Young Pups Volume 6: The Final Run of the Season

Published: April 20, 2012

Our Young Pups have seen a much increased role towards the end of the season. How are they handling it? 

Young Pups are getting wins, like Vasquez

It’s been a while since we’ve done a Young Pups piece, but it only seems fitting to return to it as the season winds down. As veterans sit because of injuries we have seen head coach Monty Williams take closer looks at our litter of Pups.

Al-Farouq Aminu has won a starting job, albeit because of the benching of Trevor Ariza. Xavier Henry is receiving steady minutes despite the return of Eric Gordon. Greivis Vasquez is getting a chance to show what he has against starting point-guards.

While most have raised their hopes for these players, most notably Gordon, we need to remain tempered in our expectations.

These guys are playing well and playing hard, you can’t ask for much more. But their development will be a combination of the last few remaining games as well as the offseason program.

The Return of Eric Gordon

More wins and Operation Tank was put on hold. I am really excited to see the Hornets winning, even though it’s ruined our chances of getting more ping-pong balls. We’re sitting close to Sacramento, too close.

But seeing Gordon take over games has been a welcome sight. He has everyone else playing better too and it created a buzz needed to get some wins.

Joe was confident before this season that this team could be a fringe playoff team. I think he might be right in some ways. Well, okay maybe not, but this team wouldn’t be in the 3rd seed for the lottery, probably closer to the Timberwolves pick.

In his 8 games with the Hornets he has a 21.3 Player Effciency Rating (remember the league average is 15 and having a 21 PER is pretty darn good) and he’s averaging 21 points a night. This is pretty good news considering that he’s still recovering from a knee injury (as well as a new back injury).

Al-Farouq the Nigerian Prince

It’s been a somewhat up and down season for Al-Farouq. He’s trying to find his way in the NBA, trying to carve his niche. His superior length troubles even the best offensive players. He’s shown a remarkable ability to defend one on one, as well as help weak side.

The problem with Aminu has always been confidence and coordination. When he gets a steal you brace for what move he might go with towards the basket. We’ve seen balls fly off shot clocks, the side of the backboard, or even over it. Working on these skills will be paramount this offseason.

Though, criticizing him for doing these things seems absurd and somewhat cruel. His intentions are correct and the effort is clearly there. I don’t want him to think he’s doing the wrong thing because then he’ll just second guess himself all the time.

Stop thinking and do, that’s what he needs to play like. Working on the skills will come this offseason. Let’s hope his effort remains there.

Greivis Vasquez

There have been whispers around the league that Vasquez believes he can be a starting point-guard for an NBA team in the league. His belief was confirmed when he was thrust into the starting lineup for the remainder of the season.

Vasquez’s abilities are sound, he knows how to play his game on the floor and does a good job of finding the right people on the floor.

Before we get to his problems let’s look at what he’s done as the starting point-guard.

Greivis has averaged 12 points, 7 assists on 3 turnovers, 1.2 steals and 2.7 rebounds per game as the starter. He’s shown he can be a very capable starter for a team like the Hornets, but is he really someone you want starting for you as you make a run into the playoffs?

The reason I wouldn’t want him as my starter in the playoffs is his defensive weaknesses. While Vasquez possesses superior court-vision, his poor lateral quickness is no match for the elite point-guards in the league.

That’s not to say he won’t be a vital player for this team moving forward. He’s going to be one of the first guys off the bench, especially if he can continue his excellent three-point shooting (37 percent as starter, 34 percent overall).

His spirit and his tenacity are traits that Monty Williams needs for this group moving forward.

Who To Look Out For

As disappointing as Gustavo Ayon has been the last month or so, I have to say I’m hoping he will finish with a flurry. Last night he proved that going against one of his idols, Luis Scola. Ayon regained the energy that has clearly been lacking as he powered his way close to a double-double as well as a number of key late game assists.

With Ayon we’ve also had time to get a closer look at Xavier Henry. With only a few games left remaining it’s important that Henry shows his value and more importantly some consistency.

There is a possibility that next years roster may be tougher to make for Henry, so he might be making his case for that or a spot in the D-League.

Player Power Rankings

Young Pups Volume 6 Rankings


  1. Pingback: Season in Review: Al-Farouq Aminu | New Orleans Hornets |

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