New Orleans Hornets
To say the Hornet’s offseason was tumultuous might be an understatement. The team hired a new GM, a new coach and dealt with their star player’s trade demands. I’m sure the front office is just happy to start the season at this point but typically uneasiness in the offseason does not translate well to success during the season. After trades and draft day deals, let’s take a look at the Hornets and my prediction for this season.
Trevor Ariza – Ariza was able to parlay success with a talented Lakers team to a big contract with the Rockets last year. Unfortunately, Ariza is not the stud the Rockets hoped for so they dealt him to the Hornets as part of a four-team trade. I think Ariza can contribute but I’m not sure he’s going to yield the results needed from a player with his cap number.
Aaron Gray – This isn’t a bad pickup given the Hornets need for a backup center and the cost. If Gray can watch his weight, he could be a great value.
Monty Williams – Williams was a highly-regarded assistant with the Blazers and could prove to be the right leader of this team. His handling of Paul’s trade demands was textbook in talking a player off the ledge. Unfortunately for Monty, he has taken over a team that doesn’t have a lot of depth and is plagued by cash-strapped ownership. However, if he lives up to the hype of his potential as a head coach and his starting five stay healthy, he could have success in New Orleans…time will tell.
Losses from Last Season
Darren Collison, James Posey, Julian Wright, Morris Peterson – This is another example of the luxury tax getting the better of a team. The Hornets unloaded these guys to cut costs and while only Collison has long-term potential, it was a huge blow to their team depth.
Unlike some other teams that have position battles going into the season, the Hornets starting five is set. In all honesty, I like their starting five a lot. It’s the lack of depth behind these guys that could prove to be their downfall. Here’s how I see the rotation:
PG – Chris Paul, Mustafa Shakur
SG – Marcus Thornton, Marco Belinelli, Willie Green
SF – Trevor Ariza, Peja Stojakovic, Quincy Pondexter, Joe Alexander
PF – David West, Jason Smith
C – Emeka Okafor, Aaron Gray, Pops Mensah-Bonsu
Projected Record: 41-41
There is no denying that the Hornets starting five has playoff potential. With CP3 returning to form and the emergence of Marcus Thornton, they have a very formidable backcourt. West and Okafor provide nice size and skill-set down low. Again, though, it’s the lack of depth that concerns me. The Hornets division alone boasts much more talented rosters with the likes of the Mavericks, Spurs and Rockets. Look for New Orleans to be in the thick of things for a playoff spot but an afterthought in the division race. Also, Paul claims he is now happy in the Big Easy and has no desire to be traded but if the season gets off to a rocky start, look for them to possibly move him.
– Edwards –