Anthony Davis and Hornets come to the D

Essentials

  • Teams: New Orleans Hornets (17-34) at Detroit Pistons (20-32)
  • Date: February 11, 2013
  • Time: 7:30 p.m.
  • Television: FSD

What to look for

After losing to the Toronto Raptors last night, the New Orleans Hornets will try to bounce back tonight when they face off against the Detroit Pistons at the Palace of Auburn Hills.

Monty Williams’ team might be in the midst of a bad season, but the team has shown some steady improvement, particularly on the defensive end, which could go a long way towards determining what kind of squad they will be in the future.

Indeed, their defense has consistently improved this season, to the point that they are no longer abysmal, but rather working their way towards being respectable.

On the season, they allow 106.7 points per 100 possessions which is 27th in the league, but if we look at the breakdown per month, we’ll notice that things have progressively looked better. Have a look at the graphic below courtesy of data obtained from NBA.com’s advanced stats tool:

Month

Games Played

Defensive Efficiency

October

1

101.6

November

13

107.6

December

16

106.4

January

16

105.3

February

5

111.2

Things have fallen apart a bit in February because of two awful defensive showings against the Denver Nuggets and Minnesota Timberwolves.

Nonetheless, their steady improvement on this side of the ball has occurred because stud rookie Anthony Davis is slowly getting better accustomed to understanding what NBA offenses are trying to accomplish on the floor.

In December, I wrote a piece explaining some of the issues the Hornets faced with the Kentucky product on the defensive side of the ball. Here’s a quick excerpt:

For instance, defensively he recognizes his assignments but it often takes him a split second to figure out where to run to and who to rotate to; which is usually the difference between an open shot and a contested one. Thus, it’s common to see him run out late to close out shooters or simply hug his man if it’s a player capable of converting perimeter jumpers.

The big man has improved on this front and provides better support for his teammates when opponents force him to make decisions.

Davis now helps out in the pick-and-roll and rotates back to his man all the while tracking the ball and placing himself to be in a help position at all times. Furthermore, he is becoming more adept at rotating at the proper time when helping out his teammates and even calls switches with the other big man playing alongside him whenever appropriate, like in a situation where the opposing team runs a staggered screen.

With that said, for all of Davis’ improvements and that of his team, they are still a team that will occasionally surrender easy points to their opponents because of their youth.

As a group, the Hornets do not yet grasp when to completely sell out to bail out a teammate and when to stunt and recover back to their initial assignment as the player initially beaten recovers back in time to pick up his man.

Consequently, they allow the seventh most amount of shots at the rim per game (26.5 shots) and also yield a 65.7 percent conversion rate on those same shots, which is the 10th highest figure in the Association.

This particularly happens whenever Austin Rivers enters the game because shooting guards love to bring him down to the box and overpower him for an easy shot right at the basket, or force the defense to throw an extra defender to help out, which opens up driving lanes and allows for second chance opportunities.

Hence, the Detroit Pistons will have an opportunity to create some shots at the rim tonight against the Hornets, but it will be important that their defense comes prepared to defend the 3-point line because the Hornets are one of the best long-range shooting teams in the league as evidenced by their 37.3 percent 3-point shooting this season (seventh best in the league).

More importantly, Detroit should focus on the corners, but particularly the right one, where New Orleans converts 42 percent of their treys.

Enjoy tonight’s contest.

Read about the Hornets

Hornets247.

Statistical support provided by NBA.com.

Tags: New Orleans Pelicans THN-NOR

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