Hornets Beat: Season Preview Part 2
The gang tackles the second and final portion of our New Orleans Hornets season preview.
If you missed it, check out the first part of our Hornets Season Preview.
6. What do you expect will make you pump your fist in excitement most often this season?
MM: Anthony Davis blocks that land in teammates hands and lead to fast breaks. Okafor blocked the occasional shot and Chandler spiked many a balls out of bounds, but Davis has the ability to turn defense into offense, and I think those plays will get the Hive buzzing this year.
MG: McNamaraís is definitely up there, but Iím going to play the role of Mr. Optimist with mine – Eric Gordon breaking down the defense, getting into the paint, and either finishing tough and-1ís or kicking the ball out to Ryan Anderson for wide open wing or corner 3s.
JM: Upsetting a playoff bound team, or two, at the Hive on a game winning Gordon shot.
JC: Alley-oops. Theyíre a weakness of mine up there with shrimp and grits.
Joe: Ryan Anderson threes. Few things made the hive explode like when Peja started getting hot from downtown. I expect a lot of that this year from our new oversized sharpshooter.
7. What do you expect will make you shake your head in disappointment most often this season?
MM: Austin Rivers 27-foot three pointers. Look, he definitely has the range and he will make a couple this year, but something good always happens when that kid takes it to the rack. Settling for those shots will make any coach go bald- lucky for Monty, he is already there.
MG: The same thing that made me shake my head last year, except this year Iíll know itís the beginning of the end – Aminuís relentless drives into traffic, resulting in either turnovers or wild shots. He is undoubtedly aware that eventually, heís going to have to show that he can at least be competent offensively; unfortunately, this will likely lead to him trying to force the issue even more than last season.
JM: Offensive ineptitude. The Hornets are not the most talented team in the league, but they need to stop settling for so many long twoís. Unfortunately, I donít see that changing too much this season.
JC: EJ wearing the latest in fashion from wherever it is people that buy clothes besides at concerts.
Joe: The pace of play. I expect the Hornets to yet again be near the bottom of the league in possessions per 48, and with this roster I just donít why.
8. What does Austin Rivers have to show you this year to prove he was worth the 10th pick?
MM: This year- nothing but effort. By year three, however, he will be declared either worthy of the pick or a reach. All I want to see this year is a desire to make himself and his teammates better every night and a commitment to playing all out for 48 minutes. I would be shocked if a kid with this work ethic and attitude fails to meet those expectations.
MG: Be coachable on offense, and the Energizer Bunny on defense. His overall work ethic has never been a question, but his defensive intensity has been; if he listens to a great coach like Monty and never lets up on the defensive end, I will be a happy camper.
JM: Simply put: be better at the end of the season than at the start. Iím not looking for him to make a gigantic impact this season. This question become more interesting and in depth for his third season.
JC: I really donít care how he starts the season, but heíll avoid flak from me in the offseason if he could be at least the fourth guard on 20 of the 30 NBA teams with room to grow and still be on an upward trajectory.
Joe: He needs to fit into a system and not try to be the star of one. Look, Rivers has been either the best or one of the best players on every team heís ever played on. Thatís not going to be the case this year, and it likely wonít be the case next year. I want to see him accept his duty as a role player and limit playing hero-ball, no matter how much he may want to start chucking.
9. If he stays healthy, how confident (as a %) are you that Anthony Davis wins ROY?
MM: 90%. I think the only other guy with a shot is Lillard due to how many minutes and shots he will get for Portland. But Davis should have a healthy stat line and a better record.
MG: 95%. Thereís a reason that Davis was the easiest #1 choice since LeBron. Heís miles ahead of the rest of his class, and will prove it from the start.
JM: 85%. Lillard is going to put up some eye-catching offensive numbers in Portland. That alone might win him the award. But Davis is the frontrunner to start.
JC: 99%. Itís a stupid award. Politics plays a huge role, and that is sad. In the past 6 years, the top pick won the award 2 times. In three of the cases, health of the top pick was a factor: Blake Griffin fell-down-went-boom against the Hornets and missed the season, Greg Oden turned to the left and missed the season, and Andrea Bargnani missed a month due to an appendectomy. In the last case, non-rookie-to-me Blake Griffin won the award the season after he was drafted.over John Wall who played only 69 games compared to Blakeís 82 games. In that 7th season, Chris Paul won it over Bogut. I donít believe there is another eligible player that can outstrip Davis by a Paul-over-Bogut margin.
Joe: 80%. I agree with Jake that Lillard could throw up huge offensive numbers, which seem to be noticed more than blocks and rebounds per game. Still, Davis has the hype so itís his game to lose.
10. Last year it was Jason Smith who took home MIH (Most Improved Hornet). Who takes home the hardware after this season?
MM: Lance Thomas. I think at some point he will get a shot to play decent minutes and will impress us all with a more consistent stroke from 17 feet, along with a better effort on the glass.
MG: If the answer to this question by seasonís end is Aminu, then the playoffs are not entirely out of the question. Unfortunately, I donít see that being the case, so Iíll go with Greivis Vasquez due to a better assist/turnover ratio and a higher 3-point percentage. Thomas may be the only other reasonable answer to this question, but minutes are just going to be too hard to come by for him in the Hornetsí loaded front court.
JM: Iíd have to say Vasquez, too. If he cuts down on his turnovers he can make a significant improvement to his playmaking ability.
JC: Aminu, assuming he sticks around. Part of winning this has to be breaking through low expectations. Heís a lock in the expectation category. Smith improved markedly in his second Montastic year. Aminu is in that year now and played the position Monty did, plus he’s playing for a contract.
Joe: Brian Roberts– Maybe Iím just a sucker for Summer League, but Roberts looked really good out there, and heís been able to carry that success into the preseason. I expect by yearís end weíll be looking at an adequate, although likely below average, backup point guard.
At the Buzzer– How many wins do you expect, and do they make the playoffs?
MM: This question is impossible to answer without knowing how many games Eric Gordon plays. If he plays 80, I would say 40-42. If he plays 20, then I would say 17-55. It is that big of a difference. I will stick with my gut, however and say Gordon misses nearly half the season and the Hornets go 25-57. No playoffs, sixth most lottery balls, and another stroke of luck gets us the #3 pick in the 2013 draft.
MG: As McNamara noted, it all depends on Eric Gordonís health. Iíll say that the Hornets narrowly avoid the 50-loss mark, going 33-49. A full season of Gordon could get them close to playoff contention, but with no evidence of that being a likely scenario, itís hard to comfortably predict it to be the case.
JM: Iíll go with 35 wins, but it all depends on Gordon.
JC: 20 wins. There will be worse teams in the NBA, but I expect the Hornets to be proportionately worse this year compared to last. They are thin, young, tinkering, and playing with lower effective cap than other teams thanks to Lewisí buyout. With ownership trimming expenses and paying some off-the-court bills, incremental changes to inch up the win total just is not in the cards. They will be poised for big leap next season when Lewisí foot gets off their necks. Also, no playoffs.
Joe: For the first time since I started here, Iím not going to predict the Hornets as a playoff team. Gordon will stay on the floor long enough to keep them respectable and within earshot of making the postseason, but itís just not going to happen. Sigh… 36-46