Leading up to the start of the 2014 NBA season, Swarm and Sting will be pitting the Hornets head to head with every team in the Association every Tuesday and Thursday. In this edition, we match the Hornets up with the Detroit Pistons.
2013-14 Series: Charlotte swept Detroit, 3-0.
Projected Starting Match-Ups:
This is a match-up between two of the most exciting young point guards in the NBA. Kemba Walker is a better scorer than Brandon Jennings, but Jennings has the slight edge in passing and defense. These two produced fun match-ups last year, both scoring over 20 PPG against each other in each game they played, and I expect the same from the two this year. Since this one’s a true toss-up, and this is a Charlotte Hornets site, I will give the slightest possible advantage to Kemba Walker, although this really is a coin-flip for me.
ADVANTAGE: Kemba Walker
Jodie Meeks comes to Detroit from the Los Angeles Lakers, and he should assume the starting role at the 2 for the Pistons. Meeks is a slightly better scorer than Stephenson, but Stephenson is a much better all-around player. Lance is adept at filling the stat sheet in numerous ways, and more than doubles Meeks in both rebounds and assists. He should fairly easily take the advantage in this match-up.
ADVANTAGE: Lance Stephenson
Josh Smith is something of an enigma at forward, and has been for the majority of his career. He has always had breakout potential as the next big Eastern Conference star, dating back to his days with the Atlanta Hawks, yet for reasons unknown, he settles for outside shooting and inconsistent scoring. That being said, he’s simply has better production than the Hornets’ Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. MKG is a great defender, and he shouldn’t be stretched out like most defenders of Josh Smith, but I can’t envision MKG shutting Smith down.
ADVANTAGE: Josh Smith
This match-up comes, assuming that Greg Monroe in fact stays with Detroit after reportedly signing a one-year qualifying offer. Monroe proved to be a highly valuable asset for Detroit in 2014, starting in 82 games and putting up solid numbers across the board. Cody Zeller still has a lot to prove at the 4 for the Hornets, and I just can’t pick him against one of the anchors of this Pistons team.
ADVANTAGE: Greg Monroe
Andre Drummond is an excellent pure center, a rebounding and blocking machine, and a tough defensive match-up for Al Jefferson. That being said, Jefferson has found ways to score against the stingiest of defenses, including relentless double-teams, which should give him the slight advantage when the Hornets have the ball. Luckily for Jefferson, his own defensive deficiencies can be masked by Andre Drummond’s lacking offensive production, which means that the majority of the action between these two should be on the Hornets’ end of the floor.
ADVANTAGE: Al Jefferson
Key Reserves (Detroit): Kyle Singler, Jonas Jerebko, DJ Augustin, Will Bynum, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Aaron Gray
Key Reserves (Charlotte): Gerald Henderson, Brian Roberts, Noah Vonleh, Marvin Williams, Jeff Taylor, Gary Neal, PJ Hairston, Bismack Biyambo.
ADVANTAGE: Charlotte. Kyle Singler has developed into a nice back-up for the Pistons, DJ Augustin is a familiar face for the Hornets, and the Pistons added Spencer Dinwiddie via the NBA Draft, but their bench just isn’t as talented, or deep, as the Hornets’. Detroit has plenty of guards, but quantity does not necessarily equal quality in this situation. Charlotte has three potential starters on their bench in Gerald Henderson, Noah Vonleh, and Marvin Williams, and I just can’t say that about the Pistons bench.
Rookies (Detroit): Spencer Dinwiddie
Rookies (Charlotte): Noah Vonleh, PJ Hairston
ADVANTAGE: Charlotte. Spencer Dinwiddie has by far and away the best name of anybody in the 2014 NBA Draft, but Charlotte simply has two better players from this year’s draft. Dinwiddie should provide relief for Brandon Jennings, but Noah Vonleh could possibly start later in the season, and PJ Hairston is just as deadly of a shooter from deep as Dinwiddie.
FINAL VERDICT: The Charlotte Bobcats swept the Detroit Pistons last year, and I expect similar results from the Charlotte Hornets this year. The Hornets are a deeper team, they match Detroit’s starting five well, and the young Hornets should be primed to take advantage of this match-up. Detroit is in the middle of a lengthy re-build, and while they most likely won’t make the postseason this year, they can improve their team in the next five years if they can either retain Greg Monroe and build pieces around him, or trade Monroe for adequate players and go full re-boot.
PREDICTION: Charlotte sweeps Detroit, 4-0.