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Thread: The Missing Piece: Finding the Perfect Small Forward

  1. #1

    The Missing Piece: Finding the Perfect Small Forward

    Earlier this week, Mason and I projected how Eric Gordon’s return would impact this team, and those numbers give Hornets fans plenty of reason to be optimistic moving forward. If Monty makes Gordon the primary ball handler in the pick and roll, both Vasquez and Anderson figure to become more efficient and the Hornets offense as a whole should move from below average to borderline elite. The glaring weakness on this team, however, remains at small forward. So much so, in fact, that we forecasted some minutes for Vasquez at the position, particularly late in games.

    While the Hornets could push to be a borderline playoff team next season with the current roster (provided it remains healthy), the only way this team really starts to rise up the ranks in the Western Conference is if they can solidify this position. Before we look at some guys that could be available in Free Agency, via trade, or in the draft, let’s take a look at the specifics of what the Hornets need from this position to excel.

    1. Transistion Scoring

    The Hornets are actually fantastic in their transition opportunities, as they average the most points per possession in the NBA when they get out and run, in large part due to Ryan Anderson’s three-point shooting on the break. What they lack, however, is a finisher on the wings that can attack the rim when Anthony Davis is not a part of the play. The Hornets have averaged just slightly over one made field goal at the rim in transition in the month of December. If the Hornets are going to increase their offensive efficiency, they will have to get easy points, and easy points came be found in abundance when you get out in transition.

    2. Three-Point Shooting

    So far this season, the Hornets have gotten a total of 10 three-pointers made from their quartet of young small forwards. That’s right, I said 10. In 28 games. When Ryan Anderson is off the court, teams just collapse the middle and there is less room for Lopez in the post and less space for Davis to rim run or work the baseline. Therefore, the small forward on this team has to at least post a threat from beyond the arc, especially if Monty is going to start Davis and Lopez up front.

    3. On-ball Defense

    The Hornets perimeter defense is sorely lacking, ranking in the bottom five in defending isolations and spot-up shooters. Gordon should fix some of that, but the last thing you want to do is run Gordon ragged by forcing him to cover the defenses best perimeter player all game. What the Hornets need is another perimeter defender who can cover that player from time to time in order to give Gordon a break.

    4. Defensive Rebounding

    Last season, the Hornets best units with Eric Gordon featured Al-Farouq Aminu, due in large part to the impact that Aminu had on the glass. Ryan Anderson, Eric Gordon, and Robin Lopez are below average defensive rebounders for their respective positions who likely won’t improve much in that area, while Anthony Davis is a good rebounder who can someday become elite. The Hornets are in the bottom third in the league in defensive rebounding rate overall at 72.8%, but those numbers include Aminu’s fantastic rebounding contributions. In the minutes that Aminu is not on the floor, the Hornets rebound at a rate of 68%, which would be dead last in the entire NBA. The Hornets are a poor rebounding team even with a good defensive rebounding SF on their roster, but they would be downright lost without one.

    Candidates (Pros)

    1. Andre Iguodala – 32.4% from three, 1.2 made per game, 14.5 DRB%

    While Iguodala has had his struggles offensively this season, he is still the elite defender that he was in Philadelphia. So far this season, his counterparts are averaging PER just slightly under 11 in large part due to the fact that Iggy almost never commits a shooting foul. His ability to play aggressive defense on the perimeter without fouling is a major reason why Denver’s defense is drastically better when he is on the floor (-7.8 points per 100). His perimeter defense is fantastic, as he is giving up just .44 points per possession in isolation situations (4th in the NBA) and allowing opponents to shoot just 20% from the field. With regard to his offense, as I mentioned, it has been quite poor this season, but one area where he does excel is in transition, as those opportunites account for over 20% of his offense.

    For the rest of the article, click here.
    @mcnamara247

  2. #2
    Aminu had three of these four (doesn't shoot the three) but his on-ball defense got terrible. I wanna give him the benefit of the doubt and blame it on the poor rotations as a whole, i just don't see how you can lose defensive abilities like that. I guess it all stems from whether he's motivated or not

  3. #3
    no, to kirilenko...he turns 32 by season's end and he will greatly diminish as a player very soon once he loses a step just like gerald wallace...31-33 seems like the magical age where a guy can make a dramatic decline so I can see kirilenko becoming a bad contract if he opts out of his current contract and signs a long-term deal

  4. #4
    Starter Big-O's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CP3nDX30 View Post
    Aminu had three of these four (doesn't shoot the three) but his on-ball defense got terrible. I wanna give him the benefit of the doubt and blame it on the poor rotations as a whole, i just don't see how you can lose defensive abilities like that. I guess it all stems from whether he's motivated or not
    I don't know what happened to him, he looked like he was improving and then he fell off a cliff. Now when he is on the floor all he does is play with his shorts, they are either pulled way up or are falling off his backside. Maybe if he had proper fitting shorts he could focus on playing and not fiddling with his shorts all game.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by CP4MVP View Post
    no, to kirilenko...he turns 32 by season's end and he will greatly diminish as a player very soon once he loses a step just like gerald wallace...31-33 seems like the magical age where a guy can make a dramatic decline so I can see kirilenko becoming a bad contract if he opts out of his current contract and signs a long-term deal
    What if you drafted a guy like Poythress or Porter, who was pretty raw and not ready to come right in and get 28-30 a night? Would you have interest in bringing in a guy like AK47 then, to hold down the fort and teach the young kid how to play?

    People never want older vets, but I maintain that it would expedite the learning process for some rookies- like the way PJ Brown helped West so much over those first few years.

    I wouldn't mind giving AK 3 years/ 27 million if he is going to help someone like Poythress. Combined, they would be making about 12 mil per year and by year 3 AK will be technically overpaid but Poythress would be vastly underpaid should Kirilenko mentor him in a similar fashion.

  6. #6
    I love the way Otto Porter is playing this year, and he checks a lot of boxes for this team. Sweet midrange game, uptick in 3pt%, terrific rebounding as you acknowledged, and he's just a smart player who makes the right pass and never turns it over. Also has length and awareness on defense to get into passing lanes and block shots. He's a guy who's going to get dinged because he's not really an above the rim player, but I love the combination of skills he brings to the table. My only issue with him is he'd be adding another really young, frail guy to the lineup, but with the state of that position I feel good with him competing early on and totally believe we'd be a better team tomorrow with him at SF.

  7. #7
    A Soulful Sports Fan Contributor Eman5805's Avatar
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    I haven't seen a single Muhammad game yet. I'm about to fire up ESPN 3 right now for last night's game. But I have already watched Poythress. He's the guy I want as of right now. Reminds me of Josh Smith with a lot of the same above the rim explosiveness from really close to the basket that Terrence Jones had. Except he's a lot quicker than Jones.

    Has the size and strength to really rock the tweener roll and be the best parts of what a tweener is, make it a good thing rather than something used as a negative.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Eman5805 View Post
    I haven't seen a single Muhammad game yet. I'm about to fire up ESPN 3 right now for last night's game. But I have already watched Poythress. He's the guy I want as of right now. Reminds me of Josh Smith with a lot of the same above the rim explosiveness from really close to the basket that Terrence Jones had. Except he's a lot quicker than Jones.

    Has the size and strength to really rock the tweener roll and be the best parts of what a tweener is, make it a good thing rather than something used as a negative.
    And have you seen him on the fast break? Good god- closest thing I have seen to Karl Malone in that department. Just a combination of strength and speed that nobody will want to step in front of.

  9. #9
    A Soulful Sports Fan Contributor Eman5805's Avatar
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    Ah, the Mailman. Good memories.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelMcNamara View Post
    And have you seen him on the fast break? Good god- closest thing I have seen to Karl Malone in that department. Just a combination of strength and speed that nobody will want to step in front of.
    Shabazz or Prythress?

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Big-O View Post
    I don't know what happened to him, he looked like he was improving and then he fell off a cliff. Now when he is on the floor all he does is play with his shorts, they are either pulled way up or are falling off his backside. Maybe if he had proper fitting shorts he could focus on playing and not fiddling with his shorts all game.
    i think at some point in the next month he'll get one more shot to prove himself with Gordon back. If that doesn't go well, he's outta here

  12. #12
    With the.... First pick in the 2013 NBA Draft , the New Orleans Pelicans select...... SHABAZZ MUHAMMAD..... UCLA"

    /cheers
    //go bobcats
    ///thread
    Dell Demps - the new Jeff Bower

  13. #13
    Starter Big-O's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CP3nDX30 View Post
    i think at some point in the next month he'll get one more shot to prove himself with Gordon back. If that doesn't go well, he's outta here
    He is one of those guys that you want to see do well but I am afraid he will probably never pan out. I hope he proves me wrong

  14. #14
    Am I the only one unimpressed with Porter? While he does many things well, I don't think he has one elite quality.

    "I'm not going to allow my putative owner to answer that question, this is an NBA related press conference. Paul Tagliabue and Roger Goodell have collectively sung their praises of Tom and if uh ESPN has a problem with that tell Mr. Skipper to call me at my office."

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by NOH2313 View Post
    Am I the only one unimpressed with Porter? While he does many things well, I don't think he has one elite quality.
    Elite skills- on ball defense, weakside defense and ability to jump the passing lane

    Offensively, you are correct, though. His best skill is his mid-range jumper and ability to crash the offensive boards.

    You also have to keep in mind that he plays for Georgetown, which plays a very patient game on offense, mostly Princeton. Doesn't really showcase offensive talent.

    Very similar player to Luol Deng IMO when you consider the things he does well and his limitations

  16. #16
    I also think his restraint and the ability to play efficiently is a skill that is under appreciated and hard to teach. Actually, a smart version of Trevor Ariza with a midrange shot isn't a bad comp. Very similar games defensively.

  17. #17
    Starter Austrian_Pelican's Avatar
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    nice read, thanks !

    I saw some Games of the Wolves, and I doubt they trade AK47, he plays very will, is mentoring some Players, especially Shved

    Iguodala, Deng are very expensive, but they could fit very well

    I am really surprised about Brewer this year, if he can keep it up, he is interessting as well, an i doubt they can hold, Iguodala, Brewer, Chandler and Gallinari

  18. #18
    budinger, brewer, shabazz or porter

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by Q-Pon View Post
    nice read, thanks !

    I saw some Games of the Wolves, and I doubt they trade AK47, he plays very will, is mentoring some Players, especially Shved

    Iguodala, Deng are very expensive, but they could fit very well

    I am really surprised about Brewer this year, if he can keep it up, he is interessting as well, an i doubt they can hold, Iguodala, Brewer, Chandler and Gallinari
    I agree, I dont think that the Wolves would trade AK47, but my premise in this article is that Kirilenko would decline the player option next summer so he can pursue a long term contract

  20. #20
    Starter Austrian_Pelican's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelMcNamara View Post
    I agree, I dont think that the Wolves would trade AK47, but my premise in this article is that Kirilenko would decline the player option next summer so he can pursue a long term contract
    okay, sorry my bad but I think he will stay, but on the other hand, these are the Wolves they always find a way to screw their Team

  21. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by Q-Pon View Post
    okay, sorry my bad but I think he will stay, but on the other hand, these are the Wolves they always find a way to screw their Team
    They will have to pick one, maybe two at the most, between Derrick Williams, AK47, and Chase Budinger. I think they would pass on AK if he opted out and wanted 3-4 years. For the Hornets, I would consider it if we got a young SF in the draft. Give the young guy time to come along slowly while learning from a do it all kind of guy who plays with a ton of effort

  22. #22
    Starter Austrian_Pelican's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelMcNamara View Post
    They will have to pick one, maybe two at the most, between Derrick Williams, AK47, and Chase Budinger. I think they would pass on AK if he opted out and wanted 3-4 years. For the Hornets, I would consider it if we got a young SF in the draft. Give the young guy time to come along slowly while learning from a do it all kind of guy who plays with a ton of effort
    yes but I think AK47 likes it there, and he like his role, I think Derrick Williams is the one who will not be there next season

    but would you consider it for 3-4 years too? cause if he wants it whit the Wolves, we will want it here too....
    but thats my opionion too, you need some veterans, or you need a lot of patience

    when Durant and Green were rookies, the Sonics won only 20 Games
    the next year when Westbrook came they won only 23 Games

  23. #23
    Call me crazy but I would make a play for Chase Buddinger. He has the above the rim threat, but his real thing is his 3 pt shooting. We would have both Ryno and Chase and that would leave the 3 and 4's out of the paint. In that case we would need pg's and sg's who could get to the cup.

    But give me Chase.
    Tom Smykowski: Well-well look. I already told you: I deal with the god damn customers so the engineers don't have to. I have people skills; I am good at dealing with people. Can't you understand that? What the hell is wrong with you people?

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  24. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by UNO Gracias View Post
    Call me crazy but I would make a play for Chase Buddinger. He has the above the rim threat, but his real thing is his 3 pt shooting. We would have both Ryno and Chase and that would leave the 3 and 4's out of the paint. In that case we would need pg's and sg's who could get to the cup.

    But give me Chase.
    I am a fan of Chase too. He checks off all the boxes except for rebounding, but if Davis can get to that elite level, the Hornets could get by. But as of now, you have below average rebounders getting heavy minutes in Gordon, Anderson, and Lopez. The Magic were able to get away with having Dwight as their lone above average rebounder for a couple of years but AD isn't at that level yet. That is my only concern with Budinger or Brewer at SF, but its still miles better than what we have currently

  25. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelMcNamara View Post
    I am a fan of Chase too. He checks off all the boxes except for rebounding, but if Davis can get to that elite level, the Hornets could get by. But as of now, you have below average rebounders getting heavy minutes in Gordon, Anderson, and Lopez. The Magic were able to get away with having Dwight as their lone above average rebounder for a couple of years but AD isn't at that level yet. That is my only concern with Budinger or Brewer at SF, but its still miles better than what we have currently
    there is no such thing as a perfect team

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