Tonight the winless Lakers face off against the newly christened Charlotte Hornets (formerly known as the Bobcats). The Hornets are 3-3 so far this season and are coming off a recent overtime win against the Bucks. Last year this Hornets team made the playoffs but were swept out of the first round. They are hoping to build on this and could potentially make some noise in the wide open and generally weak Eastern Conference. Meanwhile the Lakers are still searching for their first win of the season. Let’s jump into the analysis to see how these two teams match-up.
Frontcourt: Al Jefferson is an overlooked player who may actually be the most talented scoring center in the NBA. He is averaging 22.7 points this year on 50.4% shooting. His size will be tough for the Lakers to deal with and he has a plethora of post moves. Jefferson is coming off of a 34 point game and will certainly test the Lakers frontcourt tonight. Marvin Williams starts at the four and he’s been woefully inconsistent. He never lived up to his lofty draft expectations, but he’s serviceable as a role player.
Former number two overall pick, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (MKG) is starting to realize his potential. MKG changed his shooting stroke this off season and the results have been positive thus far. He’s averaging 11 points per game on 68.2% shooting. MKG Is a versatile player who can defend multiple positions and he may even get a chance to defend Kobe and give him a different look.
Backcourt: The Hornets inked Lance Stephenson to a three-year, $27 million deal this offseason. Stephenson is coming off a career year with the Pacers, but he became best known for his on the court ear blowing antics. In all seriousness Stephenson is a versatile player and a ferocious defender. He will get first dibs at guarding Kobe tonight. Fortunately for Kobe, Stephenson has been horrible on offense this year. He’s only averaging 8.3 points per game on a dismal 31.7% shooting.
Kemba Walker rounds out the Hornet’s roster. The diminutive point guard has given the Lakers trouble in the past. He has recorded averages of 20.5 points and 7.3 assists in four games against the Lakers throughout his career. The Lakers guards will need to do their best to stay in front of Kemba and not let him penetrate the lane.
Keys to Victory:
More Balanced Offense: The Lakers are struggling in total team offense. They have a 46.1% effective field goal percentage which is in the bottom rung of the NBA. Someone other than Kobe needs to step up and help generate some offense. Some of the issue is Kobe’s penchant for shooting. He leads the NBA with 24.4 field goals attempted per game. But he’s only converting on 40.2% of those attempts which is not good. Supposedly Byron Scott is instituting the Princeton style offense with the Lakers which should help create balance. So far the opposite has been true.
Jeremy/Kobe Synergy: Jeremy and Kobe haven’t been able to work together well on offense. Combined they are turning the ball over nearly seven times per game. When either player gets the ball, the other player is rarely a factor in the play. Thus, the defense can key in on the ball handler and force a turnover. Jeremy and Kobe need to develop some synergy and work together to help balance the offensive attack.
Improved Defense: Plain and simple, the Lakers are the worst defensive team in the NBA. They’re giving up 117.4 points per 100 possessions which is good for last place by an astounding six point margin. In case you’re wondering the second worst team is the Utah Jazz. It should come as no surprise that the Lakers have allowed opponents an effective field goal of 56.4% – last place in the NBA. Clearly the Lakers have issues on defense and it seems that things have gotten worse under Byron Scott. If the Lakers can’t improve their defense then it might be a long time until we see them register their first win.
Heading into tonight’s game, the Lakers are 3-point underdogs against the Hornets according to Sportsbook.ag.
Charlotte Hornets (3-3) at Los Angeles Lakers (0-5)
6:30 PM PST, November 9, 2014
Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA
TV: TWC SN
Radio: 710 ESPN (English) / 1330 ESPN (Spanish)
Hornets Projected Starting Line-up
PG: Kemba Walker
SG: Lance Stephenson
SF: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
PF: Marvin Williams
C: Al Jefferson
Key Reserves: PG: Gary Neal C: Cody Zeller SG: Gerald Henderson
Lakers Projected Starting Lineup
PG: Jeremy Lin
SG: Kobe Bryant
SF: Wesley Johnson
PF: Carlos Boozer
C: Jordan Hill
Lakers Practice Report-Team Needs To Stop Watching Kobe