Hornets Beat: Feelings Edition

With over a quarter of the New Orleans Hornets season gone, our writers dig deep and come out with some feelings.

We’re joined by the magnificent Ryan Weisert, who writes for the ESPN TrueHoop affiliate Valley of the Suns.


1. What in Hornetsland is making you happy this holiday season?

Michael McNamara: The rapid improvement we have seen from Austin Rivers. We all knew the learning curve would be steep, but similar to what he did at Duke, Rivers has learned from his early season struggles and put in the work it takes to succeed in this league. No reason to think he doesn’t continue to improve over the course of the season before taking an even bigger leap when he has all summer to work on his game.

Jason Calmes: The Hornets have continued their resistance to accept long-term baggage to get better now. I’m just fine using these minutes in these games that do not lead to favorable playoff seeding to develop our talent, like Austin Rivers, that need the time dearly.

Chris Trew: The fact that there is still a professional basketball team here isn’t lost on me. We’re lucky to have the NBA in New Orleans and I’m thankful to all the fans who come out to support the team.

Joe Gerrity: Eric Gordon coming back is nice to see, as is the reality that we’re almost just like everyone else– an owner, a permanent franchise name and location, and real basketball players!

Ryan Weisert: Let’s not forget the Hornets have an outstanding rookie named Anthony Davis who might be the face (or the unibrow on the face) of the franchise for years to come. When healthy, Davis has been extremely productive this season. He is currently 12th overall in PER despite struggling to stay on the court. If he can put the injuries behind him and produce consistently, Davis may well live up to the #1 pick hype. He still has a great deal of room for improvement, but that may be the most exciting fact of all. This kid has incredibly potential.

2. What in Hornetsland is disappointing you most? MM: The lack of growth from Al-Farouq Aminu. I came into this season hoping that he could develop one consistent offensive skill and reduce his turnovers and he has not done either. The hope was that he could become an average starter that could thrive if surrounded by complimentary pieces, but I am not even sure if he could be an above average bench player in this league, let alone a starter. JC: The Eric Gordon drama. I’m not as upset with Eric at this point or his injury nearly as much as the drama cloud that dims the enjoyment of every game. This was supposed to be `our season’, the season the fans here had earned. Instead of just kicking back and worrying about the game in front of us without a care for the playoffs, the draft, etc., we’re back to looking toward the draft and wondering if a star wants to play here or not, or if his injury will cripple the Hornets for the first 4 years of Anthony Davis’ career. CT: I want to see more support from New Orleanians. I hate (really, really) hate putting negativity out in the universe but we’ve got to do it - more people need to be at these games. Win or lose, the Hornets/Pelicans are ours and we need show the support. Got a friend who hasn’t been to the hive yet? Bring them. Not sure what to bring to the secret santa office party? Buy a pair of basketball tickets. Joe: The lack of understanding and support from much of the fan base. It infuriates me to see threads like this and this trashing players largely because their team is losing games while playing with half the payroll, experience and talent of their opposition. Ryan: The Hornets’ record in close games. New Orleans has lost six games by four points or less and 10 games by eight points or less. It’s to be expected for a team this young to have issues in close games, but it doesn’t make these results any easier to accept. Wins are going to be hard to come by this season, and New Orleans has to take advantage of every opportunity. 3. Which Hornets guard would you most trust with the ball with 10 seconds left, down 1. MM: Does Anthony Davis count? He used to be a guard in high school. Man, this is a tough one because this back court is so flawed. By default, it has to be Vasquez, who has the ability to get his own shot against smaller defenders. JC: If I need instant results, I look to Brian Roberts. He’ll shoot the ball readily and with accuracy, and he still distributes the ball at a decent rate, AST% of 29.9% (top 30 before the Portland game among players with at least 100m). This may not be equal to Vasquez’ second best in the NBA (with 46.0% behind Rondo’s 56.8%), but it shows skill. CT: At this point, why not get Austin Rivers as much experience as we can? He’s not who I trust the most but I’d love to see the kid getting more opportunities. If my life was on the line, I’d have to go with...wait, why is my life on the line? This is going to end terribly. Joe: I can’t believe I’m saying this, but Brian Roberts. Yes, a guy who wasn’t in the league last year (and frankly wasn’t expected by many outside of the Hornets fan base to be in the league this year) is my go-to guard in crunch time. Don't get me wrong-- I'm a Brian Roberts fan, but an elite closer he is not. Ryan: Clutch shots are all about self-belief and confidence, and Austin Rivers has as much of that as anybody. He wasn’t afraid take the last shot at Duke, and he carries himself with a ton of bravado, especially for rookie. He hasn’t been the most efficient shooter thus far, but getting Rivers experience and confidence now could pay dividends for the Hornets in the future. 4. What’s your favorite lineup to watch so far this season? MM: I like Rivers, Vasquez, Anderson, Davis, and Smith. We’ve only seen it for a handful of minutes, and with Smith’s injury we might not see it again for a while, I love the length and effort of that lineup. You could play pick and roll, pick and pop, put Vasquez in the post, run down screens to get Anderson open for three, or isolate Rivers. I want more of that! JC: Factoring in Smith’s injury, which will keep him out through the holidays, I’ll take Vasquez, Rivers, Aminu, Anderson. Each of these guys has to prove. Each has the pressure that is (perhaps unjustifiably) placed on a first round draft pick, but each has another wrinkle: Lopez has some options to earn, Anderson has to justify his choice in selecting the Hornets as a destination for the Most Improved Player, Aminu has to earn his next job, Vasquez has to severe defensive limitations to overcome, and Rivers has to prove that he even belongs on the court. This lineup, at any point, as the potential to take on a very human element. I like that. CT: Austin, Grevis, Ryan, Anthony and Jason. Mainly because it’s easy to look at Vasquez and imagine someone better than him in that position next season. In all honesty, I think as long as we’ve got Jason, Anthony and Ryan playing together I’m happy. The guards could be Jannero Pargo and J.R. Smith for all I care. Can someone order a personalized jersey with the numbers 14 23 and 33 and Davismithderson on the back for me? Joe: Lopez-Thomas-Miller-Rivers-Roberts. They’ve  outscored their opposition by 12 points so far this season, the best of any Hornets lineup. What? A guy can’t enjoy a lineup that scores more points than their opposition? Ryan: My favorite Hornets’ lineup is one we haven’t seen yet: Vasquez, Rivers, Davis, Anderson, and Lopez. While this lineup might struggle defensively, I think it would give the Hornets some very interesting offensive options. Davis is agile enough to play SF, and Anderson spaces the floor as well as anyone in the NBA. That much size would give the Hornets a distinct rebounding advantage, an area where they’ve struggled mightily this year. This lineup could be a great change of pace/momentum shifter if deployed in short stretches. 5. The Hornets will win ____ games this season. MM: I said 25 in our season preview and I am not going to change my mind now. Rivers and Davis will continue to get better as the season goes on, Anderson and Lopez will get more comfortable in Monty’s schemes, and the probable return of Eric Gordon all point to a second half of the season that will be better than the first. JC: I’ll stick with 20. The pace so far justifies this, and though some players will return, others will leave. The dead salary is continuing to pile up, proving Dell and the ownership’s willingness to sacrifice this season for the greater good. As the season wears on, more of this may be possible. CT: Video. The Hornets will win video games this season. In hotel rooms between morning shootarounds and warmups they will plug in an Xbox and play video games. They will play with a healthy Hornets team and go to the playoffs as a #6 seed and upset the Clippers (because Smith > Blake) then outplay the Spurs in Game 7 (because “revenge”) and then sweep OKC in the Conference Finals (because “this is my fantasy”). The pixels will pack in the New Orleans Arena and for the first time NBA 2k14 won’t feature a player on the cover, it will feature a Pelican. Joe: I said 36 in the season preview, but that was largely predicated on Eric Gordon staying on the floor at least long enough for Andrew to snap a picture of him wearing a uniform. I should have known better. Today I’ll go with 26. Ryan: At their current pace, New Orleans won’t even hit 20 victories, but I like the Pelicans (nee Hornets) to win 31. With Gordon returning sometime this month and the rookies, Davis and Rivers, continuing to mature, the Hornets can pick up the pace in 2013 and start winning some of the close games I mentioned earlier. They’re still lottery bound, but they’ll undoubtedly be a tougher matchup in April than they are now.

9 responses to “Hornets Beat: Feelings Edition”

  1. Ryan from Valley of the Suns thank you for coming by and giving us insight.

    I am wondering, since Hornets247 has guest from other truehoop networks come by, do you all as will go their websites and do some guest featuring.

    • It does happen. We also do work with ESPN. I was interviewed by Henry Abbott on the rebrand, and Ryan had a featured article on the big board about Chris Paul being more like Stockton and Thomas. Joe’s all over the place. Mike has been on 870 here a good bit, etc.

  2. I couldn’t agree more that Rivers needs the ball in crunchtime. The Portland game proved that. He’s got the swagger and lately his game has been matching it. The Portland 3 towards the end proves that he can hit the shot. He can also get to the line fairly easily.

    Why can’t Monty start Rivers @1, Vasquez @2?

    • Yeah, I say let Rivers take the shot in crunchtime. Did you see that shot against Portland? That was deep enough to be a Globetrotters 4-pointer! For now, at least, let him take the shot. We’ll take another look at this when Gordon comes back though.

  3. If the Hornets can luck out large again, they could get Alex Len from Maryland, a potential major force. I would rather be in the Hornets position that mst of teams since they have a multi-talented superstar in a year or too, a great outside shooter in Anderson and two potentially excellent guards in Gordon and Rivers. They need a starting point and a center who can get more than three rebounds.

    Don’t underestimate how good AD will be once he figures things out from a position that is entirely new to him, and with 20 more pounds. Go back and remember what KD was like at that age. I think Anthony has more potential. If the guards could figure out how to pass it to him, he could have 5 or 6 dunks or layups a game. Some of the blame must fall on the coaching.

  4. Until we see EG in a Hornets uniform, I want the ball in Rivers hand at the end of games. He’s the only player we have with the quickness and ball handling skills to get his shot at the end of a close game. He may flame out with one of those forced drives to the basket but at least we know he’ll get the ball inside the top of the key.

  5. 1- In Hornetsland, what makes me happy is that I See in the near future, we will be the next Clippers/Thunders Success team.

    2-What makes me sad is monty williams. I’m Sorry, but I just don’t think hey have the best interest in the fans and Hornets organization desires, and the fans and Organizationdesire WINS, & Monty is all about Monty!

    3-Austin Rivers

    4-PG-G.Vasquez, SG-A.Rivers, SF-R.Anderson, PF-A.Davis, C-R.Lopez

    5-The Horners will win in between 20-30 Games!

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