As we get ready to start the playoffs, I thought I'd take a look at each of the Hornets' starters and point out one weakness of theirs that I've noticed. For the most part, these weaknesses are easily fixable, and making small changes to their game would yield a huge benefit for the playoffs.
Chris Paul, PG- get more aggressive
We saw a bit of this in the Suns game, but it's been strangely lacking so far this season. I remember back in the 08-09 season, it seemed like CP3 would score 25-30 points every night, and almost all of them would come in the second half. I haven't felt that same intensity / degree of domination this season. CP is a true distributor, and I love how he gets all of his teammates involved throughout the game. However, once the 4th quarter comes around, I want to see the old CP3 cutting through the opposing team's D, hitting circus shots, and going to the foul line every other time down the line.
Marco Belinelli, SG- rebounding
The obvious choice here would be more consistent three point shooting, which would open up the Hornets offense and really take our team to another dimension. Unfortunately, that's not something that can be improved overnight (and that's what this article is focusing on). His rebounding, on the other hand, can. I know he's not exactly designed to grab boards, but he's one of the worst rebounding shooting guards in the game. As a matter of fact, his rebounding rate would be considered sub-par for a point guard. And it's not like he's undersized; he's 6'5", which is a bit above average for a SG. Man up, put a body on your man, and grab some boards Marco. The Hornets have had trouble all season keeping their opponents of the defensive glass, and while Marco rebounding more wouldn't solve everything, it would be a nice start.
Trevor Ariza, SF- stop shooting jump shots
Ever heard of the phrase "Ball don't lie?" Apparently, Trevor hasn't. A 32% career 3 point shooter, Trevor continues to jack up threes night in and night out. He actually has had games recently where he has airballed more threes than he's made. It's bad, and getting worse- he's shooting 30% from the 3 point line this season, but despite shooting worse than his career average, he has almost doubled his three point attempts per game. Trevor, say it with me "I will stop jacking up threes and instead use my athleticism to cut and drive to the basket." Now, at this point, you might be saying, "Well Andrew, that's just 3 pointers, why can't Ariza keep normal jump shots?" Because he's terrible at those too! Ariza's true shooting percentage is the fifth worst of all small forwards in the game. In other words, he's not good at shooting anything!!! Again, just drive to the hole Ariza, and let someone else shoot the ball!
David West- PF - pass out of double teams
(Note, I started writing this before DWest tore his ACL. I'll put an update on Carl Landry soon.).
I've noticed a disturbing trend: teams are sending WAAAY more double teams to DWest lately. Specifically, when he gets the ball in the low post and starts his "Back the opponent down for three dribbles before spinning towards the center of the court and launching a jump shot move" teams have started sending double teams at him pretty consistently. I think opponents have noticed on tape that he losses court awareness when he enters that move. If David can keep his head about him when he enters that move, he can pass out of the double team and the Hornets can get some open jump shots.
Emeka Okafor, Center- learn how to set screens
Next time you watch a Hornets game, watch Oak set a screen for someone. No, seriously, watch him closely. It never fails- he NEVER sets his feet before making contact with his man. He's always still moving when he sets the screen, and what's more, he never squarely sets the screen. Instead, he always gets them with a kind of glancing, hip to hip blow. Know what that's called? A moving screen! That's a foul, and Oak's fortunate the refs don't call it every time. However, it's also an ineffective screen that fails to create much separation between the person he's setting the screen for and their defender. This would be bad normally, but it's even worse because he plays with Chris Paul, that master of the screen and role. Start setting proper screens and watch as the whole team's offensive efficiency sores as CP3 slices through the opposing defense.