Scouting the NBA: Week Seven — Anthony Davis Returns to Hornets Lineup
The New Orleans Hornets schedule doesn’t get any easier and despite the return of Anthony Davis they still will be heavily unfavored in many of their*match-ups*this week.
However that doesn’t mean that this week can’t be successful and that the Hornets can’t win. No, I’m going to say that New Orleans can win a few games this week. With the first of our games against…
Game Twenty: Tuesday 11th vs. Washington Wizards — Fox Sports New Orleans, 7pm CST
After facing the Miami Heat on Saturday, the New Orleans Hornets return home to take on a reeling Wizards squad that only has two wins this season. The Hornets traded a couple of players to Washington in return for an expiring (and massive) contract of Rashard Lewis. The Wizards thought that Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza would propel them to the playoffs, now they’re wondering whether they can cut bait on these two diminished assets.
Kyle Weidie of Truth About It (The Wizards Blog) wrote this about former Hornet Emeka Okafor:
Actually, here’s a fun game: Okafor has played in 17 games this season, how many times has his points plus rebounds exceeded 13.5? The answer is seven. Seven times Emeka Okafor has produced this equation: Points + Rebounds > Annual Salary in Millions … and that is just sad.Yeesh… Either way, the Wizards and their owners have some soul-searching to do because the roster moves made by the team over the past five years have been less than stellar.
- Player of Interest for the Hornets: Kevin Seraphin
This one is a stretch. If the Hornets see fit to lose both Jason Smith (why would they?) and also Robin Lopez then Kevin Seraphin would be an ideal fit as a backup big. I looked all over the place and while John Wall would be a nice addition I can hardly see him being a realistic target. Seraphin’s contract expires with Wall’s, however I would expect him to be more involved in trades than the former number one overall pick.
- Best Matchup for the Wizards: Bradley Beal vs. Roger Mason/Austin Rivers
I discussed over at Truth About It about how we Hornet fans have been disappointed with Austin more so than Wizard fans are about Beal. For those not in the loop the third overall pick has been struggling in his rookie campaign shooting 35 per-cent from the field as well as 32 per-cent from three. That shooting-percentages are similar to Rivers but the reason Beal breaks out is because he’s actually been playing better and can get hot from deep.
That’s not good news for Hornet fans because we are the worst team in the league at defending the three. Mason, Rivers, Vasquez & Roberts all have a difficult time of keeping their man in front of them. That leads to dribble penetration, which then leads to wide open three’s as help defenders have to leave their man to stop the easy layup.
- Best Matchup for the Hornets: Ryan Anderson vs. Chris Singleton
I have been advocating for weeks now that Ryan Anderson receives All-Star mentions. He’s been shooting a ridiculous 44 per-cent from three and also leads the NBA in made three’s and also leads the league in attempts. Yes, I know I was smart to draft him for my fantasy league so thank you Ryan.
It’s going to be tough for the Wizards to cover Anderson and if they don’t game-plan for him effectively they could be in for a long night. Even the Heat, who seemingly looked to stop Anderson at every opportunity, couldn’t control him. If and when Ryan starts receiving respect from the referees (shout-out to McNamara’s Twitter) the league will be on notice.
Some see this as a trap game, but for a team as bad as New Orleans I don’t think these even exist. If Davis plays I expect us to win, not comfortably, but a win none the less.
Game Twenty-One: Wednesday 12th @ Oklahoma City Thunder — Fox Sports New Orleans, 7pm CST
The Thunder have beaten the Hornets twice already this season, so it’s only fair that we face them again on a back-to-back. If New Orleans wishes to stand a chance in this one their going to need some whistles, some hot-shooting and a low-turnover count. This isn’t mentioning the need to slow-down the two Kevin’s, Russell and I-Block-a.
- Best Matchup for the Thunder: Kevin Durant vs. Any Small-Forward in his way
At this point in Kevin Durant’s career he is arguably, no he is, the best pure scorer in the game. The thing about Kevin is that at time he’ll choose to let his team-mates control the possession, get them involved. While he could be scoring 40-points a night, he’s not. Rather he’s getting others involved and preserving himself for later in the season.
- Best Matchup for the Hornets: Robin Lopez vs. Kendrick Perkins
Care to venture what Lopez’s PER is this season?
Any takers? 10, maybe 12?
PER: 19.8 — Yes it is that high. Despite Lopez’s deficiencies he’s played well in certain facets of the game. He’s done an excellent job of finishing round the basket (Career high 73.6%) and he’s done a decent job of hitting his jump-shots (43% on 16-23 foot jumpers). I think that Lopez can best Perkins in this one.
- Prediction: Thunder by 18
If you were a betting man I’d take a look at the spread, it’ll be large. The Thunder have the day off today so they’ll be fresh for the H’Nets. Also how much worse is Thunder than Pelicans… “Oh hey guys I’m a Thunder! Rawwww!”
Game Twenty-Two: Friday 14th vs. Minnesota Timberwolves — Fox Sports New Orleans, 7pm CST
With Kevin Love back in the lineup the Timberwolves haven’t exactly been on a tear. At the time of publishing the Wolves are 4-5 with Love in the lineup, they are 5-4 without him. Now this doesn’t mean a whole lot because their opponents have something to do with this. The ‘Wolves should be taken seriously. They’re starting to gel (won four of their last six) and with Rubio about to return things look very promising in the Twin City.
- Player of Interest: Some of their Fortune 500 Companies
Seriously, how many do they have in the city of Minneapolis?
- Best Matchup for the Timberwolves: Kevin Love/Derrick Williams vs. Ryan Anderson
I really think that on both ends Ryan will struggle in this night. Love is a tough cover in any regard and Williams has serious length as well as decent enough foot speed to stay with the sharpshooter. Fantasy owners beware.
- Best Matchup for the Hornets: The slow-pace of the game
The Wolves aren’t the slowest team in the league (Hello Hornets!) but they aren’t doing any hail-mary Lebron passes any-time soon (Or this Klay Thompson one). Minnesota ranks 19th in the league in pace and so hopefully this will aid the Hornets in controlling the tempo and forcing the Wolves to stupor to their level.
I don’t see Minnesota blowing this one wide open, probably because I feel like New Orleans can control the game and frustrate Minnesota. But I wouldn’t be shocked if they won it by more, I’m just being optimistic.
Game Twenty-Three: Sunday 16th @ Portland Trail Blazers — Fox Sports New Orleans, 8pm CST
I’ll be honest I’ve had this game circled on my*calendar*for a while now. Michael and Ryan talked on Podcast 103 about who they expect to win Rookie of the Year between Anthony Davis and Damian Lillard. It’s pretty clear to me on all the Rookie Ladders, the Twitter talk and the general vibe of the NBA fan that Lillard is in the lead.
Though if Davis can be healthy for the rest of the season, put up similar numbers to what he already has, I expect him to win it. It’s a big ask for a young player. Davis has insisted that he’s not interested in the ROY chase:
“Not really, I’m just out here trying to have fun,” Davis said when asked if he’s paying attention to the R.O.Y. race. “Damian Lillard is a great player and there are other rookies out there who great players as well, but I’m just out here having fun. If I win, I win. If I don’t, I don’t. I’m just out here having fun and I’m just happy to be in the league. Most guys don’t get that opportunity and God blessed me with it so I’m just out here trying to have fun and enjoy it.”
- Player of Interest for the Hornets: Luke Babbitt
As a shooter that’s all Babbitt can do. I expect him to go to a big-name team who says he’s worked on other facets of his game, but really hasn’t, gets overpaid then people wonder why they signed him, only for him to hit 5 three pointers in the second half to move the team into the championship series.
- Best Matchup for the Blazers: Damian Lillard vs. Greivis Vasquez
Our*Venezuelan*readers won’t be happy with us as we once again sand-blast their iconic sports hero. It’s not that we don’t like Vasquez ’cause we do. It’s just that he’s not a starting point-guard, yet he has expectations of being one. There’s nothing wrong with that, but we’re just looking into the future and I don’t see Vasquez as the lead ball-handler for a winner.
Lillard can have a big day against Greivis if he plays it right. Damian plays little if any defense (something he never gets called out for) but if he’s smart he’ll trap and get some steals as well as run multiple PnR sets with LaMarcus Aldridge.
- Best Matchup for the Hornets: Anthony Davis vs. J.J. Hickson
If Davis spends any*exorbitant amount of time guarding LaMarcus Aldridge on defense I’ll be surprised. Leave that to Smith and Lopez to deal with. Davis can have a big game against a player who’s fighting for his next NBA contract. It’s going to be a great game either way because it’ll be the two leading ROY candidates going head to head.
Hey there! A Hornets win on the road! Yes, as you watch the Saints season*wind down you should know that the Hornets will be beating the Portland Trail Blazers, in the Rose Garden as they’ve done for the last 5 seasons. While most of those involved Chris Paul, this one will be Anthony Davis and his unibrow will crush Damian Lillard’s ROY aspirations once and for all.
Motif of the Week