Here at Blue Man Hoop, we’re gearing up for the 2012-13 season by looking around the NBA to see how each team matches up with the Golden State Warriors. We’ll give you an overview of each opponent, a matchup or stat to watch and a measure of just how big a threat each opposing squad represents for the Dubs. Be sure to check out the other previews we’ve done so far on Blue Man Hoop: Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, Charlotte Bobcats, Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers, Dallas Mavericks, Denver Nuggets, Detroit Pistons, Houston Rockets, Indiana Pacers, L.A. Clippers, L.A. Lakers, Memphis Grizzlies, Miami Heat, Milwaukee Bucks, Minnesota Timberwolves.
New Orleans Hornets Overview
The New Orleans Hornets will feature a host of new faces this season. Chief among them will be No. 1 overall selection Anthony Davis, who figures (in my opinion, at least) to be a top-flight NBA big man and elite defensive force right away. Plus, he’s a ridiculously efficient offensive player with plenty of room to grow. On his own, Davis totally reforms the Hornets’ future, making them fringe playoff threat this year.
But Davis won’t have to do everything himself.
Eric Gordon, whom the Hornets maxed out to keep, is supposedly healthy and slotted to start at shooting guard. Gordon’s been right on the cusp of being an All-Star already, but at just 23 years old, his return to health and likelihood of big minutes could easily propel him into the league’s upper tier of back court scorers. He and Davis give the Hornets a terrific (and young) one-two punch.
New Orleans also signed one of the league’s most underrated shooters in Ryan Anderson. He’ll stretch the floor with his 39-percent three-point stroke, which’ll open driving lanes for Gordon and rookie Austin Rivers. Anderson also averaged nearly eight rebounds per game last year, so in addition to his solid shooting, he’ll do his part to help Davis out on the boards.
The Hornets aren’t particularly deep, with Rivers, Robin Lopez and Xavier Henry expected to play most of the reserve minutes, but they’ve got three very good NBA starters.
Part of the reason New Orleans lacks a little depth—which is the main advantage the Warriors have over the Hornets—is because Golden State snatched up two players who started for them last year. Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry have switched allegiances and should give the Dubs one of the NBA’s deepest benches.
If the Hornets suffer an injury to any one of their “key three,” feel free to write them off. On the other hand, the Warriors can survive an injury or two (as long as those two aren’t Bogut and Curry) because of their improved supply of bench help.
The Hornets are in the early stages of building a perennial playoff team, but until they surround their core with more capable role players, the Warriors should be able to outpace them in the Western Conference playoff race. Nonetheless, New Orleans is definitely on the road to becoming a very nice squad. They’re just not there yet.
According to hoopdata.com, the Warriors allowed the NBA’s third-highest three-point field-goal percentage last year. Opponents lit it up from beyond the arc at a 36.5 percent clip. With Anderson and Gordon both being very capable shooters from distance, the Warriors will have to be mindful of defending at the three-point line. That’ll free up Davis inside, but he’s not yet a player who can dominate in the post. The Warriors can live with Davis operating offensively, but they can’t let Anderson and Gordon bomb away from the perimeter.
Threat Level: 6/10
The Hornets need another piece or two around Davis before they’re a serious threat. But just by drafting Davis and getting a healthy Gordon back, they’ve pulled themselves out of the Western Conference’s basement. If absolutely everything works out for them, they might sniff the eighth playoff spot. More likely, they’ll struggle through some growing pains, improve their record but fall back into the late lottery.