Fizer's Take: New Orleans Hornets
If you expected a season where they'll top the one Chris Paul did last 2008, you're going to be pretty disappointed. Yup... Disappointment is the key word for NOH this past season... I mean, I remember when Gary Payton was asked who's gonna win the Western Conference Title, he'd bet his ass the Hornets would come out on top and surprise the NBA... But alas, the team could not lift up and retain their dominance the previous season. After winning a franchise record 56 games, they did solidly but underwhelmed a 49-33 record the past year which resulted to a lower seed the year before. What could have been the factor? Yes... It could be the rust from last season... But no because they did win 49...which isn't that bad... Ahhh.. Yes... If you think INJURIES are the main factors to the Hornets' demise, it certainly was. The started the season slowly and even when they did try and make a streak of wins, a major guy would go down, notably the likes of CP3 and Tyson Chandler, who has been disappointing last season. The result of it was poor as it developed choppy chemistry going into the playoffs. From a team that was cheered upon, they became a team that was fighting hard to survive and true enough, they didn't last that long. Though Chris Paul was still Chris Paul of old, his team was weaker than before as they were crushed in the first round by Chauncey Billups and the Denver Nuggets ESPECIALLY in Game 4 where the Hornets were embarrassed in the home floor with a 64-118 laughter. CP3 managed a rarity of 4 points in that horrible and despicable game.
The Hornets would rather try and forget the things that happened that year and so they did through this draft or so they thought. Well, they weren't really mesmerized by the 2009 Draft Class but they took two players anyway, one from a trade in the second round. Darren Collison, a UCLA Bruin, was drafted in the first round. A head scratcher to some since the team needed size and post threat that could help David West inside but in fairness to Darren, he is a pretty agile PG with a fluid game. He sorta reminds me of Darrell Armstrong and can be a serviceable back up to Chris Paul in the next years to come. The second round choice was Marcus Thornton who they acquired through a trade with Miami. A scoring machine that never let up, he is a guy that could fill in the role left by Rasual Butler and often injured and aging Peja. His athleticism is not out of this world but he can provide points for this New Orleans team.
The off-season's biggest accomplishment for the Hornets was acquiring Emeka Okafor in exchange for injury-plagued CF Tyson Chandler. It was puzzling at first but when you look at the scenario, it's a win-win situation. Emeka Okafor could be an upgrade over Tyson Chandler though he isn't the same athletically speaking but he makes up for it with strength and unexpected durability having been playing all 82 games last year. This could be a tandem waiting to happen and I'm excited to see what happens with the Okafor-Paul combo. The team also acquired journeyman Ike Diogu in hopes of adding more size down low then, there is the ever tireless Darius Songaila who is a player that can contribute when needed to. So a season that could hopefully make fans forget about the 2008-09 season? or could this be another one and the same? Can Chris Paul finally get an MVP award? Can Emeka Okafor stay healthy and provide the firepower this team lacked last year? Everything will fall into place and once again, we might see the Hornets buzzing once more.
NBA Draft Grade: C+
NBA Offseason Grade: B
Predicted W-L: 50-32
This is just a writer's opinion... Anyone care to comment, I am open for it^^
The Hornets need a 2-guard badly. I don't think Thornton is ready to fill the void of Butler yet because it usually takes rookies a year or two to adjust to the longer NBA 3-point line, not to mention his lack of top-tier athleticism and ball-handling is going to prevent him from consistently creating his own shot. I really like the addition of Okafor, even though I'll miss those CP3 to Chandler lobs. Like you said, he's much more durable and stronger. Chandler has been kind of a disappointment to me because he's a 7'1 FREAK, yet he has a career average of 1.2 blocks per game. This guy should be challenging Dwight Howard for the league lead in blocked shots every season.
I think the team should of fired coach scott last season... not saying he's not a good coach but it really seemed like the team was kinda blocking him out last year and when that happens it's pretty much down hill from there
problem with the hornets is depth. Paul and west are all-stars, but after that, who can create offense consistently? Plus Okafor, Posey, and Peja are all overpaid, which makes it hard for them to fill out there roster with solid pieces. They couldn't even afford to outbid a euro team for Pargo's services last season. If they could take Peja's 13 mill, and divide it up between 2-3 solid players, it would help a lot.
Heard teammates are losing respect for Okafor already because he hasn't showed up for practice and he's been cleared to play for the past two weeks. Lockeroom issues already? I hope not.