The new team Charlotte team, our beloved Bobcats, take on the old Charlotte team, the New Orleans Hornets on Friday night. After seeing the Bobcats get a narrow win, get blown out, and put up a ton of points in an exciting loss (those exist?), there is hope for a win against a young Hornets squad.
Superstar rookie Anthony Davis could be back for this one (concussion), but that’s no lock, while the Bobcats will continue to play without shooting guard Gerald Henderson (foot).
Either way, these teams match up quite well, and this should make for a good, competitive game. I projected Charlotte to go 6-9 in the month of October, and with a win here they’d be 2-2 through four games, and would actually be on pace to do better than I originally thought.
Let’s break this one down and see who comes out a winner in Friday night’s game:
1. The Point – Edge: Bobcats
Grievis Vasquez leads the way for the Hornets, while he’s sometimes spelled by rookie Austin Rivers, who is clearly better suited for shooting guard. Vasquez is awkward and lanky, but he has the size and length to play good defense and actually somehow runs a decent offense. His shot is ugly and he doesn’t look special, but he does seem to get the job done. He’ll give Charlotte’s combo of Kemba Walker and Ramon Sessions at the point a bit of trouble from the defensive end, but ultimately I don’t think he can completely contain them by himself, and I don’t think he’ll be unstoppable on the other end. Walker is too explosive of a scorer and Sessions has more experience and stability. Vasquez is alone at the point for the most part, and I don’t see him winning this battle.
2. The Wings – Edge: Tie
Sessions and Rivers will likely be playing mostly at shooting guard as Eric Gordon and Gerald Henderson continue to miss time for both teams. Rivers hasn’t found his shot (not even close), so this one is no contest. When you add the veteran Ben Gordon in the mix, the battle at shooting guard just gets laughable.
The Hornets do have the edge at small forward, as Al-Farouq-Aminu has been very good so far this year and the versatile Ryan Anderson can slide around from the three spot to the four, and be extremely effective at both. Charlotte is still rolling with rookie Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who has flashes some potential but isn’t where he needs to be yet and is pretty much all they have at that position right now.
3. The Bigs – Edge: Hornets
If Anthony Davis plays in this game, you have to give the edge to the Hornets here. He already has showed he has a consistent jumper and will change games with his defensive ability. Add in Ryan Anderson’s rebounding and three-point shooting, plus the quality inside presences of Robin Lopez and Jason Smith, and the Hornets have a very underrated crew of big men.
Charlotte isn’t a cast of slouches, though. Byron Mullens has really turned into an offensive difference-maker, as he can shoot the ball from anywhere, and will also hit the boards very well at times. He’s backed by defensive-minded players like Bismack Biyombo, Tyrus Thomas and Brendan Haywood. All those guys are solid, but none consistently jump out from the page, however.
4. The Coach – Edge: Hornets
Monty Williams vs. Mike Dunlap. I think we’re starting to slowly see that Dunlap does a pretty good job of sizing up the opponent and exploiting matchups. On top of that, he knows when to change the pace of the game, and whether to slow it down and have a controlled offense, or when to run n’ gun and let it fly. It’s only been three games, but I like the command I’m seeing so far and there is potential for him to show he was a great hire.
On the flip-side, I’m a fan of Monty Williams. He’s pretty underrated and has a really random group of young guys fighting hard in every game. I have a feeling that this Hornets team will be around and annoying everyone for the majority of the year. And the best part is he’s doing this all without an elite point guard, no Eric Gordon, and two rookies who play a good amount of minutes. Williams has the edge in experience obviously, and I think he’s the better coach right now, too.
5. The Verdict
While New Orleans holds the edge in most of the battles above, I actually think the Bobcats have a great chance at taking this game. The areas where New Orleans have the advantage over Charlotte are pretty narrow or evenly matched, and things get even more interesting in terms of competitiveness if Davis isn’t a go for the Hornets.
However, even if he plays, I like the Bobcats to take this one, 90-88. New Orleans just doesn’t have the consistency in their guard play to matchup with the Bobcats right now, while Charlotte’s bigs are good enough to give New Orleans a run for their money.