The Hornets’ starting line-up October 29, 2008: Chris, Mo, Peja, David, and Tyson. Then, when Mo was injured early in the season, Rasual Butler took over the starting role for Mo. Though some had called for an upgrade at the two-guard, most of us realized that Morris Peterson was one of the best fifth-starters in the League (i.e., the fifth best starter). Nonetheless, Hornets fans were pleasantly surprised when Rasual performed well in Mo’s absence. Slowly Mo worked his knee back into shape, until he hurt his foot in a late 2008 game, and was out again. By the time he was healthy, it was too late. Rasual, having the best year of his career, had taken hold of the starting two guard slot.
Is it fair that a starter loses his spot due to injury? I don’t know. But considering Mo already played the least amount of minutes among all Hornets starters last year, we knew it wasn’t about starting. It was about getting minutes. To Mo’s credit, he got that, saying all along, he just wanted to contribute, to help the team, and was the consummate professional at all times, never complaining. But here’s the rub: the minutes suddenly weren’t there. Inexplicably, despite having the talent to make him a starter on a 56-win team, Byron Scott refused to give Mo any minutes.
Now, instead, those minutes are going to Devin Brown. Listen, I want the Hornets to do well. If Devin’s in, I want him to play well. But the fact is, Mo has more talent, and history backs that up. Even this year, an off-year by Mo’s standards, stands as testament to the fact that he should be out there. Consider the following:
- Devin, 2008-09: 36% FG%, 29% 3FG%, 1.9 rebounds per game, 0.9 assists per game, 0.5 steals per game, and 0.1 blocks per game, while committing 1.3 fouls per game and 0.9 turnovers per game.
- Morris, 2008-09: 40% FG%, 39% 3FG%, 2.0 rebounds per game, 0.4 assists per game, 0.3 steals per game, and 0.1 blocks per game, while committing 1.2 fouls per game and 0.4 turnovers per game.
So, basically, Mo is getting more boards, the same blocks, committing less turnovers and fouls, though not getting quite as many steals or assists. But, oh yeah, he’s hitting at shots at 4% better overall, and 10% better from 3-point range, which in Byron’s system is crucial, as its built to allow Chris’ penetration to open up shots for his shooters.
But maybe you’re thinking the statistical sample is too low given the limited minutes of each. Better to take their career stats, then:
- Devin, Career: 41% FG%, 33% 3FG%, 2.8 rebounds per game, 1.5 assists per game, 0.6 steals per game, and 0.1 blocks per game, while committing 1.6 fouls per game and 1.1 turnovers per game.
- Morris, Career: 42% FG%, 37% 3FG%, 3.6 rebounds per game, 1.6 assists per game, 0.9 steals per game, and 0.2 blocks per game, while committing 2.3 fouls per game and 1.0 turnovers per game.
In case you’ve lost track in this melange of numbers, Mo is better at every single stat other than fouls, which considering he’s nowhere near fouling out, is irrelevant. So what the hell is Byron thinking?
MEMO TO BYRON SCOTT: free Mo Pete. The man has skills. He’s a former starter. Maybe Rasual is playing well, maybe they duplicate skills. But what’s wrong with having the same guy come in, when you refuse to change your offensive set for your back-ups? The case isn’t even close. Mo Pete is the most talented, most reliable back-up you have among a bench full of inconsistent bench players, so there’s no excuse not to play him.
The stats all say you should. Isn’t the Hornets’ success in the Playoffs more important than whatever non-basketball issues Byron might have with Mo? It’s a rhetorical question, and the answer is YES. So I hope you’re reading, Byron, because you’ve told us what’s wrong with Hilton’s play, the flaws in Julian’s game, but you’ve yet to justify keeping Mo on the bench in lieu of anyone, let alone Devin. (Sorry Devin.) Enough is enough.
Free Mo Pete.