So, the New Orleans Hornets had a quiet free agency and trade period in the off-season. Nothing at all unusual happened and everything is as it should be. Going to be a challenge as aways to play Chris Paul - wait - what was that, Paul isn't around anymore?
Oh ... nevermind.
The particulars ...
Denver: 5-2 (3-0 at home)
Streak: Won 3
New Orleans: 2-4 (1-2 at home)
Streak: Lost 4
Denver: Nene (bruised left heel) is day-to-day.
New Orleans: Trevor Ariza (groin) is day to day, Eric Gordon (right knee) is out.
Television: Altitude 2 TV
Season Series: 2010-11: 2-2,
Opposition's Take: At the Hive
The new Hornets are a mystery to me. Can't really get a true handle on them since they no longer have Chris Paul and David West. West is no big deal to me because he always looked like the human embodiment of Ronald McDonald's best friend Grimace and played like someone punched him in the kidney. The trade of Paul has been discussed quite frequently and my thoughts about the Hornet's erstwhile "owner" (the league, specifically David Stern) remain the same - the whole situation smacked of conflict of interest and made no sense from the beginning. Yet, as they say, I digress.
Let's start with the key players who came over in the Paul trade from the Clippers. We have Eric Gordon, a shooting guard who I've always admired. Quite frankly I always believed that Gordon would develop into a good two guard for the Clippers. He is young, and has tremendous upside. He recently injured his right knee, experienced some swelling and will be out 2-3 weeks.
Chris Kaman is - how shall I put this - the most handsome man ever to put on a uniform in the history of uniforms. He has tremendous hair as well. That point aside he still has some great post moves, and was a player for a very long time that Nuggets fans wanted on their roster. Now that he's older and has a checkered injuries history, maybe not so much. He still is a threat to deal with on the inside.
As far as the Hornets remaining players. You have Emeka Okafor who is a good center with rebounding skills and a somewhat ok post game. There's also the enigma of Jarrett Jack who, when Paul was in NOLA, seemed to have his best games against the Nuggets. Trevor Ariza tweaked his groin (!) a few days back, but when he is motivated is a good defensive player and three point shooter (and dunker).
It's an interesting mix of players on the Hornets, coached by Monty Williams (who did a good job last season) who seems to get the most he can out of the players he has. Yet, I have no better read on the team. They seem to play hard, and that is good (despite losing their last four). Going on the road poses a challenge for any team, so let's see how these Hornets stack up with our Nuggets.
Nuggets of Wisdom
The Nuggets have themselves a nice three game win streak. Last game they took advantage of a very dysfunctional and chaotic Kings team (who fired their coach Paul Westphal Dec. 5th). Both the game against the Kings and the Milwaukee Bucks have come short handed with no Nene Hilario, This may continue against the Hornets, but in my opinion you don't play Nene until you are sure he is ready to come back. Kosta Koufos has come in and very capably stepped in and provided effective minutes. No reason to rush Nene back.
Meanwhile, Ty Lawson seems to be stepping into his own. This is a good thing. Ty has managed to stay aggressive all season (so far) and that was always his issue in the past. The Nuggets have managed to lead the league in "pace" while leading in defensive efficiency. I'm not one for advanced stats, but that seems to be an interesting dichotomy playing itself out so early in the season.
As ever, the Nuggets depth needs to show itself in these back to back games. It was great to see Kenneth Faried play on Wednesday night, and hopefully he sees more minutes in the next couple games. It would also be good to see more Corey Brewer, who has stayed steady and provided much needed energy to the Nuggets in his recent minutes.
Most of all, I'm looking forward to another Nuggets game! We have NBA basketball folks! Gotta celebrate.
Twitter: @jmorton78 https://twitter.com/#!/jmorton78