Spurs vs. Hornets: Preview, Analysis & Predictions for Anthony Davis' NBA Debut
The NBA season and Anthony Davis's career are set to tip off. Davis, the first pick of the 2012 NBA draft, will launch his career against a former No. 1 overall pick Tim Duncan when the New Orleans Hornets travel to San Antonio to take on the Spurs.
The two stars are representative of their teams as the Spurs return a franchise record 13 players while the Hornets bring a largely revamped roster on which Davis is not the only new name. The Hornets have also added Ryan Anderson, the NBA's reigning Most Improved Player, and another rookie, Austin Rivers, son of Boston Celtics Coach, Doc Rivers.
So who will win, the new team or the old team? The rook or the vet?
The game has enough intrigue to entice viewers beyond the local markets.
Time: 8 PM EDT
TV: KENS, Fox Sports New Orleans, NBA TV
Records: San Antonio (0-0), New Orleans (0-0)
Betting Line: Spurs -6 ½ (via Vegas.com)
Injuries: San Antonio: Manu Ginobili (back) out.
New Orleans: Jason Smith (shoulder) day to day.
Key Storylines: Are the Spurs a Championship Contender?
People will be watching the Spurs to see if they are a championship contender this year. They've led the West in wins the last two seasons but were bounced in the first round two years ago.
Last year, after rolling through the postseason, and seemingly on their way to the Finals after trouncing the Thunder in the first two games, they dropped four straight.
How Much Better are the Hornets?
No team that was among the worst last year has more cause to believe they can improve this year. The Hornets have added the top overall pick in Davis another top-10 pick with Rivers and the NBA's top three-point shooter in Ryan Anderson.
On top of all that, their franchise player, Eric Gordon, spent the majority of last season injured and is returning.
Will the new squad mesh and how much better will they be? The Spurs certainly offer a big test to open the season.
The key matchup will be the one that everyone is watching. How will Anthony Davis fare against future Hall of Famer Tim Duncan? It's quite a test to open up your career to go against one of the greatest ever.
Duncan was once the focus of the Spurs offense, but that onus has shifted to Tony Parker now. Duncan is still the leader on defense though and he'll be expected to shut down Davis.
While Davis was not expected to do much on offense in the preseason he's scored 14.9 points and added 9.9 rebounds per game in 32 minutes a game. Then, he wasn't going against Tim Duncan either.
It will also be interesting to see whether his tremendous shot-blocking ability is on display. Davis blocked 11 shots during his seven preseason games after setting a NCAA record for blocked shots last year.
Tiago Splitter, C, San Antonio Spurs
With the stretch forward, Anderson, being the NBA's best three-point shooter last year, the Spurs will have a tough time finding an answer to him. They'll need to find a big who can step out to the arc and challenge Anderson from deep.
If he can then the Hornets may struggle to find scoring off the bench. With the Spurs deep bench providing plenty of scoring, the Hornets will fade quickly without Anderson chipping in and this game could be over by halftime.
Austin Rivers, G, New Orleans Horents
Austin Rivers has been trying to figure out how to play in the NBA and how to play for the Hornets. He's averaged just 7.2 points on .271 shooting for the preseason. That hasn't stopped him from throwing up more than eight shots a game though.
Rivers must play within himself and let the game come to him rather than try and force himself on the game. If he tries "going Kobe" while he's still a long way from being there, he'll shoot the Hornets out of the game quickly.
Depth Charts: Here's a look at both depth charts.
Prediction: Spurs 113-92
While the Hornets fans have plenty to be excited about, they won't be excited on opening night. The hometown Spurs fans though will have plenty to cheer for as the Spurs will put on a three-point shooting clinic that will put this one in the rear view mirror early.
The Hornets will just be too young and too inexperienced to present much of a challenge to the high-octane Spurs. By the end of the season, this game will be a closer contest, but this is just too much to ask for a new team with so many young players.
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