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Charlotte Bobcats at New Orleans Hornets preview -- Game 18

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The Big Picture: In sum, Stephen Jackson is a solid player who helps the Bobcats a lot, mainly by playing good defense, and then also by serving as the primary offensive option. While he's not a particularly great offensive player when evaluated separately from everyone else on the team, it might actually be optimal for him to assume that role, given the other options around him, and how few of them really ought to be taking more shots.

They'll be without Jackson tonight against the New Orleans Hornets. That'll probably drop the Cats' odds of winning, but not as much as you might think, since Jackson's production might be reasonably replaced with the talent on hand.

For one game, it could work to start Shaun Livingston alongside D.J. Augustin. While that would have the unfortunate consequence of starting out with Augustin attempting to guard Chris Paul (and have Paul guarding Augustin), Livingston might not be much of a drop off from Jax defending a wing, and Augustin would then be free to revert to the style of his rookie year, spotting up for threes and occasionally up-faking into a drive.

Musical Interlude: Patrick Stump -- Spotlight (Oh Nostalgia)

Key to Victory: Let's see how the Hornets react to Jackson's absence. It's possible we simply sub McGuire in to Jackson's minutes, and New Orleans changes nothing. But if we use Livingston and Augustin together, that might provide some motivation for New Orleans to use Paul and Jerryd Bayless together in the back court, which works to our favor, because that would allow Livingston to guard Paul while Augustin's in the game, unlike just about any other guard configuration the Hornets use.

In other words, would the Hornets bench one of Marco Belinelli, Marcus Thornton, Willie Green, or Trevor Ariza in favor of extended Jerryd Bayless minutes? I don't know, but that would probably be best for us.

UPDATE, 1:48pm -- Silly me was still thinking of Bayless's solid minutes early in the season and forgot he was traded to Toronto, as noted in the comments.

McGuire is starting, but the point still stands that if the Hornets, for whatever reason, react by playing Jarrett Jack alongside Paul, that's ideal for us, rather than letting them run their usual lineup of Paul alongside Belinelli, Green, Ariza, or Thornton.

Detail That May Interest .08% of You: Paul averages more assists per game in the NBA, for his career, than he did during his senior year of high school, 10.0 to 9.5.