The Hornets were a team decimated by injuries last year. Peja Stojakovic wasn’t around. Morris Peterson spent time on the DL, and so did big man, and Team USA teammate of Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler; meaning that this year the Hornets are going to be tougher to beat. They still have perhaps the most pure, throwback point guard in the league with Chris Paul, and CP3 is off to another amazing start for the Hornets this year by leading them in scoring (20.5 ppg), assists (9.0 apg), and steals (2.5 spg). However, if there is a silver lining to how the Nuggets have historically handled Paul it’s that he is averaging 14.2 points in six games against the Nuggets, and has shot only 30.9 percent (29-for-94) from the field.
The flip-side to how CP3’s stats drop against the Nuggets is how Peja Stojakovic’s numbers skyrocket. Stojakovic, starting his first full season with the Hornets, is averaging 18.5 points and shooting 47 percent (8-for-17) from 3-point range. The once deadly sharpshooter is averaging 24.0 points in his last six games against Denver while making 50% (21-for-42) of his shots from the land of plenty during that span. Furthermore, I am a little bit concerned about the tandem of Paul and Stojakovic downright schooling the Nuggets around the perimeter with the pick and roll. I did see improvement against the pick and roll in the Minnesota game, but Minny didn’t have anyone who could compare to the duo we are about to face tonight.
And the Hornets are yet to face anyone like the Nuggets, either.
Sure the Hornets come into this game 2-0, just like the Nuggets, and have won their first deuce by an average of 17 points per win, but have they faced the REAL big three the league SHOULD be showcasing? I think not.
Marcus Camby, Carmelo Anthony, and Allen Iverson may just be the best three players on any team period. Their statistics are gaudy and their swagger is ludicrous. The Captain is averaging 18 rebounds, 5.5 rejected shots, nine points, and three assists. Locking it down defensively is all this man is does for a living. ‘Melo is averaging 32.5 points, 5.5 assists, five rebounds, a steal, and a block while shooting 53.5% from the field and a vastly improved 45.5% from downtown. Anthony is giving opposing team’s coaching staffs nightmares trying to think of ways to contain him on the night before their team faces the Nuggets. The Answer is averaging a double-double so far of 24.5 points, eleven assists, five steals, and four rebounds. And the scary thing about those numbers is AI is doing so while actually struggling offensively with a 36% field goal success rate and starting off the season cold (1-7) from downtown!
Plus, after two games, ‘Melo is leading the league in scoring, Camby is leading the league in blocks and is just a two boards behind KG for rebounding supremacy, AI is leading the league in steals and is just an assist behind Brevin Knight in the sharing department, and the Nuggets are only giving up a vastly improved average of 97 ppg while putting up 109.5 ppg on their challengers.
Now, if all that isn’t enough to justify my prediction and excitement for tonight’s game then I just don’t know what to tell you.
Oh, never mind, yes I do.
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