Opponent Scouting: Charlotte Hornets. (15-15)
Tonight at 7:00pm EST the Pistons will be on the road in Charlotte to play against the Hornets. The Pistons are on one day of rest after beating the Timberwolves on Wednesday, as are the Hornets after beating Cleveland.
They played fairly recently but whatever. They come in with the 8th best offense in the NBA by scoring 111.2 points per 100 possessions and the 16th defense by allowing 109 points per 100 possessions. Their net rating of +2.1 per 100 possessions is the 8th best in the NBA.
The Hornets are still led by Kemba Walker who is incredible, averaging 25/4.4/6.3 per game. His efficiency is slowly starting to drop, continuing the time-honored tradition of Kemba Walker looking like the best player in the NBA early in the season and then quietly tailing off to normal all-star levels.
After Walker, Nic Batum is paid an absurd $24 million per year but he’s at least filling a decent complimentary role on offense and is second on the team in minutes played, even though he is averaging just 9 points and 3.4 assists per game. Jeremy Lamb, who the Pistons should remember well, is a good shooter and general scorer who competes on defense. Marvin Wiliams is a good but not great complimentary power forward who can shoot and defend but not a lot else.
Cody Zeller is big, strong, fast, and has nice offensive touch. He plays with a really high motor and isn’t asked to do much beyond set screens and run hard.
Miles Bridges is having a nice rookie season off the bench, it’s still not a major role (the Hornets lean heavily on their starters. Bridges is the only bench player over 20 minutes per game at 20.1) but he’s been effective. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is still a high-level defender who can score a bit inside the arc. Tony Parker is still exactly what you always figured old-man Tony Parker would be. Often bad, not much defense, but still fully capable of turning on the quickness and speed for spurts and he generally finds enough spurts to be a plus player. Malik Monk is not good. Willy Hernangomez and Frank Kaminsky are big and can shoot a little.
This team has a all-star at the top and competency throughout the rest of the roster. It would not be unfair to call this team Kemba Walker and his band of merry men.
Matchups to watch:
Pistons vs. Kemba Walker: Until late in the game, the Pistons actually did a solid job last time around, but they can’t have that slip-up late. Kemba is the engine that makes this team go.
Blake Griffin vs. Minimal resistance: Marvin Williams tries hard but he isn’t good enough to hold Blake, and neither is anyone else on the Hornets. Blake should have a excellent chance to have a big game.
Dwane Casey vs. Just playing Jon Leuer: I don’t care that lineups with Zaza Pachulia have been good this season. Zaza Pachulia is not good. Play Jon Leuer.
Andre Drummond vs. Pick and roll defense: He had a rough first quarter last time around here. He got it under control but it put them in a hole early in the game. If Drummond can come out ready for the Hornets attack this time it will make a big difference.
Reggie Jackson vs. Being good: I still want more of it to be in the pick and roll, but at least Jackson had the ball in his hands a bit more last time out so at least some progress. With another good game Jackson can creep over a TS% of 54% and shooting 34% from deep, both important thresholds of effectiveness for him.
Jose Calderon vs. Hitting some 3s: Calderon has been fine filling in for Ish Smith with the Pistons bench largely staying effective. But the man has to hit some 3s at some point. The man is literally on of the most efficient shooters in the history of the NBA.
Pistons vs. Winning important games: The Hornets are right next to the Pistons in the standings. These are games you gotta win.
So in conclusion…
Wink knowingly at your friends if:
Blake Griffin is mashing anything and everything in his path.
Reggie Bullock is bombing 3s the moment he crosses the 3 point line.
The Pistons defense isn’t as sloppy early in the game.
Run for the hills if:
Jose bricks several 3s.
Kemba Walker is cooking all comers.
Jeremy Lamb gets a fadeaway contested jumper off as time expires.
Opportunities for me to look stupid:
Blake Griffin and Kemba Walker both score more than 30 points.
This is a very slow and largely boring game to watch.
Jose Calderon hits 2 threes.
Kemba gets his but it isn’t efficient, Pistons hold everyone else in check. Finally win in Charlotte.
Pistons 117 - Hornets 109.