Other than backup center, Scott sets rotation

Saturday, October 25, 2008
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com

Hornets fifth-year head coach Byron Scott revealed after today’s practice that he has determined four of the five players who will comprise the second unit at Golden State on Wednesday: Mike James, Devin Brown, Rasual Butler and James Posey. The fifth spot will go to the winner of the ongoing competition at backup center, between Hilton Armstrong and Melvin Ely.

James (6-foot-2), Brown (6-5) and Butler (6-7) were on the floor together often during Thursday’s preseason finale vs. Miami; Scott said he liked what he’s seen from the group. Along with Posey (6-8) and either Armstrong (6-11) or Ely (6-10), it means New Orleans’ second string will be somewhat undersized at a few positions, but more athletic than most opponents.

“We’ll be a little bit smaller, but quicker defensively,” Scott described. “Obviously at the offensive end, we’re going to get a chance to spread people out (due to the perimeter shooting ability of James, Brown, Butler and Posey). I like that they can spread the floor and that they defend. I also like that you’ve got a few ballhandlers out there.”

While Posey has played the majority of his NBA minutes at the 2 and 3 positions, Scott said his defensive versatility allows Posey to defend power forwards effectively.

“Posey can defend against any 4’s,” Scott said. “(But) if he has any mismatches, we’re just going to (double-team the player Posey is guarding). But other teams are going to have to guard him at the other end, too.

“He gives us a good leader out there who understands and gets after guys about defending on every single play.”

Scott was unsure on when he would name Armstrong or Ely the backup 5, but said the earliest he’ll make his final decision would be Monday. Scott also experimented with using Armstrong and Ely together in some lineups during preseason, but did not think the combination resulted in enough positive results.

“Basically it’s the next four days to figure out who’s going to be the backup center,” said Scott, who emphasized that the determining factor will be defensive performance. “They understand that defense is the one thing they have to focus on to stay on the floor. If they’re not defending, I’ve got to take them out.”

One player who was expected to be in the rotation, Julian Wright, is working on returning to the mix after suffering a right ankle injury on Oct. 14. No timetable has been set for his return.