Rockets 95, Hornets 75: Toyota Center Brick-fest

Scott Halleran - Getty Images

It's becoming increasingly clear that the Hornets will struggle offensively this season

Preseason was never meant to be a way to accurately evaluate a player's miss or makes. A player can miss or make a lot of shots in pre-season and come right back to his averages when the season begins.

What's the point of the preseason then? It's a time to watch the system, to look at how players fit into that system, habits that are forming, lineups that are clicking, and possible trends that could continue into the season. It's not how many shots a player missed or made, but how he made or missed them. So with that, let's begin with:

  • I'll repeat something that's been said a lot of times - Greivis Vasquez will have a difficult time as the starting PG. Here is a list of possible starting PGs in the league - Rondo, Deron, Jrue, Lowry, Irving, Knight, Hill, Jennings, Teague, Wall, Collison, Lin, Lawson, Conley, Parker and Westbrook. What do you notice? Most of them are lightning quick and incredibly fast. This will make it hard for Vasquez both to create on offense and to defend on defense. He's a smart fellow, so he'll find ways. But what I saw from this game is a PG who couldn't turn the corner on pick and rolls and someone who couldn't contain Jeremy Lin.
  • Aminu might have gotten a nice box score - 15 points on 10 shots, 1 made 3 PT shot - but I saw lots of fumbles (4 TOs and countless others that were eventually recovered by a Hornet) and 2~3 shots that didn't even hit the rim (one didn't even hit anything except Parsons' hands). So no, this doesn't mean anything. What irritates me so much about AFA is that, from what I've seen, he makes a good % of his stepback-to-the-left jumpshots (most of them are swishes even). Why can't he transfer that smoothness to a catch-and-shoot? Goes to show you how players react to different situations.
  • Speaking of different situations, it's becoming very apparent that Austin Rivers will struggle when playing in non-isolation situations. His only trait is his ability to get to the rim in 1-on-1 situations and finish/draw contact (something I've repeatedly seen). But he's struggled in catch-and-shoot situations, both at Duke, in Summer League and in Preseason. He also struggles to "straddle" on pick and rolls (this is my own terminology). Straddling the pick and roll is when you can get the attention of both the roll man defender and your own defender - something which CP3 spoiled us with over the years. I know he's new to this and I know it's not the regular season and I know he's 19. But this doesn't help my nerves at all.
  • Rohan told me this:

Lopez looked real good. I thought he protected the rim nicely and was one of the few guys (other than Aminu late) who attempted to take on offensive players in the paint (though he might have gone too hard on Lin, haha). On offense, Asik really couldn't handle him near the hoop at all.

What I saw was very different - I saw a stiff center who's getting more minutes that I think he should. Maybe this is Monty trying to experiment or trying to limit minutes, but I hope once the regular season rolls in, Lopez will be a situational starter - one who'll receive minutes only against the big guys in the league. Lopez in the post is not something that excites me.

  • Brian Roberts is slowly winning my heart. He knows how to straddle a pick and roll (although he doesn't really know what to do when he does this). He knows how to take care of the ball and he has a good midrange shot. Hopefully, this carries over to the real games - the regular season.
  • There are 3 types of players that I like - defenders (specifically defenders who work hard), shooters (specifically, 3 PT shooters) and good floor generals (not necessarily high assist players but good decision makers). Brian Roberts checks half of two criteria (he's somewhat of a shooter and somewhat of a floor general). Darius Miller though checks 2 of those so far. I am really, really rooting for this guy.
  • Lastly, Roger Mason was poor; he shot 7 half-open shots (all of them were jumpers). Mason will be a good 3 PT shooter for us once the system is set, Gordon's back and the rhythm of the regular season kicks in (he's a career 38.1% 3PT shooter on 1342 3PT attempts). But today, he was just not fun to watch.
Overall, not much to see here except for the things we already know - Rivers will struggle, Roberts is impressing, Miller is a potential 3-and-D, Vasquez has to find ways to create, and I still dislike Monty Williams giving Robin Lopez 30 minutes a night. This was a bad game for the Hornets probably in large part due to fatigue. They played their 4th game in a week (Magic, Bobcats, Bobcats, Rockets), so tiredenss definitely may have set in. I expect this to be a non-issue once regular season comes around.
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