Tonight we witnessed, or should I say for the vast majority, heard the ushering of a new era in New Orleans. Despite the lack of television coverage, Hornets nation was abuzz with the performances by all of our new additions to the team. Well almost. The only significant lull of the night was caused by Monty Williams attempting to go small at the start of the 2nd quarter with Hakim Warrick masquerading as the team's center. Since it's preseason, let's chalk this up to trial and error.
1) Our 2012 rookies all contributed positively in the win. Actually that's a bit of an understatement. Anthony Davis (22 pts, 9 reb, 1 blk), Austin Rivers (13 pts, 4 reb, 3 ast, 2 stl) and Darius Miller (8 pts, 1 stl) played like seasoned veterans. In their combined 70+ minutes of game action they posted ZERO turnovers. To the lucky few onlookers, all three players were reportedly much more comfortable on the court. No kidding!
2) Robin Lopez put up a monstrous line: 18 pts (on 8-12 from the field and 2-3 from the line), 13 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals and 3 blocks in 33 minutes of action. He got off to a very fast start scoring the first two buckets for the team (including that patented hook) and never looked back. I suppose in just two games one can say we've already seen the best and worst out of our starting center.
3) Tonight, Ryan Anderson played the 6th man role to a tee. In a shade under 23 minutes, he poured in 15 points (all from outside the arc) and chipped in 3 rebounds and a block. In the game thread, Fench mentioned how nice it is to finally have an elite perimeter shooter. Right you are sir! The only visible complaint: let's just hope these 2 games aren't indicative of the number of minutes this very good win producer is going to average in the regular season.
1) The free-throw shooting. 14-26 (53.8%). Ugh. Shooting the ball this poorly from the line will undoubtedly cost us future wins. Let's hope the old adage, "nowhere to go but up," rings true.
2) The supposed vets, Roger Mason and Hakim Warrick, played like rookies. In 22 minutes, they combined for 2 points, bricking shots and freethrows without contributing anything else on the floor. While most of us don't have any expectations for Warrick, Mason will at times be relied on to provide a Willie Green presence on the floor. Hopefully this was just an aberration.
3) Greivis Vasquez. Considering how well the team played, I am nitpicking a bit as the General did provide 11 assists and 6 rebounds with only 2 turnovers. However, as a starter, it's important that he at least pose an average offensive threat. Future poor shooting performances will almost certainly result in opposing defenses playing off of him thus rendering his best attribute (passing) less effective.
With tonight's performance, a clear rotation is beginning to take shape. Vasquez, Gordon (knock on wood), Aminu, Davis and Lopez to start and good minutes for Ryan Anderson, Austin Rivers, Jason Smith, Roger Mason and Brian Roberts off the bench. It's a very young team and we've already witnessed the good (tonight) along with the very bad (Mexico), but it offers infinitely more hope than last year's team. Yes, unfortunately we can't play the Bobcats every night, but with Monty Williams in control of a more talented bunch, I'm hoping we go on to prove naysayers like Peter Vecsey wrong.
Even If Monty Williams gets the most out of this array--which is what makes him special--Hornets will be lucky to win 30 games.