The visiting New Orleans Hornets hit the AAC tonight, comprised of several new faces, as has been the case with the Mavericks and many of their preseason opponents. The Mavs will need a shot of adrenalin to cope with not only missing Dirk Nowitzki but also a second night without leading scorer and rebounder Chris Kaman.
Projected starter and 2011-2012 scoring leader Eric Gordon is out with a knee injury and the next two top scorers, Jarrett Jack and Chris Kaman are gone…(where did Kaman end up again?) But the Hornets are a very young team highlighting three draft picks and Ryan Anderson, acquired during the offseason.
Up front, Kentucky’s Anthony Davis, the #1 pick in the 2012 draft, is considered to be a sure-fire superstar who is and efficient scorer and excellent defensive player as well, having let the NCAA in blocked shots last year with a whopping 4.7 bpg. He is leading the Hornets in preseason averaging 15.3 points and 8.3 rebounds. Another lottery pick in the backcourt, Duke’s Austin Rivers was the #10 pick in the draft and is also in the starting lineup. Rivers of course is the son of former NBA point guard and current Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers.
As a team, the Hornets started 3-0 and have since dropped two in a row. Looking at the team stats one would instantly assume they are struggling in the preseason as they are shooting a woeful 38.6% from the field and 28.8% from behind the arc. Sound familiar? Oh, that was kinda like the Mavericks in the Hawks game! #oops
Coincidentally, the Hornets are also coming off a blowout loss to the Hawks where they fell by an even bigger margin than Dallas—a whopping 29 points after a previous blowout loss of 20 points to the Houston Rockets.
Despite the last two games the Hornets will likely test the Mavericks tonight with a couple of respectful offensive weapons and a great deal of youth and athleticism. While the Hornets brought in Robin Lopez to shore up the center position alongside Davis and he is a better defender than his brother, they should still be somewhat vulnerable on the inside but the Mavericks are lacking their best weapons for exploiting that.
All in all, this should be just another good game for practice with the hope that the Mavericks will stop turning the ball over and play sound fundamental defense…oh, and make a few more shots too.