The 2011 premiere edition of “Fo’ with the Foes” — Philadunkia’s advanced scouting series which with the help of an accomplished journalist from around the NBA beat or blog world, previews upcoming 76ers opponents — features tonight’s opponent CP3 and the hard-to-figure-out New Orleans Hornets.
We don’t really like the 76ers chances of winning this eighth and final game of this holiday extended road trip. As we all know the 76ers sit at 3 wins and 4 L’s on the current west Coast swing, so to come home 4-4 sure would be nice.
However, a couple of things are working against the 7-6 tonight. Obviously we have been on the road for 8-games straight now, so fatigue will be a factor. Secondly, this is a big revenge game for the Hornets who were simply embarrassed by the Sixers in Philadelphia back in early December. Throw in the fact that since these teams last played, the Hornets (who have been a rollercoaster all year) are playing better basketball and the fact that the NOH are 13-4 at home and we don’t see the Sixers pulling out a W tonight.
For a little more insight into the Hornets team the Sixers face tonight, we turn to our man Michael McNamara @ hornets247.com to answer two questions on the NOH from us here at Philadunkia as well as provide us with two points of analysis on this New Orleans squad from an insider’s perspective.
Philadunkia : Can you explain this NOH team to us, because we can NOT figure Chris Paul and Co. out? They looked awful against us in December and they lose to teams like Minnesota, Indiana and Detroit, but also own recent wins over Utah, Atlanta and weakened Boston sqaud. So what’s the real story on this team?
Michael McNamara @ hornets247.com : The real story is the Hornets have two guys who show up every single game – Chris Paul and David West. The rest of the roster (numbers three through fifteen) could all be replaced by random NBA players drawn out of a lottery and the Hornets would be just as well off. Emeka Okafor has played well as of late, but there is not one other guy on this roster who you can count on in any way, shape, or form.
Marco Belinelli goes off against bad teams from time to time and then goes 0-6 in the next game. Trevor Ariza was perhaps the worst starting small forward in the entire league in the month of December- shooting 34% from the field and 15% from three. And yet, the worst part of this team has been the bench, which has just been abysmal on the road.
Because CP3 and West are such good players, the Hornets can still get victories if they get nothing from their wings – but to get nothing from your wings OR your bench – that’s when you lose games to bad teams. All those losses you mentioned came on the road, and the good wins as of late have come at home (except for Boston, who was down Rondo and Garnett).
CP3 and West will show up every night and Okafor seems to be a lock for a double- double lately. The Hornets can beat almost anyone if they get production from 2 or 3 other guys (like they did in their most recent game against Washington), they have a shot to win if one other guy steps up, but more often than not those guys have had to go at it alone lately, and that is why they are 9-13 over their last 22 games, with some of those losses coming against bad teams.
Philadunkia : There were rumors of a potential trade between the Sixers and Hornets earlier this year. What if anything are you still hearing about the NOH interest in trading for Andre Iguodala?
Michael McNamara @ hornets247.com :The Hornets would love to add Iggy, but the fact is that if Philly made him available, several other teams could and would make better offers. We don’t have any piece that we would be willing to trade that is better than Nic Batum, which Philly supposedly turned down. The best offer the Hornets could make would be Thornton, Ariza, and Marcus Banks expiring contract. Would Philly take that? Probably not. Thornton is a Meeks clone and an Ariza/Turner combo wouldn’t work.
The only way that deal goes down is if the Hornets agree to take Brand’s contract (they wouldn’t) or if they can get a 3rd team involved that would be willing to add another piece in exchange for some cap relief the Hornets can create with their big trade exception.
Two Points of Analysis from Michael McNamara @ hornets247.com :
1) David West has been very vocal with his frustrations since the NBA took over the New Orleans Hornets. He is going to be a free agent this summer and he says he wants to be in New Orleans, but it is hard to play for a franchise that doesn’t have an owner or any real direction.
You can’t really blame West. This will likely be his last lucrative NBA contract and at 31 he will be entering the latter half of his career. Would you want to sign a long term contract with an organization, not knowing what city they are going to be based in during the duration of your contract? David West is a loyal guy, but with all of these mitigating factors, I would not be surprised to see him walk in the offseason. And if he walks, this team takes a HUGE step back, and if that happens, you better believe that CP3 will demand a trade.
2) The next month is going to be huge for the Hornets. They have plenty of expiring contracts, a 9.7 million dollar TPE, and a few young prospects in Thornton and Pondexter- so if they want to go after a quality player, they might be able to get one. However, they are less than 4 million dollars from the luxury tax threshold. Would GM Dell Demps be able to convince the NBA that the going over the lux tax is in the best interest of the team?
Let’s say the Hornets are a one and done playoff team right now. Would Stephen Jackson get them to the second round? Even if he did, would that be worth the nearly 15 million he would cost when you factor in the luxury tax? These are the kind of questions you have to answer when the NBA is your boss.