That was some game on Friday; against the Pacers of all teams. Recreating a full 48 minutes of that same level of focus and intensity is going to be a challenge, but something interesting is starting to develop in Toronto: the gap between thinking they are a “good” team and what we actually see being displaying on the court is starting to close.

From the moment DeRozan called out Hollinger on his early season prediction, there was a discrepancy between where the players thought this team was and what we saw on a game-to-game basis. While the team is rallying around Gay, and we finally have a closer that you’d actually want taking clutch shots in late game situations, an underrated benefit of the Gay-trade was moving Calderon and getting closure on the franchises previous chapter. Maybe his handing out drinks at half-time was what really kept this team from reaching the next level. I’m obviously joking…

The Hornets are coming off a rather impressive win over the Hawks where Vasquez put up a triple-double and Gordon/Anderson rained jumpers from the perimeter. I wont lie, I haven’t watched a single Hornets (Pelicans?) game in a few seasons, not even to check out Davis (YouTube is great for that) so the last line was my interpretation of a few boxscores, shot charts and an educated guess. That said, this team has a super young core of nice players you could really get behind (except Rivers; not sure anyone likes him); especially with Davis/Gordon leading the youth movement. If they can add another top-3 draft, and continue to improve, Dale Demps and Monty Williams (who I’m a huge fan of) could have themselves a winner in a few seasons.

Had a change to speak to Jason Calmes from Hornets 247:

It wasn’t too long that the Hornets looks like a franchise in dire straights, but Demps has been able to make a few moves to really turn the fortunes of this team around (he got the Wizards to take Okafor AND Ariza for an expiring Rashard Lewis I believe). At what point does he start to get Buford/Presti type love from the mainstream?

He got the expiring Lewis whose buyout was about 2/3 of his book value, effectively expiring him. That move not only helped out the cap situation next year, it freed up space this year to get Anderson. Then, he turned Jarrett Jack into an improved Robin Lopez using the retiring Brad Miller. At what point does he get credit? When the Hornets make two consecutive respectable runs into the second round. Is that `right’? As far as I’m concerned, I hope all owners but one think Demps is not worth hiring.

Knowing what you know about Davis and Lillard, and seeing the direction the league is moving in with regards to point guards, would you draft Davis over Lillard again given a second chance?

Davis. All day. Every day. Davis is 19 (20 next month). Lillard is 22 (23 in July). Looking at the way Davis is playing in limited minutes, having dealt with injuries, as a growing 19 year old, and in a role that typical peaks later than guards, yeah, I’ll take the guy with the higher WS/48 (0.142 v. the below average 0.097), PER (20.7 v. 16.4), TS% (0.560 v. 0.542), and whose ORtg exceeds his DRtg (110-103 v. 108-110).

Should the Hornets seriously consider trying to move Eric Gordon given his large contract and injury history?

The Hornets should consider offers for Eric Gordon this summer once his veto power expires (until the last year of his deal), as this will expand the trade market. His large salary and injury history could be the right combination for a team looking to dump even more salary to avoid the increased tax burdens that creep up next year with some nice expiring vets. They should use his allure to their advantage, as well. The salary and injury history will server to shrink the value receive in any deal, but given that he’s one of about 35 players making over $13m per year, and that some other team offered him that contract (Phoenix), there just may be enough interest out there to keep teams talking until the right deal can be struck.

How will the Hornets approach the game with the Raptors, and what can we expect out of them?

Both teams are significantly different compared to those that met in late December. The Hornets, in particular, have Eric Gordon back and Anthony Davis is playing better. Both have been limited in minutes for weeks, but that limit may be eroding of late. Their rotations are solidifying, but there is a clear component of player development to them. Thus, some of their rotations will seem illogical at times, such as sitting the hot hand or the defensive keystone. In terms of game plan, the idea will be to get the ball to Eric Gordon or Ryan Anderson, then see what they can do or what that move opened up for others . . . or both.

Tale of the Tape

O-Rating: Raptors 106.1 (12th) vs Hornets 104.7 (14th)
D-Rating: Raptors 108.1 (26th) vs Hornets 109.2 ( 28th)
Pace: Raptors 90.0 (25th) vs Hornets 88.9 (29th)

The Picks

Vegas: Raptors -4
Sam: Raptors by 6

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