Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sport
The Wizards and Hornets took two different paths to building off of last year's momentum, but neither has had much success so far this season.
Everything you need to know about tonight's Wizards vs. Hornets game.
Where, When, and What Channel: The game will start at 8 p.m. at the New Orleans Arena. You can watch it on Comcast SportsNet.
Why You Should Care: The Wizards and Hornets entered the offseason at nearly identical points. Despite finishing with the second and third worst records in the NBA last season, respectively, both teams ended their years on high notes. The Wizards won their last six and made the Wizards look like a legitimate team with Nene in the lineup. The Hornets won six of their last nine as Eric Gordon finally returned to the lineup and showed flashes of the max player he was paid to be this summer.
During the summer, the Wizards and Hornets chose to take different paths to building on their late season when they agreed on a deal that would send Rashard Lewis to New Orleans for Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza. The Hornets opted for a rebuild that embraced cap space they used to acquire Ryan Anderson and Robin Lopez, among others, to make the Hornets a playoff contender as they built around Gordon, Anthony Davis and Austin Rivers. The Wizards chose to take the certainty of Okafor and Ariza's veteran presence, rather than swinging and missing in free agency, as they tried to put a playoff contender around John Wall, Nene and Bradley Beal.
So far, neither team has had much success with their plans. Even though you can make a pretty strong case the Hornets won the trade, they don't have much to show for it yet. Much like the Wizards, the Hornets have been hampered with injuries. Gordon has missed the entire season and Anthony Davis has only played in six games. Despite taking two different paths to get better, neither team has much to show for their efforts so far. But a win tonight for either side would at least provide some hope they're headed in the right direction once their stars return.
What They Do Well: The Hornets are fifth in the NBA from beyond the arc, shooting 39.5 percent from deep so far this year. Amazingly, only two Hornets, Anderson and Xavier Henry (3 for 3 on the season) are shooting a higher average from three than the team as a whole. That should give you an idea of just how much of the Hornets' success from deep is tied to Anderson. Still, the Wizards need to respect Brian Roberts, Greivis Vasquez and of course, Roger Mason.
What They Do Poorly: Anthony Davis has been out for most of the year, and as a result, the Hornets have really taken it on the chin defensively. They have the worst defensive rating in the league. Surprisingly, it's not because they can't protect the paint. Even with Davis out for most of the season, the Hornets are right around the league average in allowing points in the paint. The problem is threes. Only three teams allow more three point attempts per game than the Hornets, and all three do so while holding teams to at or below average shooting percentages. Meanwhile, the Hornets are allowing opposing teams to make 41.5 percent of their threes, the highest mark in the league. Opposing teams are taking and making with ease against the Hornets this season.
How the Wizards Match Up With Them: Tonight should be interesting. Both teams are licking their chops at the idea of getting to redeem themselves in some sense. The Wizards will be looking to boost their offensive credibility against the leagues worst defense, and the Hornets will be looking to boost their defensive credibility against the league's worst offense. Not sure how that will work tonight, but hopefully it doesn't turn into some sort of a supernova event where the universe collapses upon itself.
At the end of the day, it all comes down to how the Wizards handle point guard duties with A.J. Price on the shelf. For the time being, it looks like Shaun Livingston and Jordan Crawford will be the primary ballhandlers. The good news is that they get a bit of soft landing against the Hornets, who have struggled to defend guards all season. That said, we're still talking about Shaun Livingston and Jordan Crawford. While it wouldn't be surprising to see them play well tonight as they try to prove their worth, it probably won't lead to anything sustainable beyond tonight.
Oh, and it looks like Anthony Davis is playing tonight. Even though he'll be coming off the bench, that should remove any doubt about tonight's outcome.