How the Charlotte Hornets Match Up Against: The Atlanta Hawks


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 Atlanta Hawks.

2013-14 Series:  Atlanta won the series, 3-1.

Projected Starting Match-Ups:

PG:  Kemba Walker (17.7 PPG, 1.2 SPG, 6.1 APG) vs.  Jeff Teague (16.5 PPG, 1.1 SPG, 6.7 APG)

This is a tight match-up between two high scoring point guards, both of whom can also strip ballhandlers and dish to teammates.  Jeff Teague is a solid 3-point threat, shooting a decent 33% beyond the arc, while also making 95% of his free throws last season.  These are assets that separate the “good” point guards from the “very good” point guards, as Teague’s shooting ability forces defenders to guard him tight, and if he’s fouled, he can make them pay at the charity stripe.  Kemba Walker is a proficient slasher, excellent at getting to the rim and scoring up close.  He can also hit midrange shots, especially with his filthy stepback.  This is a tight match-up, and after looking at how these two have performed against each other in games past, I have to give the edge to Jeff Teague.  In last year’s series, Jeff Teague outscored Kemba Walker, and did a much better job of getting the ball into the hands of teammates who could score.  It’s close, but Teague just slightly gets the advantage.

ADVANTAGE:  Jeff Teague

SG:  Lance Stephenson (13.8 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 4.6 APG) vs.  Kyle Korver (12.0 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 2.9 APG)

This is a clash of styles, as Kyle Korver, elite three point shooter, takes on Lance Stephenson, transition specialist.  It’s almost a miniature version of the yearly Duke-UNC basketball match-up, as someone who wants to spot up on the arc battles a guy who consistently wants to push the tempo.  Lance Stephenson should fairly easily get the edge, as he still scores at a higher clip than Korver, while also playing superior defense, as well as crashing the boards efficiently.

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  • ADVANTAGE:  Lance Stephenson

    SF:  Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (7.2 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 0.8 APG) vs.  DeMarre Carroll (11.1 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 1.8 APG)

    DeMarre Carroll provided solid minutes as starting small forward for the Hawks last year, not necessarily doing too much in any statistical category, but rather doing enough in various areas to help Atlanta during its push for an 8 seed.  Michael Kidd-Gilchrist plays a very similar role for Charlotte as a utility player, a defensive anchor for the team with the ability to guard anyone from shooting guard to power forward.  These two are fairly evenly matched, although Carroll had a better 2014, statistically speaking.  However, I think this may be the year that MKG puts it together offensively, especially after continuing to work on his jump-shot form throughout the summer, and I like his chances to steal this match-up for the Hornets.

    ADVANTAGE:  Michael Kidd-Gilchrist

    PF:  Cody Zeller (6 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 0.5 BPG) vs.  Paul Millsap (17.9 PPG, 8.5 RPG, 1.1 BPG)

    Poor Cody Zeller.  Last year, Paul Millsap was unquestionably the star of the Atlanta Hawks, especially after center Al Horford went down for the season with an injury.  Millsap is an excellent scorer, with the ability to grab almost double digit boards nightly.  Zeller still has a lot to prove for the Hornets, and his starting job is easily the biggest question mark surrounding the team entering the upcoming season.  Fairly decisively, the Hawks get the edge at power forward.

    ADVANTAGE:  Paul Millsap

    C:  Al Jefferson (21.8 PPG, 10.8 RPG, 1.1 BPG)  vs.  Al Horford (18.6 PPG, 8.4 RPG, 1.5 BPG)

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    Who is the real Big Al?  Al Horford had a strong season for the short period of time he got to play, averaging almost 20 points and 10 rebounds per game.  The difference between Horford and Jefferson?  Jefferson actually did average those numbers, and more.  Both players will have questions about healthy/stability (especially Jefferson, who missed the Bobcats’ last playoff game because the pain was too excruciating).  Still, I have to give Al Jefferson the advantage.  He’s a better scorer, rebounder, and while his defense may not be as good as Horford’s, Jefferson is the key to the Hornets’ success.  Last year, Atlanta still made the playoffs without Al Horford for over half of the season; Al Jefferson, meanwhile, carried the Bobcats into the postseason.  His importance to the Hornets alone means he will bring everything he has on a nightly basis, and I have to give him the advantage for that.

    ADVANTAGE:  Al Jefferson

    Key Reserves (Atlanta):  Kent Bazemore, Dennis Schroder, Thabo Sefolosha, Mike Scott, Pero Antic, Adreian Payne

    Key Reserves (Charlotte):  Gerald Henderson, Brian Roberts, Noah Vonleh, Marvin Williams, PJ Hairston, Bismack Biyambo.

    ADVANTAGE:  Charlotte.  The Hornets have a bench full of recognizable names, whereas upon first glance, the three names that initially stuck out to me were Kent Bazemore, Thabo Sefolosha, and Adreian Payne.  Charlotte’s bench has a host of potential starters, not just for the Hornets, but elsewhere in the NBA.  I’m just not sure if I can say the same about the Hawks’ bench.

    Rookies (Atlanta):  Adreian Payne

    Rookies (Charlotte):  Noah Vonleh, PJ Hairston

    ADVANTAGE:  Charlotte.  Adreian Payne was one of my favorite stories in college basketball last season, as his friendship with Princess Lacey was one of the most touching things sports have provided us in the past few years.  He is also a big man who can stroke a three, and may find his niche in Atlanta before potentially starting elsewhere.  That being said, the Hornets had a superior draft, somehow stealing Noah Vonleh (projected 4-6 pick) and PJ Hairston (projected 20-23 pick).  These are two more pieces of Charlotte’s young foundation that looks to carry the team for years to come.  While Adreian Payne’s career should pan out well, the potential of Charlotte’s two rookies combined are much higher than his own.

    FINAL VERDICT:  The difference in this series will come from Charlotte’s bench.  Simply put, the Hornets are a far deeper team than the Hawks, and when each team rests their starters, expect Charlotte to start to pull away, or even play catch-up.  A deep bench is key to success in the NBA, as it allows teams to rest starters (for both the game, and reducing minutes for the season as a whole) while still competing and building or chipping away at leads.  The Hornets have that luxury, whereas the Hawks can’t quite say the same.  I think the series flips over this year, with Charlotte taking it this time.

    PREDICTION:  Charlotte wins the series, 3-1.

    Stats and depth charts are taken from