To say the Hornets have stumbled out of the gates is something of an understatement. We've been handled by the Hawks, Lakers, and Rockets thus far. It's a long season, and things will surely start to even out a little as we get into December and January. That said, this team could use a little shake up. Some thoughts on our problems and some potential solutions:
He's one of the game's best pure shooters, nobody denies that. His biggest challenge is facing off against physical opponents. We've seen tough defenders throw him off time and time again- Bruce Bowen blasted him to smithereens in the playoffs last year, and Ron Artest did it again on Saturday. All that leads me to postulate: why not start James Posey against the more physical perimeter defenders?
Posey and Peja actually have comparable three point shooting figures. The difference is that Posey is a lot more physical in getting space to shoot his threes. Off the ball, he will physically shove off defenders to make space for himself and get open. One of Peja's biggest problems is that if he doesn't get going early on, he likely won't be involved in the game. Shut him down in the 1st quarter, and you've virtually taken him out of the remaining 3 quarters. Having him come off the bench against the Artests of the world would be one way to circumvent that. As a secondary advantage, the Hornets would also be able to put Posey on the other team's best player from the opening whistle. On the surface, this seems like it could work.
I'm not gonna lie, I love the new look of the bench. I was a staunch Mike James supporter, but the athleticism of a Brown/Butler/Wright/Posey combination has me drooling. That said, this bunch simply can not play offense. They just can't. It's a bunch of 6'7" dudes hoisting 20 footers (and one 6'11" guy looking totally lost).
The one missing piece is penetration. You can have all the shooters in the world, but unless somebody can collapse the defense in the middle, those shooters will never get clean looks. Byron Scott has decided to go with Devin Brown as the primary penetrator. Based on his performance so far, that will not work. Brown is good at getting to the hoop when he catches a pass and is allowed to take a quick first step past his defender. When he has to dribble the ball up, initiate the offense, and then blow by his defender, it's a totally different story. On top of that, he has a pretty polished off the ball game. By making him the primary ball handler, that aspect of his game is diminished.
Making Posey a point forward isn't the answer either. It worked against Portland because they don't have any terrific on the ball defenders. Posey as the primary ball handler would be suicide versus a Marion or a Kirilenko. My solution would be letting Julian handle the ball. Byron Scott attracted a lot of attention in the offseason by professing his desire to groom Julian as CP3's backup. Why not try it out? It can't end much worse than the status quo. Wright is certainly more likely to beat a defender off the dribble than is Devin Brown.
Run it. Run it often. Burning Yao/Landry/Hayes with it should give us the confidence to try it against anyone. It was conspicuously missing in the first few games, but the Hornets have to come back to the CCC.
Any Hornet observer could have told you all about David West's most annoying flaw last season: catching an open pass, half pump faking, and neither committing fully to the drive or the shot. West seemed to conquer that flaw as the season wore on, and it was nonexistent in the playoffs. Then something happened in the off season, and it's gotten worse than ever. At least 4-5 times a game now, he'll pass on a totally wide open shot and do nothing with the play. Shoot it! Please shoot it!
I really, really hope someone on the Hornets' staff or roster is aware of this. All the other things on this list are pretty much random speculation on my part. But this is one the Hornets have to be aware of... right? Shoot the ball, David West!