Last year's record: 49-33
Head coach: Byron Scott
Projected Starters: Chris Paul, Morris Peterson, Peja Stojakovic, David West, Emeka Okafor
The Hornets took a step back last year, ending the season a disappointing 49-33 and failing to make a splash in the playoffs. Look for more disappointment this season, as the spectacular Chris Paul will prove to be unable to lift a thin Hornet's team past the first round.
Jay – Emeka Okafor's chemistry with Chris Paul. When Tyson Chandler was healthy, it was a thing of beauty to watch Chris Paul lob passes towards the rim and Chandler gobble them up with a dunk. Paul would often look as if he didn't even look, but just threw the ball at his shoulder towards the rim. If Okafor can develop that same chemistry with Paul, he could turn in a much better offensive year than people expect.
Tommy - Emeka Okafor; He already produces better stats than Tyson Chandler, who he was swapped for, and now he gets a chance to play with the best point guard in the NBA. If New Orleans decides to play more uptempo this year, (which they obviously should because, well.. they have the BEST transition point guard in the NBA!!!) Okafor could be the recipient of a lot of easy buckets.
TJ - Julian Wright has all the tools to become a good player in this league. He needs to step his game up and provide some production from the wing position for this team if they ever want to be a championship contender.
Biggest question mark:
Jay – I know this question is from last year, but it never got answered: How does a team lose by 58 points... at home... in the playoffs? Is that even possible? Did the Hornets throw out a replacement squad led by Keanu Reeves?
Tommy - Definitely the wing position. Right now, it doesn't look like they have anyone on the wing who can either score consistently or defend the athletic, wing scorer that almost every team in this league has. Keep an eye out for Julian Wright, though.
TJ - How long will Chris Paul stay in New Orleans? Will he be their point guard of the future? He is the centerpiece of this organization but if they do not get him some help soon I can see him leaving as soon as his opportunity arrives. Then New Orleans wouldn't be seeing any more of this...
Most compelling storyline:
Jay – David West's continuing run at getting no love from fans or the media despite not being underrated. You can't call him underrated when he's been named an all-star each of the last two years. But does anybody outside of New Orleans quite appreciate this guy?
Tommy - It's early yet in his career, but Chris Paul continues making his case for Greatest PG of all-time. I expect an even better year personally for him, as he sadly waits to be surrounded with championship-caliber players.
TJ – Great acquisition getting the likes of a Emeka Okafor in exchange for Tyson Chandler. Okafor is a walking double-double and has been extremely durable over the past few seasons. It will be interesting to see how a team can be successful starting a 6’8 power forward and a 6’10 center.
Player to watch:
Jay – It'd be easy to say Chris Paul, but I'm going to go with James Posey. Posey might be on suicide watch this season; he'll be splitting minutes with Julian Wright while watching his team struggle to make the playoffs. Despite 25 million green reasons to enjoy being in New Orleans, I'm willing to bet Posey misses Boston and those pregame hugs with Kevin Garnett. He's one hell of a competitor.
Tommy - Marcus Thornton. The local college star will have the chance to prove himself because of the wing void; I like his game - he reminds me of Courtney Lee- but I'm not sure he'll be big enough to guard Kobe, Roy, T-Mac, and the like out West.
TJ - At times it seems extremely difficult to watch Chris Paul because of his speed. (Hornets fans might need to invest in DVR or you could miss something) This year he will be back to business as usual proving that he is the best point guard in the NBA. And maybe making more shots like this one...
Jay – 46-36
Tommy – 48-34
TJ – 48-34