How the Charlotte Hornets Match Up Against: The Brooklyn Nets


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 Brooklyn Nets.

2013-14 Series:  Charlotte and Brooklyn split the series, 2-2.

Projected Starting Match-Ups:

PG:  Kemba Walker (17.7 PPG, 1.2 SPG, 6.1 APG) vs.  Deron Williams (14.3 PPG, 1.5 SPG, 6.1 APG)

At one point, Deron Williams looked destined to be one of the next great point guards in the NBA, joining Derrick Rose, Chris Paul, and Russell Westbrook among the elite one-guards in the league.  While that hasn’t exactly panned out for Williams, he is still a dangerous point guard capable of exploding for a big night, and Kemba Walker will need to be careful in guarding him.  Walker and Williams have played inconsistently against each other in the past, shutting each other down some nights, and allowing the other to score big numbers the next time around (see: Kemba’s 31 point night), so this is a difficult match-up to predict.  I’ll give the slight edge to Kemba, based on his more versatile offensive game, but realistically, it could go either way at point guard.

ADVANTAGE:  Kemba Walker

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  • SG:  Lance Stephenson (13.8 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 4.6 APG) vs.  Joe Johnson (15.8 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 2.7 APG)

    Born Ready vs.  Joe Jesus in a match-up of my two absolute favorite nicknames in the NBA.  Joe Johnson has been solid as a shooting guard for the Brooklyn Nets, developing a reputation as being the go-to guy in clutch situations.  Johnson has proven himself to be a fantastic asset to have in last second shot situations, and I’m sure he has a few more highlight reel plays up his sleeve.  Despite this, I really like Lance Stephenson in this match-up.  Stephenson might not be the better scorer, but I think his overall game is much more valuable to the Hornets than Johnson’s is to the Nets, especially when you compare the transitionary game, as well as Stephenson’s ability to gobble up rebounds.  I’ll take Born Ready this time.

    ADVANTAGE:   Lance Stephenson

    SF:  Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (7.2 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 0.8 APG) vs.  Andrei Kirilenko (5.0 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 1.6 APG)

    For once, we have a player who MKG is statistically better than!  Let’s be excited about this anomaly.  Kirilenko is a seasoned NBA vet nearing the tail end of his career, while MKG is still putting together his NBA game, so it makes sense that these two are on opposite statistical paths.  Kirilenko is being thrust into the starting role following the departure of Paul Pierce, and he will have quite the shoes to fill as an aging small forward.  Look for the younger, quicker MKG to take this match-up for the Hornets.

    ADVANTAGE:  Michael Kidd-Gilchrist

    PF:  Cody Zeller (6 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 0.5 BPG) vs.  Kevin Garnett (6.5 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 0.7 BPG)

    I knew Kevin Garnett struggled last season, but I had no idea it was this bad for him.  Garnett’s numbers continue to drop, which tempts me to pull a shocker and take Cody Zeller.  Similarly to the Michael Kidd-Gilchrist/Andrei Kirilenko match-up, the Hornets have the younger player on an upward trend, whereas the Nets have a long-tenured veteran in his final days as an NBA player.  Zeller’s upside is much higher than that of Garnett, and I think he’ll end up giving the Hornets yet another edge.

    ADVANTAGE:  Cody Zeller

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    C:  Al Jefferson (21.8 PPG, 10.8 RPG, 1.1 BPG)  vs.  Brook Lopez (20.7 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 1.8 BPG)

    This is easily the most intriguing match-up of the series, especially given that Brook Lopez says that he will be “better than ever” returning from last year’s season ending foot injury.  Lopez’s stats are obviously inflated due to him playing just 17 games last year, but he is still a very good center, among the best in the Eastern Conference.  Still, Al Jefferson has been a model of consistency for the Hornets, and they will look for him to really seal the match-up between Charlotte and Brooklyn.  Jefferson is the driving force behind Steve Clifford’s offense, and he should be the deciding factor in this series.

    ADVANTAGE:  Al Jefferson

    Key Reserves (Brooklyn):  Mason Plumlee, Jarrett Jack, Alan Anderson, Mirza Teletovic, Bojan Bogdanovic, Markel Brown, Cory Jefferson

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

    ADVANTAGE:  Charlotte.  Mason Plumlee may be the most talented player on either bench (excuse me, while the Tar Heel in me vomits), but other than that, Brooklyn’s bench just looks really thin to me.  I don’t think Plumlee’s talent alone is making up for what the Hornets possess in their reserves, especially regarding how they can fill in every position with either a former starter, or a genuinely rising young talent.

    Rookies (Brooklyn):  Markel Brown, Xavier Thames

    Rookies (Charlotte):  Noah Vonleh, PJ Hairston

    ADVANTAGE:  Charlotte.  Simply put, the Hornets have two first rounders, including one lottery pick, whereas Brooklyn came away with two second rounders, albeit good ones at that.  Markel Brown was an exciting, athletic player at Oklahoma State, and could see some playing time early into his NBA career.  I remember hearing Xavier Thames’ name being brought up in the college season as a great guard for his vision of the court, which could possibly provide some relief for Deron Williams or Jarrett Jack.  Still, Noah Vonleh has potential to steal the starting power forward role from Cody Zeller, and PJ Hairston is the third shooting guard on a team that has loaded depth at first and second string.  The Hornets added major talent and depth in this draft, and they get the edge as far as first years go.

    FINAL VERDICT:  I did not see this match-up being so lopsided, in terms of breaking it down positionally.  The Brooklyn Nets are one of those teams that the Hornets just match up well against, and come postseason time, we could likely see Charlotte jockeying for a playoff match-up against the Nets in a still-depleted East.  Look for the Hornets to take advantage of this series as they push for a higher playoff seed this year.

    PREDICTION:  Charlotte sweeps Brooklyn, 4-0.

    Stats and depth charts are taken from