On the Hornets: At The Hive / Hornets 247 / NOLA / Hornets.com
Bogut feeling better. Good news: as Jacob noted in the Pacers recap, Bogut tweeted that he's feeling better and expects to play tonight after missing last night's game with a migraine.
Good note: I feel better and will suit up tonight.Still find it funny that ppl dont realise theres a diff between headaches and migraines.
Break up the Hornets! New Orleans has played five playoff teams from a year ago and they've won five times, including last night's 96-93 home win over the Evil Empire and their opening night win over the Bucks. So I guess the good news is that they're ripe for a letdown, eh?
We all know everything starts with Chris Paul and David West, though last night they also got a monster effort from the oft-forgotten Emeka Okafor (12/13 fg, 26 pts, 13 rebounds). That's the same Okafor who didn't take a single shot in 26 minutes against Andrew Bogut on opening night, though since then the former UConn stud has been nothing if not efficient, making 74% of his shots and blocking nearly three shots per game. It's been a weird career for Okafor, who's gone from 04/05 ROY (over the younger Dwight Howard) to a pure defensive specialist that Charlotte overpaid and then quickly dumped on the Hornets. Perhaps it was predictable: even when he was 15 ppg-type with the Bobs, he was never an efficient scorer and never showed significant improvement either. Being the second overall pick on an expansion team also has a funny way of getting you more touches than you deserve, eh?
Defending the bigs. I doubt Okafor goes scoreless again tonight, but it's worth noting that starting centers (Okafor, Darko, Mohammed, Camby, and Jermaine O'Neal) have scored a total of 12 points on 4/17 fg in Andrew Bogut's five games. None of those guys are great offensive players, but damn. And while Roy Hibbert managed 14 against the Bogut-less Bucks last night, he shot just 4/11 and turned it over six times.
Tale of two rebounds. Both teams enter the game with similar rebounding profiles: horrible on the offensive glass, excellent on the defensive end. New Orleans is 29th in offensive rebound rate (21.3%) and third in defensive rebound rate (77.0%). Meanwhile, the Bucks are 23rd offensively (23.8%) and second defensively (77.3%), similar to where they were a year ago.
D'ing up.The Bucks' defensive intensity thus far hasn't been as consistent as Scott Skiles would probably like, though the two games in Boston and Indiana were certainly more promising in that regard. Then again, our standards are rather high, as evidenced by the fact that we're hemming and hawing about a defense that is fifth in the NBA in efficiency through six games. But am I the only one who feels like the Bucks are also getting a bit lucky in terms of their opponents' shooting? It doesn't seem like the Bucks have run into too many hot-shooting opponents thus far, though that's a hard hunch to test empirically.
One stat that might lend some insight is expected effective field goal percentage (OXeFG%), which Dan mentioned last week. Basically the idea is that OXeFG% takes league average shooting percentages by location type and applies them to the actual distribution of shot types a team has allowed, thus measuring how well a team forces opponents to shoot from less favorable locations. A good defense will both force opponents into tougher types of shots (read: more long twos, less dunks) as well as do a better job of forcing misses within each category of shot type. The Bucks thus far are worse than average in terms of OXeFG% (49.4%) but notably better than average in terms of actual eFG% allowed (47.0%), so opponents have been taking shots from relatively good positions on the court but haven't been converting. Good defensive teams tend to be good in both departments--the Bucks were eighth in both last year--and unless you have plenty of long defenders who can challenge shots you're not likely to sustain a much better actual eFG% vs. expected.
At the rim. The Bucks' finishing around the hoop is something we're keeping a close eye on, and the bad news is that the Bucks are once again near the bottom of the league with a 54.9% finishing rate around the rim. Some good news? Brandon Jennings has thus far been dramatically improved, both shooting more around the rim (4.2 fga vs. 3.5 fga a year ago) and converting at a much higher rate (60% vs. 43% last year). He's also been better inside 10 feet (57% vs. 38%) and is attempting two more free throws per game, but all of those improvements have been offset by ice-cold shooting outside 10 feet (4/21 on longer twos, 6/23 threes).