New Orleans Hornets Season Preview

23 10 2008

My NBA South West Division preview begins with the New Orleans Hornets:

New Orleans Hornets

2007-08 Standings 56 – 26, 2nd Western Conference

2008-09 Predicted Record 60 – 22, 1st South West Division, 2nd Western Conference

Projected Starting Five:  Tyson Chandler, David West, Peja Stojakovic, Morris Peterson, Chris Paul

Sixth Man:  James Posey

The Hornets big 3 of David West, Tyson Chandler and Chris Paul will be hoping for more success this season.

The Hornets big 3 of David West, Tyson Chandler and Chris Paul will be hoping for more success this season.

Last season was a great one for the New Orleans Hornets. They returned to New Orleans after a forced absence due to Hurricane Katrina and there were doubts that the team would stay long term. At first attendance at the Hornets home games was tepid but in March and April they picked up and the franchise registered a number of sell outs. The reason for the upswing in support? The outstanding play of the Hornets which resulted in them finishing the regular season in second place in the ultra tough Western Conference.

The Hornets are led by the outstanding point guard, Chris Paul. So good was Paul that he finished second in MVP voting behind Kobe Bryant. Paul is diminutive yet he is ultra quick and ultra skilled and often leaves opponents gasping at air. He is capable of taking over a game with his scoring and his passing and it is Paul who makes everyone else on this team competitive.

Paul is helped out by another All Star, power forward David West. West experienced a mostly healthy season and as a result averaged 20 ppg and just under 9 rpg. West possesses an outstanding shooting stroke and as such is a perfect complement for Chris Paul’s game.

Holding down the middle is Tyson Chandler. Chandler is incredibly limited offensively, relying on put backs off offensive rebounds and lobs from Paul to slam home. But offence is not why he’s in the team, he’s there to rebound and provide a defensive presence in the middle. Surprisingly for a player of his length and athletic ability he’s a poor shot blocker.

Peja Stojakovic is a shadow of his former All Star days with the Sacramento Kings but he remains an outstanding shooter and as such he is a useful third or fourth option.

The big off season pickup was the Boston Celtics glue guy James Posey. Posey is a big time player, a superb defender, a capable outside shooter and a player willing to take the big shots. The Hornets overpaid for Posey but they are looking at Posey putting them over the top, it’ll be interesting to see if the gamble pays off. 

The Hornets play in the toughest division in basketball. Of the five teams, four are legitimate title contenders. They proved themselves last year, this year it’s about making the Western Conference Finals at the very least.

Coach:

Byron Scott won the 2008 NBA Coach of the Year for his efforts coaching the Hornets last season. He seems perfectly suited to his Hornets team and it seems that he is set for a long stint with a club. However he experienced similar success with the New Jersey Nets before being fired so nothing is certain in basketball.

Bench:

Outside of new acquisition James Posey, the Hornets bench is terribly thin. If they suffer injuries to any of their big three, Paul, West and Chandler, then they will struggle. In an added bonus they feature the only current kiwi in the NBA, Sean Marks (hey, it’s important to me!)

Star Player:

Chris Paul is an all NBA player. He’s the best point guard in the game today, having overtaken Steve Nash and Jason Kidd and ahead of Deron Williams and Tony Parker. The Hornets will go as far as he can take them.

Team MVP:

The Hornets have a few candidates here. Superstar Chris Paul is at the heart of everything they do while James Posey was arguably one of the most valuable players on the championship Celtics. But the true team MVP of the Hornets has to be David West. If he can have another season like last year then the Hornets are legitimate contenders. However his career has been marred by injury and if that befalls him this year then the Hornets could slump.

Final Prognosis:

The New Orleans Hornets will once again be one of the best teams in the NBA and if everyone stays healthy they stand a good shot of unseating the LA Lakers to represent the West.

 

You can find an index of past Previews here.

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NBA Season Preview Index

3 10 2008

Atlantic Division Previews:

Boston Celtics Season Preview

Philadelphia 76ers Season Preview

Toronto Raptors Season Preview

New York Knicks Season Preview

New Jersey Nets Season Preview

Northwest Division Previews:

Utah Jazz Season Preview

Portland Trail Blazers Season Preview

Denver Nuggets Season Preview

Minnesota Timberwolves Season Preview

Oklahoma City Thunder Season Preview

Central Division Previews:

Cleveland Cavaliers Season Preview

Detroit Pistons Season Preview

Chicago Bulls Season Preview

Milwaukee Bucks Season Preview

Indiana Pacers Season Preview

Pacific Division Previews:

LA Lakers Season Preview

Phoenix Suns Season Preview

Golden State Warriors Season Preview

LA Clippers Season Preview

Sacramento Kings Season Preview

South East Division Previews:

Orlando Magic Season Preview

Miami Heat Season Preview

Atlanta Hawks Season Preview

Washington Wizards Season Preview

Charlotte Bobcats Season Preview

South West Division Previews:

New Orleans Hornets Season Preview

San Antonio Spurs Season Preview

Houston Rockets Season Preview

Dallas Mavericks Season Preview

Memphis Grizzlies Season Preview





good Marks

1 09 2008

I had to smile when I saw this news. Sean Marks, the first kiwi to play in the NBA, has been signed by the New Orleans Hornets. While at best he has only been an average NBA player (most would say mediocre) he is arguably NZs greatest basketballer. That’s by virtue of making the NBA. There have been other standouts of course – Pero Cameron is my personal favourite and during the 2002 World Championships where we finished 4th (yes 4th!) he was voted one of the players of the tournament. Of the current NZ players Kirk Penney is probably the best and worthy of a roster slot in the NBA. But Marks stands above all the others.

He’s had the privilege of playing on some great teams, including winning a title in 2005 with the Spurs. The last couple of years he’s played for the Suns. And now he’s going to play with the Hornets. Some might say with career stats of 3.1ppg and 2 rpg a game that he doesn’t deserve to be there. But I read an interview with him once where he talked about how his role with teams is as a big body to bang with in practise. He might not play much but he’s now a 9 year vet and that’s a pretty good milestone.