When: 7:00 pm EST
Where: Spectrum Center; Charlotte, NC
How to watch: Fox Sports Southeast, NBA League Pass
Alright we finally get to move on from that awful game in Milwaukee.
The Suns were everyone’s surprise team earlier this season, as evidenced by these FanPulse results. Since that survey, the Suns have won just one of seven games, which includes home losses to the Pelicans and Wizards. That makes this a game the Hornets can win.
A trend has emerged for the Hornets this season. When they play a winning team, they get blown out. When they play a losing team, they play it close and somehow find a way to pull out a win at the end more often than not. This Suns team seems to be bad now, so we should be in for a good game tonight, theoretically.
The Suns have a lot of talent. Devin Booker is still doing his thing, averaging 24.5 points and 6.3 assists per game. He’s finally delivering on all that shooting talent he was credited with coming out of college, hitting 41.9% of his 3-pointers after being around league average from deep prior to this season. Along with that comes terrible defense that completely undoes all the good things he does on offense. The Suns are 15.0 points per 100 possessions worse on defense with Booker on the floor. That’s a huge number. As in it’s in the first percentile of NBA players, as in 99% of NBA players have a better net defensive rating. Even Booker’s offensive prowess can’t overcome that, so the Suns have actually been better this season when he sits.
There’s another player on the Suns whose presence on the floor has coincided with a decrease in productivity (well there are several, but there’s one in particular worth highlighting). His name is Frank Kaminsky. Kaminsky is putting up a Charlottean stat line over in Phoenix, posting per game averages of 9.8 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 2.1 assists while shooting a touch over 40% from the field and a touch under 30% from deep. He’s seen a decrease in playing time lately—he’s averaging just 17 minutes per game over the Suns’ last three contests. Hopefully he’ll get significant burn tonight, if only to hear what kind of reception he gets from the Hornets crowd.
Elsewhere, the Suns are getting strong contributions from veteran additions Ricky Rubio and Aron Baynes. They’re trying to find the answer at backup point guard. It’s probably one of Jevon Carter or Elie Okobo (the Suns have been very good with either on the floor), but they seem determined to make the Tyler Johnson thing work, to no one’s benefit. Kelly Oubre and Dario Saric have been pretty good.
The Hornets will get a test of their resolve after a brutal loss to the Bucks. They faced a similar scenario a few weeks ago after a beatdown at the hands of the Raptors. That loss was the start of a five game losing streak. The Hornets will get a chance to show whether or not they’ve grown from that.