Last season we tried to do Q&A sessions with bloggers from upcoming opponents whenever possible and they were always interesting and informative. So in advance or tonight's game against the Hornets, I exchanged some questions with the terrific SB Nation blog, At the Hive.
ClipperSteve: How's the James Posey thing working out?
At the Hive: About as well as Hornet fans could have hoped. He's played some terrific man defense on the likes of Kobe, LeBron, and McGrady, and has already drained a ton of clutch three point looks. Recently, he's been in something of a slump- coinciding with the team's poor play. But the thing with Posey is that the constant hustle and effort is there every game. So even on a night where he goes 0-4, his pursuit of loose balls and his relentless defense make him worth having out on the floor.
ClipperSteve: I don't think the David West story gets nearly enough play. Here's a guy that averaged about 4 points per game as a rookie and 6 in his second season. And he was a four year college guy - not some 19 year old. Have you watched him this whole time? What did he do to go from 6 points a game to the All Star Game? I mean, it doesn't usually happen that way for 23 year old pros.
At the Hive: Yeah, I've been lucky to watch his entire career thus far. West has always been one of the hardest working guys on the floor. His first couple years, he didn't have a good offensive game by any stretch of the imagination. He was semi-undersized (6'9", 225-230) for his position. But he earned his playing time by working hard on the glass. His rookie year, he posted an offensive rebound rate of 14%. That might not mean anything at first glance, until you consider that Dwight Howard's career offensive rebound rate is 11.8%. Tyson Chandler- who led the league in offfensive rebound last season- has a career rate of 12.7%. Basically, West was working his butt off, night in and night out, for an 18-64 team. He wasn't promised extra minutes, he really wasn't promised anything. I don't think you'll find too many guys in the NBA willing to work like that, with so little to play for. Byron Scott noticed that.
He encouraged West to develop a midrange jumper, in the 10-12 foot range. West took him up on that challenge, and by his 3rd year- 2005-2006- he could stroke it from about 17 feet. That year, New Orleans drafted the perfect player for West- a guy who could penetrate easily and find West for that midrange jumper. In recent years, West has become pretty fluent at an isolation game as well. But it really took his work ethic and for the team to take a leap of faith on him. I know the media loves to talk about how Chris Paul "created" David West, but that couldn't be further from the truth.
ClipperSteve: There's no way to ask this delicately.... Chris Paul has got this choir boy image, but when I watch him, I see a guy that will take every advantage he possibly can. It's not accurate to call him a 'dirty' player; but he's old school sneaky, like John Stockton or Larry Bird. Am I way off base? Do you see what I'm saying?
At the Hive: Hahaha, no, you're not too far off on this one. Chris Paul on and off the court is like Jekyll and Hyde. The biggest thing with Paul is that he hates to lose. I know that sounds ridiculously cliche. But Paul takes on a whole other level of intensity when the team starts to trail, or team effort isn't there. He'll rip his own teammates as easily as he'll get in opponent's faces. And it's when he's in that angry/intense space that he'll try those sneaky plays. So I wouldn't put him in that Matt Barnes/Bruce Bowen category of cheap shotting opponents wily nily. You have to get him pretty riled up before he retaliates. That said, Paul's chippiest games have come against Baron Davis. It's not even close- Davis gets him fired up like no other. During his time in Charlotte/New Orleans, I always found Baron one of the better trash talkers in the league. Not so much in the Gary Payton sense, but more the "humorous jab, then walks away laughing while his opponent fumes" type of talk. So I wouldn't be surprised to see some fireworks.
At the Hive: Didn't see him nearly enough, maybe a couple minutes towards the very ends of games. For some reason, Byron Scott didn't play either of the two roster invites at all during preseason. So I can't really say on Jordan. As far as third string point guard... well, good question. Byron Scott despises Mike James. Devin Brown had a pretty bad ankle sprain last night. So the better question might be who is our second string point guard? We might see Julian Wright or even James Posey bring up the ball tonight.