You may be familiar with ESPN.com’s 5-on-5 roundtables, which feature opinion and analysis from ESPN writers and TrueHoop Network contributors on pressing NBA topics. Along with other THN blogs, Cowbell Kingdom has brought that format to the local level in the form of our own 3-on-3 roundtable.
Tonight, the Sacramento Kings usher in 2012 against a new-look New Orleans Hornets team on the back-end of a back-to-back. Sacramento hopes to erase any memory of last night’s 114-92 blowout loss to the New York Knicks.
Today, Jonathan Santiago is joined by fellow TrueHoop Network blogger Joe Gerrity of Hornets 247, and Rob Hessing, better known as section214 of Sactown Royalty. In roundtable form, they breakdown this New Year’s Day match-up between the Kings and Hornets.
1. Tougher coaching job this season: Monty Williams or Paul Westphal?
Joe Gerrity: Considering Monty Williams didn’t have a full roster until the eve of the first preseason game, I’ll go with him. Both have lots of young talent to piece together, but at least Wesphal had a full(ish) training camp to do it.
section214: Paul Westphal. They both have shaky ownership, and neither should be investing in local home ownership. The tie breaker is that Westphal has to watch the Kings shoot free throws.
Jonathan Santiago: Lots of similarities between both teams. The Hornets and Kings both have depth. And both men are coaching in cities with less-than-certain futures. But because Westphal is in the final year of his contract, he is under pressure to deliver results now.
2. Matchup to watch?
Joe Gerrity: If Gordon plays (and it’s unlikely he will) it has to be watching how he and Thornton compare. Either way, how Thornton does against the Hornets back court will certainly be on the mind of more than a few Hornets fans.
section214: Carl Landry vs. Chuck Hayes. Top Hat returns with a team that knows how to use him. Hayes will be adamant about not letting Landry go all Tony Delk on the Kings. Under card: Salmons vs. Ariza in the battle of “You’re paying your small forward how much for that performance?”
Jonathan Santiago: If Eric Gordon plays, then the match-up between him and Marcus Thornton. These guys play such similar styles that it’ll be intriguing to watch how one defends the other.
3. Finish this sentence: The Hornets/Kings will win if…
Joe Gerrity: The Hornets will win if they can control the glass and hit from a respectable clip from the floor and three point range. The Kings will win if the Hornets can’t slow down Tyreke Evans and Marcus Thornton
section214: The Kings will win if they play transition defense and/or if Eric Gordon doesn’t play (in which case the Thornton/Belinelli match up overtakes Landry/Hayes due to sub-plot). The Hornets will win if Gordon plays or Emeka Okafor out shoots the Kings from the free throw line. Kings/Hornets fans will win if current ownership sells tomorrow.
Jonathan Santiago: The Kings improve their chances of winning if they make their free throws. Ranked second in free throw attempts among all 30 teams, getting to the line hasn’t been a problem for Sacramento, but making them has. The Hornets can win if they keep the Kings from finally executing their offense. Sacramento is still figuring out how to share the ball, as they’ve averaged only 13.5 assists per game over their first four contests.