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Improving the Offense



The New Orleans Hornets have won the prize in the draft, taking Anthony Davis 1st overall and added to their haul by getting Austin Rivers at 10th and Davis' teammate Darius Miller at 46th. While the Hornets aren't competing for a playoff spot any time soon, they just might be able to.

The key for the Hornets to remain competitive, especially in the most competitive division in the more competitive conference, is to improve the offense. The defense isn't so much the problem - the Hornets allowed a very good 93.4 points per game, good enough for 8th out of 30 teams, and a Defensive Rating of 105.1, good for 15th out of 30. For reference, the two Western Conference Finalists, San Antonio and Oklahoma City, have Defensive Ratings ranked 10th and 11th, respectively.

But the Hornets fell to last in the conference and tied for third worst in the league because they didn't produce enough offense to go with their defense. While it is because of the Chris Paul trade, removing the guy kickstarting the Hornets offense, and injuries to the Hornets' best scorer in Eric Gordon, causing him to only play 9 games overall last season, in the end basketball is about which team can put up more points than the other, and the Hornets had a paltry 89.6 points per game, second worst to the Bobcats', and a horrid Offensive Rating of 100.9, third worst in the league.

But this is where Davis and Rivers come in. While Anthony Davis may not immediately boost the Hornets' defense to an elite level, the Hornets could likely end up with a top 12 defensive rating, and he gives them a big man scoring option. On the other hand, while some would complain about drafting a guy playing the same position as Gordon, drafting for need rarely pans out (just look at Portland's woes with big men, or as a counterpoint the Sampson/Olajuwon tandem that got to the Finals two years after the latter was drafted, or the Duncan/Robinson tandem that won it all in Duncan's sophomore year). Rivers is a guy who has a winning attitude, and while some may wish for him to be a complete team player, he will put up points on the board.

I expect the Hornets to have a top 15 offense and defense if they want to make the playoffs, even though it's also likely Dell Demps goes for another lottery pick next year. Even if the Hornets don't make it, Coach Monty will keep the guys competitive all 48 minutes.

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