Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Preseason Review. Real Season Preview.

It's been a while, kids. Let's get it started.

The New Orleans Hornets went 7-0 in exhibition play. Though I won't read too much into that record, I am excited about how they won those seven games. They beat their opponents by a whopping 15.0 points per game. And, in five games, held the other team to fewer than 85 points. The Hornets were running on all cylinders on offense and defense. And they seemed like the definition of "team chemistry."

Hear me out. During the offseason, Tyson and Coach Scott announced their desire to add a mid-range jumper to the big man's offensive repertoire. And it was evident in many preseason games, where Tyson attempted (and made) a decent number of shots from that range. But I'm worried that moving Tyson away from the basket for those jumpers might have a negative impact on a different aspect of his game: offensive rebounding. In 2006-07 and in 2007-08, Tyson was the league leader in ORPG (4.4 and 4.1 per game, respectively). In the preseason matches where Ty played at least 20 minutes, he averaged only 2.25 ORPG. This might turn out to be an unfounded concern. We might just see The Chairman of the Boards flexing the ability to hit the mid-range shots, as opposed to relying on that spot. I just really wouldn't want to see him sacrifice one (extremely dominant) aspect of his game in favor of developing another one that the team doesn't need quite so badly.

Free throws. Specifically, from our front court. Through the seven games, our top big men (D-West, Ty, Ely, Hilt) combined to go 51-of-78 from the charity stripe. That's just a tick above 65%. Ugh. C'mon, fellas! They're free! You just have to throw the ball! The team as a whole didn't do so poorly, but there was the game against the Spurs where everybody forgot their fundamentals and posted a pretty discouraging 64% from the line. The bright side of this equation is the fact that the entire team posted a night with 80% shooting against the Pacers. I'm willing to bet the arena noise was much less significant in Indianapolis. That could have something to do with it.

Y'know what? I'm just gonna jump straight to playoff predictions.

1) Boston Celtics
2) Cleveland Cavaliers
3) Orlando Magic
4) Detroit Pistons
5) Toronto Raptors
6) Philadelphia 76ers
7) Miami Heat
8) Washington Wizards

1) Los Angeles Lakers
2) New Orleans Hornets
3) Utah Jazz
4) San Antonio Spurs
5) Houston Rockets
6) Phoenix Suns
7) Portland Trailblazers
8) Dallas Mavericks

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