Looking into the Abyss
by, 10-07-2012 at 01:03 PM (38314 Views)
I wanted to write another blog post if for no other reason but to replace the front page picture. I say "tomorrow" here somewhere. I wrote this yesterday and will also release a couple other blogs I wrote over the last week or so in the upcoming days after I edit them.
Looking into the future is scary, you never know what to expect. You can use your own intellect based on the past and you can listen to what others say but you can’t know until it happens. That’s at least part of the plot of every gimmicky movie ever and a an interesting footnote on the human psyche. I’ve been looking forward to the first preseason game for a while and it is finally almost here. Here is my attempt at looking into the void of the future and my concerns and hopes as to what happens. I also wanted to post somewhere where I can easily go back and look through to see if I was asking the right questions of the franchise and see what things I should have focused on instead. What fell between the cracks of the Hornets 2012 preseason discourse? What was debated on by the fan-base and was it founded or unfounded? I want to see what questions you want to see answered and go back through them halfway through the season, at the end of the season, and even years from now to see what we were talking about, why, and how accurate our projections were. There are so many storylines to follow for the Hornets already and most of them paint a picture of a franchise completing the diametric shift that it had only years ago. We used to overpay for aging, injured three point specialists (Peja) and guys who had a couple rings and good playoff play but were inconsistent (Posey). We were a team in a win now mode trading away an injured but competent big man in Chandler for a mediocre, maybe-he-hasn’t-reached-his-potential guy in Okafor (mediOkafor for those playing at home). Now we have a strong core composed of maybe four guys (lets all say a silent prayer for Rivers to be the player we think he can be) with the addition of a fifth (Tony Mitchel sounds like the type of player I think we should be looking at even if it is a year away and far too soon to project). Our future is bright, our salary is low, our attendance is high, and a few of the teams that are contenders now look to be falling off within the time frame we hope to be truly competitive). Oh, and our new owner already built a championship team in another sport.
We’re familiar with some of the story lines but I would like to make a note of what I am looking forward to watching this season. With a preseason game tomorrow we finally get to see what this new roster looks like. I just wanted to take some notes now to see what we can expect.
• Will Anthony Davis be the franchise player D-Will said he would be from day one?
• What kind of player will Austin Rivers be?
• Will he ever field a series of questions not related to his father?
• Will Robin Lopez become the player Phoenix thought he would be? Although I’m on record of saying my expectations are low I am hoping in the nonsensical trend that aside from Jason Richardson every player that Phoenix trades away (especially young ones) seem to do really well on their next teams. See Joe Johnson, Steve Nash (the first time he left Phoenix), Josh Smith, and Rajon Rondo for example.
• Will Jason Smith make another leap? Will he finally get a good nickname?
• Will Ryan Anderson’s offense remain the same without a presence like Dwight?
• Will RoLo, AD23, and Ryno play at the same time?
• How will AAAAAAAAA do as an announcer? He seemed kinda rough in the Hornets247 interview although he is a likable guy and I certainly wish him the best.
• Will Demps be retained?
• Will Benson be the owner the Hornets needed?
• Will the Hornets be rebranded?
• Will our offense be primarily drive and kicks between Rivers and Gordon?
• Does AD23 really have a face up game? It seems like he should with his “guard skills” but we saw him dribble exactly once all Olympics.
• What’s the over/under on lobs to Davis this season?
• What wacky, wild trades will Demps make? Aside from players with low to no value such as Thomas and Henry it seems like Vasquez is the only worthy trade-bate we have. Demps is a bit of a mover and a shaker. Can he stand pat when necessary while attempting a contract?
• Can Miller do have the three tools (defense, three point shooting, rebounding) that I think we need from our primary SF or will Aminu, who has shown flashes of one and consistent with the other two finally find his range again (see his first two months in the NBA with the Clippers. The guy was on fire from beyond the arc and lost it somehow.)?
• Can Rivers see the court?
• Can Rivers shoot at least 70% from the charity stripe?
• Suddenly we have a roster that likes to run. Monty has always been a slow, half-court offense kind of coach. Can he run a fast offense? Can Monty coach effective offense that averages more than 92.4 points per game(his average points per game average since assuming the role of head coach)?
• Anthony Davis had a staggering 2.7 blocks per foul. How will those numbers translate in the NBA?
• Can Skynet win the blocking title this year? If he gets more than 3 blocks a game as a rookie it will be the first time since Shaq.
• How many games does Davis play as the “center”?
• Does Davis play more at the five than four?
• Hornets are set up to play a kind of positionless basketball? Is that the goal? Is that what will end up happening or is Monty more conservative with basketball than we thought?
• Will Anderson’s defense be troubling to Monty? There are conflicting reports over his D in Orlando and its difficult to project how accurate those accounts were without going back and watching a lot of footage and once again, the dynamic changes a lot when you have a player of such merit as Dwight Howard on the court with you. The guy from the Magic blog that was interviewed by Hornets247 said that a lot of big men go at him like he has a target on him. Davis may help mitigate that but I can’t imagine Monty being too happy about that.
• Will Anderson’s offensive rebounding numbers continue to be staggering, were they a byproduct of playing with Dwight, or were they enigmatic?
• Will Anderson become the new favorite player? Magic had a lot of notable players on their team (Dwight Howard, JJ Redick, Big Baby Davis, Jason Richardson, Hedo “ball” Turkyglue, and Jamir Nelson) last season and the die-hard fans seemed really attached to primarily Anderson. He seems really well-liked so far and is a sharp, charismatic guy who plays a niche role so why not him?
• How will the personalities shake out between Davis, Rivers, Gordon, and Anderson? They are all good enough (or are expected to be) to have real egos (and two definitely do). The Hornets have had a real injury curse whenever they seem to be about to make waves, will that strike again or will we one again see competitions ugly side rear and see a player demand a trade (callback to the Johnson/Mourning feud).
• Will anyone aside from Gordon be able to create their own shot? As much as (was it Dell or Monty) wanted another guy with a “killer instinct” in Anderson, there’s no way you’re going to run isolation plays for him and he won’t always have a mismatch.
• Will Anthony Davis Shoot threes? He did in college occasionally and he taunted his old coach after making one in the Olympics. If he takes long shots then look at our rotation. We have Smith (who has been working on his corner three this offseason), Anderson (duh), and Davis all capable of hitting the long ball, and maybe better than Vasquez, Gordon, and Rivers!
That leads me to a side note that’s not a question but a projection:
With Gordon, Vasquez, and Rivers al looking like more slashers than guys who hang out on the perimeter, and our big men who appear to want to hang out, stretch out the D, and play the long ball, I think our half court offense could be effective. Imagine the opponent’s big men having to hang out, far away from the basket so they can cover our shooting bigs. Our ball handler can go iso to break down their defender and try and get to the hoop. Rivers has a killer crossover and Gordon can break down a defender with the best of them. If they beat their defender they either A- get a clean look at the hoop or B- the defending big has to close in on them and leave one of our shooters open on the perimeter. This would mean our shots would most likely come from shots at the rim, threes, or mid range floaters. I don’t have the FG% of floaters in front of me but I’ll tell you that the other two shots are the two most effective in the game as far as points per shot go. If we see this offensive set consistently tomorrow I’ll buy a Rivers or Davis jersey tomorrow night because we’ll be in for a fun time.
Vasquez is a better guard in the pick and roll while RoLo can’t play far away from the hoop allowing us to play a more traditional offense as well which is great because it allows us some dynamicy(totally a word) so teams can’t always predict what we’ll throw out at them.
Anyways, that’s my two cents from a guy who couldn’t be more removed from any inside information. Please tell me what you look forward to most and what you’ll be looking at over this preseason and start of the regular season. Thanks for taking the time to read my long, drawn out diatribe and go Hornets!