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Know Thy Enemy: New Orleans Hornets

New Orleans Hornets

Last Season: 49-33 (.598, 4th in the Southwest Division- and when 49 wins is fourth, that's a good division- 7th in the Western Conference

Key Additions: Traded for Emeka Okafor, Darius Songaila, signed Ike Diogu, drafted Darren Collison, Marcus Thornton
Key Losses: Rasual Butler, Tyson Chandler, Antonio Daniels, Ryan Bowen

I have a well known (among the residents of my home, meaning my wife) prejudice against Wood veneer certain types of mainstream designer furniture. Different items from your Crate and Barrels, your Pottery Barns and so on. It's not that the stuff doesn't look nice. It does. Gangbusters, really. My issues instead are with build quality. Too much of the stuff uses veneers. Scratch it, bang it, or otherwise lose the kid gloves, and suddenly all you see is lesser quality wood below. Or (gasp!) some sort of particle board. In that sense, the New Orleans Hornets are very similar. The appointments make for a potentially stylish unit. Chris Paul is flat out sick. (Andy recently joked how at this point my man crush on CP3 may require changing my Facebook status from "married" to "it's complicated.") David West is a very solid player. Okafor represents an upgrade over Chandler. 

After that, though, things get dangerously close to particle board.

To say the rest of the roster doesn't generate a Boubon Street-esque excitement would be an understatement. James Posey wasn't all that good last year, and I've read he didn't exactly show up to camp in tip top shape, perhaps due to offseason hip surgery. Not good for a player adding mileage on the odometer and relied on to be a defensive presence. Peja Stojakovic can still shoot, at least in theory, but must bounce back from a horrible, injury-marred '08-'09 campaign. It's reasonable to wonder how much he has left. (Bad backs are no joke.) Songaila helps, but only because Hilton Armstrong may be the worst backup center in basketball (ironically, though, he has one of the game's most fantastic names). Julian Wright? Who knows. Collison is a rookie, Bobby Brown is a journeyman, Mo Peterson has become very ordinary.

Ike Diogu could be a nice pickup, having always been a productive player in limited minutes over his career, but then again maybe there's a reason four teams have managed not to put him in their rotation. They also seem to have high hopes for Thornton. So there's that.

On paper, Okafor likely boosts the win total, since unlike Chandler his offensive game expands beyond throwing down alley-oops on pick and rolls. West is a perfect compliment to CP3, with a smooth inside-out game. Fortunately for New Orleans, Paul is so freakin' good that he can keep them in 50 win territory. He's the best PG in the NBA, an MVP candidate every season. Unfortunately, it's not a healthy thing for a team to be so totally dependent on one player, and that he scored or assisted on over 50% of team baskets  certainly indicates a lack of balance. On the other hand, it's not like anyone else has stepped up in a playmaking capacity. After Paul's 861 dimes, West was next in line with 173, followed by Peja and Bulter with 75.

(By comparison, the Lakers had six players over 150 and eight over 100.)

The Hornets also play things extremely close to the vest, sporting the third slowest pace factor in the league last year and steadfastly holding onto the ball (at 1,209, only three teams had fewer turnovers). They put the ball in Paul's hands, and let him make good decisions. Different personnel might tempt Byron Scot to crank up the tempo, but with this group it seems unlikely.

All told, the Hornets have a very good frontcourt with Okafor and West, a killer PG, and a bushel of question marks, particularly at the two guard and small forward spots. If the Hornets stay healthy (and a wing- Wright being the most likely candidate- emerges), Paul can lead them to a reasonably high playoff seed and a postseason run isn't out of the question. But something more substantive like a Western Conference championship, won't come unless the Hornets make more moves to add depth... which they won't do because the franchise has no cash. (Explaining why they sold Butler to the Clippers for a future second rounder they may never use.) I swear, George Shinn called me the other day and asked to borrow fifty bucks.

It's a little sad, because I'd love to see Paul play significant games deep in the postseason. Instead, he'll spend the season making flawed material look good, but if scratches and nicks dent the veneer- that Okafor is already struggling with a toe problem is not a good omen- the problems in New Orleans will be more than even Paul can cover.

Prediction: 51 wins, 4th in the Southwest, 6th in the Western Conference.

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BK

 
Comments () | Archives (19)

The comments to this entry are closed.

According to Wikipedia, "A troll is someone who posts controversial, inflammatory, irrelevant or off-topic messages in an online community."

By this definition, 131, Red and balloons barely qualify as trolls. Controversial? That's a matter of opinion, but I'd say no. Inflammatory? Perhaps, but only if we're inflammable. Irrelevant? No. Off-topic? No.

Posters become trolls not based on their posts, but based on our response to their posts. If we choose to be offended, annoyed, or angry, we have made them trolls.

Solution? If you know their posts will annoy you, don't read them. If you simply cannot help yourself and absolutely MUST read their comments (my category), either choose not to respond OR simply choose not to take offense at whatever might be said and their comments can no longer be controversial and inflammatory, thus stripping them of their effects as a troll.

Whether they post on here or not is not our choice, but how we respond to them is.

Why wasn't this called "Know Thy Enemy"?

"Know Thy Enemy" is cool.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.

GO LAKERS!!!

Hornets improved in the offseason, but not by much. Their wings still suck something awful and that's not enough to stick with the West's elite. I think they're a 6th seed at best.

Has anyone seen/heard anything on just exactly how bad Drew's injury is?

justanothermambafan,

Re: Drew's injury, the Fabulous Forum reported him as probable for tomorrow's game against the nuggs. Nothing to worry about.

The Bynum injury doesn't appear to be serious. The thought is he'll play tomorrow.

More to come in the practice report!

BK

#4 - whew - thanks!

puddle - it's gotta be tough when your wings suck and you're a hornet.... ba dum dum..

Should have resisted but couldn't :)

INJURIES AND GOOFEY THINKING . . .

--Walton out with sore back ~ misses 4 or 5 games.
--Paul out with sore hamstring ~ misses 3 or 4 games.
--Lamar out with sore leg ~ misses a couple of games.
--Drew "strains" shoulder ~ no time expected to be lost, but who knows.


As we take note of the health and/or recovery of KG and the Celtic's chances, or that of Shaq and the Cav's chances, we of course can't overlook that pup-tent of a MASH unit in our own backyard. And this is where both reality and our cause for optomism can be found.


REALITY = injuries will happen in an NBA season.
OPTOMISM = Lakers are well stocked to survive, if not excel, during such periods of injury


I contend that the evidence is in, showing this team can survive the hit of more than an injury or two along the way. Won last year with Drew AND Farmar injured. Won this preseason with Pau out... Lamar out... and yes, even Walton out! Even if Kobe went down, the pieces and system are in place to keep the ship afloat until he could return.


The only injury sequence we should fear would be the horrible, dominoe-falling, catastrophe of Kobe driving to the hoop and getting fouled (injury one) causing him to fall against Drew's legs (injury two) causing him to fall on top of Lamar (injury three) causing Artest to punch out the opponent who fouled Kobe (um... injury four?).


Just trying to keep it light, Laker Brothers!
Mike

It's amazing sometimes how blog sync think works

Last week I was pondering to myself who Socks reminded me of, in terms of modern centers. And, of course, I came up with Ewing - which, hey, not a bad comparison. Bynum still has a ways to go (especially with his outside touch and a running sweep/hook/tear drop-like shot that Ewing used to do)... So Jon K, I see the same things you see.

And I agree, I wish he'd get a little more Kareem-style going. He has the athletic ability to do it, and I'm thinking therefore, it's a matter of experience, which in summation would be the basketball mind, and the training of hte unstoppable shot under his belt

Regardless, I'm enjoying - how about Thriller's 8 assists? He took Jackson's wishes to heart

Puddle

Point well taken but one does not need to be insulting or impolite to be considered a troll. I know its our choice not to read them or not and believe me I don't read any of it but scroll right through everytime and its starting to really bug doing it every other post... Its the mere fact that these celtic bloggers have not only made a permanent presence here but the fact they post with such regularity that's what's becoming annoying.

This is a laker blog for cryin out loud. I come here to read about laker news and share laker opinions with other laker fans. If I want to read about the damn celtics I'll go visit their site.

This is a laker blog for cryin out loud. I come here to read about laker news and share laker opinions with other laker fans. If I want to read about the damn celtics I'll go visit their site.

I AM IN 100% AGREEMENT WITH YOU YELLOFEVER THOSE BOSTON FANS NEED TO GO TO THEIR OWN SITE. THIS IS LAKER NATION

LakerMike,

To add to your optimism: Not only are the Lakers well-stocked, but they have the most versatile roster in the league. We have a couple of players that can cover 3 positions competently. Lamar, Ron, Kobe, Pau, Sasha, Shannon, have proven that they can cover a position other than their own preferred one very well. The only guys that can't cover more than 1 position are Jordan and Fish, but their position can be covered by Sasha, Kobe, or Shannon.

Bynum can't technically cover more than one position, since he's always going to be the biggest guy on the court for the Lakers. However,the triangle being what it is, the PF and C spots are interchangeable. If Bynum were in with Mbenga, it would sorta be a toss up and would depend on the defensive matchup Phil would want to see.

Anyways, by position, we are very deep.:

1s: Fish/Jordan/Shannon/Sasha/Kobe
2s: Kobe/Sasha/Shannon/Ron
3s: Ron/Luke/Ammo/Kobe/Lamar
4s: Pau/Lamar/Ron/Mbenga
5s: Bynum/Pau/Mbenga

....and don't forget, the teams Phil puts out typically blend talents very well.

Laker Mike,

Don't you think these are just preseason sores to have more R & R for Gasol all year round basketball, for Bynum's knees and Lamar's extended honeymoon. Once the season starts, everybody will be in the best of shape.

Puddle,

Here is another vivid description of a Troll in the Scandinavian folklore...

"These trolls have a human-like appearance. Sometimes they had a tail hidden in their clothing, but even that is not a definite. Many of these trolls had a single lock of hair that no human could comb, whereas the rest was generally messy. A frequent way of telling a human-looking troll in folklore is to look at what it is wearing: Troll women in particular were often too elegantly dressed to be human women moving around in the forest. They could attract human males to do their bidding, or simply as mates or pets. Later these would be found wandering, decades later, with no memory of what had happened to them in a troll woman's caves." -Wikepedia Trolls of Norway

Ugh, ugh what a coincidence, it resembles to leprechauns.

Who thinks Chris Paul will bolt as soon as he's a free agent? I do.


If the Hornets under-perform, will Baby B be the first to go?


Okafor doesn't change this team that much, what they needed to do was keep Butler. Then they would've had some depth, now they're a major injury away from low-tier team status.


Okafor for Chandler is a downgrade in my eyes, even despite Chandler's history of injury. Okafor has been a 'loser' his whole career in regards to the culture and teams he has been a part of, and that is hard to change (yes I know he won at UCONN). It's hard to change a player's perspective, who is arguably at the downslope of his career. I've scene Ike up close and personal here in Indiana and he can play, as long as he gets a rest per every five minutes of PT, just saying. For me Kobe's will, the addition of Artest, and the Zen Master are enough to keep the Hornets in NBA mediocrity for another year. Did I forget to mention there timely shooting, defensive intensity, and playoff experience? Love the work, keep on keeping on.

Jamie Sweet,

"Who thinks Chris Paul will bolt as soon as he's a free agent?"

I do. He'll bolt.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.

GO LAKERS!!!!

Yeah probably aren't going to be particularly good but they are prime cadidates for being underestimated going into the season.

If everything clicks they could be much better than everyone thinks ie if Peja is healthy,CP3 turns Okafor into an all star, Posey has a good year etc etc,Paul improves...I think their upside is considerably higher than 51 wins but they won't be able to take out the powers in a seven game series regardless of their regular season record.

The whole "George Shinn is cheap" and the "Hornets have no cash" thing is getting a little tired. Overpaying for Peja and Mo Pete has the team hamstrung at the moment- but illustrates that Shinn will spend, if not necessarily wisely. Every team in the league is operating under the same cap, and only a few rare exceptions are still willing to pay the luxury tax (and boy that spend whatever it takes to win sure worked out great for the teams that have tried it). CP, West and Okafor are all under contract for the next few years. Long enough to get out from under those now bad contracts. Both were key members of the 0708 run, maybe they stay healthy this year, maybe not. But they are both expiring contracts next year, giving the team a lot of flexability in the near future to go with a great core. A year ago Butler was getting arrested in Miami and buried on the bench. Great for him that he turned it around into a solid season, but are we really saying that losing him in a salary dump is a sign that the Hornets are rolling change for gas money? Sure they are counting on good health and a good year from some question marks like Wright, but who isn't? They are better positioned than most, but for whatever reason nobody ever wants to give Shinn the benefit of the doubt.


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