Game On: Hornets @ Nets

Published: February 9, 2011

Before I get to the game, I want to hammer a point home:  Those of you blaming Monty Williams for the past few losses – you’re wrong.  The reason the Hornets are losing is because of the talent level behind their starters. It’s well documented that the Hornets subs are terrible, and in fact,  Only Aaron Gray, David Anderson and Marcus Thornton are producing at a higher level than replacement – and we’re only talking barely higher.  None of them are producing above average at their positions.

So, essentially, this team has lost its two best defenders and replaced them with two of its worst in Aaron Gray and the inexperienced rookie Quincy Pondexter.(he’s a rookie and he’s not yet savvy or strong enough to be a shut down defeder, sorry)  The result is the Hornets are scoring the same amount per posession they have all season since Gray/Anderson and Pondexter aren’t far from Okafor/Ariza offensively, but the team’s defense has slipped dramatically, falling two spots in the rankings in just over 4 games.

What do you think Monty can do to solve this?  Make Willie Green grow 4 inches?  Make Pavlovic absorb the defensive schemes via a brain link like the one in the Matrix?  Instantly improve Gray and Mbenga’s agility and Andersen’s strength?

It seems many of you simply want Monty Williams to damn the torpedoes and go full speed ahead by playing Marcus Thornton.  Well, Marcus Thornton is scoring 1.065 per shot this season.  Remember that Trevor Ariza guy we ridicule for his awful offense?  He scores 1.097 points per shot.

We can scream “Potential” – I know I have multiple times this season – but that doesn’t change the fact the team actually scores LESS per posession when Marcus is playing this season.  So here’s the reality – Thornton is not likely to help the team score enough to make this team overcome it’s injury-related defensive deficiencies, even given more playing time.  There is no magic bullet.

Rant over, Game time.

Matchup: Hornets(32-21) @ Nets(15-37)

Off Efficiency: Hornets 103.4(18th), Nets 99.6(27th)
Def Efficiency: Hornets 100.0(5th), Nets 106.2(16th)

The Nets are a terrible offensive team due to their offensive struggles.  Surprisingly, they actually have a trio of competent scorers in Morrow, Lopez, and Harris.  Instead their issues derive from high turnover numbers, terrible offensive rebounding, and a slew of roleplayers who can’t shoot to save their lives, but really, really like to shoot.

As always, with the wounded team the Hornets are fielding right now, there is some concern they’ll drop one to a team they shouldn’t lose to.  I have a feeling, however, that after the debacle against Minnesota, that our guys will have enough pride to not less this one to go the same way.


Hornets: Emeka Okafor and Ariza will still be out.
Nets: Jordan Farmer will most likely return from injury tonight.

Positional Analysis

PG: Devin Harris v Chris Paul
Advantage: Hornets
Harris is what makes the Nets at all dangerous.  His shooting hasn’t been good, but he’s still efficient by getting a large number of free throws.  He’s also key to the rest of his team’s offensive attack by breaking down the defense of the opposing team and finding Morrow or Lopez for finishes.  Of course, he’s still no Chris Paul.

SG: Anthony Morrow v Marco Belinelli
Advantage: Nets
Morrow started the season pretty badly, but of late, Harris has picked up his playmaking and Morrow has benefited by drilling a high percentage of his shots over the last month and a half.  His shooting numbers keep climbing, and he’s now scoring 1.318 points per shot.  That’s some efficiency, and it makes up somewhat for the fact he makes Marco Belinelli look like a champion rebounder and he produces in a whole game less assists and steals than Chris Paul does in the first 2 minutes of a game.

SF: Travis Outlaw v Quincy Pondexter
Advantage: Even
Yes, Quincy has not produced anything that great in his time on the floor.  Travis Outlaw, however, has been laying a big turd of a season so far.  1.053 points per shot on terrible shooting percentages and a pair of free throws a game.  No rebounding, blocks, assists, or steals to speak of.  He’s been downright awful.  Pondexter won’t have the defensive challenges this game he had against Beasley in Minnesota.

PF: Derrick Favors v David West
Advantage: Hornets
Favors has the frame to be a solid big, but right now his rebounding and shooting numbers are average, and his turnover rate is abysmal – as you’d expect for a rookie labeled as “raw”.  I expect West to use his veteran savvy to control this contest with little difficulty.

C: Brook Lopez v Aaron Gray
Advantage: Nets
Lopez is an awful, awful rebounder, and if you look at his shooting percentages this season, he’s not that impressive either.  However – though his rebounding numbers haven’t improved, his scoring has dramatically improved over the last month, and he’s been scoring about 22 points on 53% shooting over that span.  He’s getting to the line more, and simply scoring in the post more than he had to start the season.  Some blame his early start on mononucleosis he caught during the summer.  That may be, but for now, I expect him to torch Aaron Gray.

Kris Humphries, Sasha Vujacic, Jordan Farmer, Johan Petro, Ben Uzoh, Quinton Ross vs
Marcus Thornton, Jason Smith, Sasha Pavlovic, Willie Green, Jarret Yack
Advantage: Nets
Humphries is a very strong rebounder and fairly efficient scorer.  His size prevents him from being that great as a defender in the paint, but he’s a good third big on any team.  Sasha Vujacic produces the scoring punch off the bench, though he’s low efficiency, and never gets to the line.  Together, they provide enough oomph off the bench that they surpass what the Hornets have been getting from their bench.  Maybe Andersen and Pavlovic will continue their solid play and even this out, but I’m not yet ready to count on that.

Enjoy the game!


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