New Orleans Hornets Season Preview

The Brow in the Bayou

Pretty sure that title has been used somewhere before. I just thought of it a few minutes ago but lets just go with it and say it hasn’t.

The New Orleans Hornets are looking to make a splash on the NBA once again after going their first full season without superstar Chris Paul.

The Paul trade ended up being a blessing for their organization because of how their draft turned out. They ended up with the number one and 10 pick( 10 pick acquired through the trade). Given the main piece that they had to give up was Paul, I’d say that Davis and Rivers were probably the best thing they could’ve gotten.

Anthony Davis is probably the most coveted basketball player since LeBron James. He’s supposed to be the next great big man to come into the NBA. Because of his inhuman growth spurt–from a 6-3 guard to a 6-10 forward/center–Davis has above average ball handling and passing capability for a big. Many liken him to Marcus Camby.

Davis has also drawn comparisons to great players like Tim Duncan and Patrick Ewing because of how fundamentally sound and defensively dominant he was.

Davis averaged 14.2 points, 4.7 blocks, and 10.4 rebounds per game. He also shot 60% from the field and 70% from the free throw line. Can you say efficient?

Davis won the MOP in the Final Four’s championship game where he only scored six points. He was so dominant in all other facets of the game and he proved his worth as the next number one overall pick.

The Hornets won’t regret making this pick at all. The transition from the Chris Paul era is going to be much easier with a potential stud like Davis.

Not to mention that he’ll have the scoring presence of Eric Gordon and Austin Rivers to back him up. We’ll get into their potential as a backcourt later in this post, but on paper it looks like a nice, young core of guys who will play together for years to come.

When There Aren’t Enough Balls to Go Around

Please, don’t laugh at that.

Eric Gordon has shown that he can be a dynamic scorer on the NBA level when healthy. In every season before 2011-2012 Gordon had increased his scoring output and in 2010-2011 he established himself as a 20 point per game scorer. The issue for Gordon is that he can’t stay on the floor.

Gordon only played 56 games in 2010-2011 and only nine of 66 last season. If he can stay on the floor he and Austin Rivers will make a wonderful backcourt tandem on paper. It can be the same on the floor as well if Rivers cooperates.

Rivers worries me because of his awful assists totals in his Freshman year at Duke. He only averaged 2.1 assists in 33.1 minutes at Duke. Rivers averaged more fouls and turnovers than he did assists–2.2 and 2.3 respectively.

Also, Rivers has a shaky and inconsistent jump shot. When he’s off, he’s really off. He has the tendency to get hot and cold as most other volume shooters do. His jump shot’s form isn’t perfect as he waits to release the ball on his way down. His 36% shooting from beyond the arch can throw you off. He averaged almost five three-point attempts per game and only made about two.

He tends to over-dribble and doesn’t really look for teammates. If the Hornets are planning on playing him at lead guard it could lead to some trouble between he and Gordon.

Though, if they end up sharing the ball together it could work out. Gordon should probably initiate the offense more than Rivers because of his ability to see other players and score.

He may not be the best passer, but he’s a better one than Rivers. With their lack of depth at the point guard position one of them will need to step up and provide that for their teammates.

Who knows, maybe Greivis Vasquez will show some promise during camp and end up taking the lead guard spot from Rivers. Anything is possible right now.

Minute Allocation

With the addition of Ryan Anderson an Roger Mason Jr. the Hornets have added an extra element to their offense that they really needed last season. In the NBA you can really never have enough shooting.

Also, the addition of Robin Lopez will let Anthony Davis play the four spot right now as opposed to sliding him down to the five too early. Davis weighs in at 210 right now which isn’t how much you’d like to weigh playing center. Once he bulks up he’ll be able to slide up and man that spot.

I’d liken Davis to someone of Serge Ibaka’s mold. He’ll be able to block shots and play excellent help defense but as a one on one defender he may struggle because of his weight. Sure, his length can be an advantage, but if he’s pushed under the rim that doesn’t matter. Its best that he just spaces the floor for now and work from there.

Starters

Austin Rivers- 32.4 Mpg

Eric Gordon- 35.8 Mpg

Al-Farouq Aminu- 23.3 Mpg

Anthony Davis-33.9 Mpg

Robin Lopez- 28.1 Mpg

Reserves

Ryan Anderson- 31.2

Jason Smith- 22.5

Xavier Henry- 25.2 Mpg

Hakim Warrick- 20.3 Mpg

Roger Mason- 18.2 Mpg

Greivis Vasquez- 24.8

Lance Thomas- 17.4 Mpg

Darius Miller- 15.2 Mpg

Brian Roberts- 12.7 Mpg

Conclusion

I think that this year is just a year for the Hornets to begin to mold their true team. They’ll see what Davis and Rivers bring to the table and try to keep Eric Gordon healthy for the season. If he can’t stay healthy I wouldn’t be surprised to see his name in the rumor mill again.

Once this season is over the Hornets will see where to go from here. They’ll continue to bring pieces around Davis and try to build a productive squad.

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