Opponent Scouting: Charlotte Hornets. (13-13)
Tonight at 7:00pm EST the Pistons will be on the road to play against the Charlotte Hornets. The Pistons are on one day of rest after losing to the 76ers on Monday, and the Hornets are on two days of rest after beating the Knicks on Sunday.
The Hornets are maybe really good? They come in with just a 13-13 record, but they sport the 5th best offense in the NBA by scoring 111.7 points per 100 possessions and the 16th defense by allowing 108.5 points per 100 possessions. That combines for a net rating of +3.2 which is the 8th best in basketball.
The Hornets are led by Kemba Walker who is every bit as good as advertised. Averaging just under 26 points on just over 6 assists per game on a TS% of 57%. Walker moves like water, violent water, in absurd step-backs and hesitations and is fearless about pulling up from three from anywhere.
After Walker, it isn’t all that pretty but they’ve got a bunch of guys who can play. Nic Batum is scoring just 9 points and dishing 3.5 assists per game. Jeremy Lamb has quietly become really good, averaging an efficient 15.1 points per game and shooting the ball well. Marvin Williams is a prototypical stretch 4 who isn’t all that remarkable but he’s a solid player. Cody Zeller is really good, his rolls to the rim are not high-leaping acts of athleticism, but he runs hard, has great hands, and is a good finisher.
Off the bench, Miles Bridges has been effective as a bench cog, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist still doesn’t shoot threes but he defends and can score inside. Malik Monk may just never be any good, the husk of Tony Parker can still do some things but he’s way over the hump. Willy Hernangomez has quietly been a effective forward off the bench.
This team has an all-world point guard, and a bunch of other guys who can play. I’m not sure if this team is going to be able to get their record to reflect their per 100 possessions data, it happens more than you’d think. The best news is they have been almost remarkably healthy this season, which has been an issue the past few years.
Matchups to watch:
Pistons vs. Kemba: Whoever the Pistons put on Kemba most of the night, it will be a team effort to contain him. He’s going to take a ton of shots no matter what, that’s just how the team is set up, the trick is to make him not as efficient as normal.
Pistons vs. Being healthy: Last time out was comical, they were literally missing half of their normal rotation. Word is that Blake Griffin should be good to go, and there’s a good chance both Stanley Johnson and Reggie Bullock can as well. Regardless, it will have a big impact.
Luke Kennard vs. Letting fly: This guy can really play, both the coaching staff and himself have to believe in his offensive abilities.
Andre Drummond vs. The Hornets: Zeller is good, but the Hornets do not employ a ton of size overall. Drummond could have a good chance to produce another big game.
Pistons vs. Catching their fall: This is as brutal a stretch of schedule as you face in the NBA. Going on a losing streak is hardly a sin. That said, they have to win at least a few this month, and this is one of their better chances.
So in conclusion…
Wink knowingly at your friends if:
Andre Drummond is pasting all opposition.
The Pistons have the majority of their regular rotation.
“Is that Luke Kennard or is it Jesus? Can’t say for sure.”
Run for the hills if:
Kemba starts bombing pull-up threes and leaving Pistons defenders crippled on the ground in his wake.
Everyone is still hurt and the Pistons start pulling people from the stands.
The Hornet’s solid depth takes advantage of a short-handed Pistons bench.
Opportunities for me to look stupid:
Blake returns with a vengeance.
Bruce Brown guards Kemba a lot and it doesn’t work very well.
Other players struggle to really get much going on the Hornets.
Blake Griffin dominates the game, the Pistons contain the Hornets beyond Kemba.
Pistons 113 - Hornets 104.