them with 44, Portland getting knocked back and winning just 34, and Utah at 39. Sadly that’s just enough for the Lakers to sneak in.

MG: Fiction, and in the best way possible; they’ll end the season tied with Utah, but the Jazz’s 2-1 record against the Lakers will give Utah the final playoff spot. Right now, Hollinger’s playoff odds project this exact scenario, with both teams finishing tied for the 8th seed at 41-41. Fingers crossed!

JC: Fiction. They have to go 19-15 to get to 0.500. They have a if they go 10-6 at home (better than they have done to date), they’ll have to go 9-9 on the road, and they are performing far worse than this to date. How about that choice by Dwight, eh?

Joe: Fact. Too much talent, too much experience. Missing the postseason does not compute.

6 responses to “Hornets Beat: Austin Rivers, Anthony Davis, and Future Free Agents”

  1. I think you guys missed a chance to frame a more meaningful question about Austin Rivers. (When everyone has the same basic response, that is a sign the question wasn’t informative.) I would suggest what is the percentage chance Austin Rivers NBA prospects after 2.5 years in the NBA will look like Xavier Henry’s prospects after 2.5 years in the NBA? Or what level of player do you see Austin Rivers being in two years: quality starter, starter, quality 2nd teamer, 2nd teamer, reserve?

    • The Rivers/Henry comp is one that I’ve pondered for a while. Rivers has the superior ball-handling and court vision, but Henry brings much more athleticism and a better NBA body. Apart from that, their styles of play are fairly similar, and their rookie seasons have been remarkably similar so far. Henry shot better and turned the ball over much less in his rookie year, but Rivers has been a better passer.

    • The Hornets are giving up a lot to get a guy with 1.5 years left on his rookie contract (Bledsoe) and a guy who has played 3 NBA minutes so far in his career (Melo). I suspect they can get Bledsoe for cheaper after the 2012-13 season.

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