Look, I am not gonna be that overeager fan jumping up and down going, “Start the rookies! They’ll save us! Straight to the championship!” I just wanted to make that clear.
It is frustrating in the extreme to watch the Hornets lose to the Spurs on national TV and be left thinking, “Huh. The same stuff that pissed us off last year has not changed. At all.” The loss is not what’s frustrating. I expected it– the Spurs core has been the same for years, while this Hornets team still hasn’t played an entire game together (Diogu, a guy who we expect to get significant backup minutes, is still out with an injury, and last night was Okafor’s first outing after missing the entire preseason). The Spurs are a good team, and realistically they weren’t going to lose the season opener on their home floor.
I won’t say I’m panicking– I have calmed down after a night of sleep. But I am concerned that our first round pick didn’t see the floor– in a game in which the Hornets were down by 14-20 points in the 2nd half– until 2:30 in the fourth quarter. I am concerned that Byron Scott thought Marcus Thornton, the team’s third leading scorer with 12.2 PPG in preseason, wasn’t ready to even dress. I am concerned we pay Peja Stojakovic and James Posey a combined $20 million and they combined to take one shot in the second quarter while our undrafted minimal-salaried backup point guard took 5 and missed them all. If you’re going to move Peja to the bench, the first thing you do when he checks in is run a play for him. Having him get three shots an entire game is an issue that needs to be addressed by the coaching staff. If Bobby Brown can’t or won’t facilitate for guys more talented than him, he needs to be slapped with a red light and sat down, not given the most playing time of anyone off the bench.
Byron Scott is like a parrot at this point. He apparently felt called upon to defend his decision to not dress Thornton in favor of Devin Brown (my old nemesis….. we meet again):
“He’s still got a ways to go, ” Scott said. “Devin (Brown) is much farther along on both ends of the floor as far as knowing our offense, and Devin knows almost every position, which is vital. Defense, he understands what we’re doing with our rotations and things of that sort. Marcus is getting there. He’s just not there, yet. I don’t think it’ll be all year long he’ll (be inactive) because he doesn’t get it on offense and defense. He’s going to get it.”
“Marcus is a young player who is still learning. He makes a lot of mistakes in practice. Devin (Brown) is a veteran guy who I think I can depend on a little bit better on both ends of the floor. It was a tough decision, but I think it was the right decision.”
Yeah, well. This is exactly what Devin Brown did when he got into the game: He immediately committed an offensive foul. Then on the next Hornets possession he threw a wild pass that went out of bounds. Whoo. I just don’t buy it. “He understands what we’re doing with our rotations” on defense. Who saw that game? Did ANY Hornet look like they knew their rotations on defense?
Frankly, I’m depressed that “Devin Brown getting talented young players’ minutes” is already something I’m complaining about one game in. I thought George Shinn issued a mandate to play the youth. The coaching staff responded by…. doing the opposite. Great way to start the year, guys. And watching Eric Maynor and Ty Lawson get minutes for Utah and Denver in the late game just rubbed all kinds of salt into the gaping raw wound. The bottom line is, I don’t care what naked pictures Devin Brown has of Byron Scott– what he brings is just not enough to justify playing him over young guys. Particularly Thornton, who can and should be getting at least ten good minutes off the bench because, despite being a 2nd rounder, he fills a huge positional need. Period. As far as Scott’s unnecessary comments to the T.P. about “well, Darren Collison didn’t have the whole playbook memorized before summer league, like Chris Paul did”… don’t get me going. Really. News flash: Chris Paul is a once in a generation talent. That’s so colossally unfair to make that comparison. Drafting a kid in the first round, then trading for a run-and-gun undrafted point guard and giving the draft pick’s minutes to him, and not giving him minutes even in a blowout… if Darren Collison’s confidence ends up getting destroyed, I am just saying we know who to blame.
But there were good points. The defensive rotations were horrific, by the starters and the bench alike. The team just looked like a bunch of guys who hadn’t played together before. But you know what? That can get better. Ryan at Hornets 247 points out the Hornets actually played at a decent offensive efficiency, scoring 96 points on 86 possessions. Okafor’s 18-10 game blew me away, mostly because I had set my expectations low. Imagine with those three guys (Paul, West, Okafor) clicking offensively and defensively. Julian Wright had his ups and downs, but I think he’ll learn. If the three point shooters are involved early, rather than left to stand around, one of Peja/Peterson/Posey should get hot.
Oh, and speaking of which, I think that’s how I’ll wrap this up:
Memo to James Posey,
The season has now started. Anytime you feel like showing up, that would be, you know, cool.