Andre Gomes NBA New Orleans Hornets 2010-2011 Season Preview

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Andre Gomes NBA New Orleans Hornets 2010-2011 Season Preview

 

2009/10 Review:

The New Orleans Hornets entered last season with very high expectations. They were coming from 56 and 49 wins in the last two regular seasons and with a healthy Tyson Chandler starting the season and a solid draft yielded productive rookies, the Hornets were a virtual lock to go through the Playoffs, but they fell short of such main objective by winning “just” 37 games.

Of course playing without their best player for 37 games helps to explain such regression, but note that when Chris Paul went down for the first time in the season, the Hornets were 3-7, so they didn’t play particular well with or without Chris Paul. Nevertheless they had a terrific month of January in which they went 12-5 and were at the time 26-21, but Chris Paul got injured once again and the Hornets ran out of gas quickly.

Head coach Byron Scott was fired and replaced on the sidelines by former general manager Jeff Bower. They developed rookies Darren Collison and Marcus Thornton into serviceable players, but besides that, the Hornets didn’t show anything else in a competitive Southwest division.

2009/10 Advanced stats:

Pace            17th 95.6
Offense        17th 104.5
Defense        23th 107.2
Rebounds     26th -1.88

2010/11 Outlook:

Projected Depth Chart:

PG: Chris Paul, Jannero Pargo, D.J. Strawberry
SG: Marcus Thornton, Marco Belinelli, Willie Green
SF: Trevor Ariza, Peja Stojakovic, Quincy Pondexter
PF: David West, Darius Songaila, Craig Brackins, Pops Mensah-Bonsu
C: Emeka Okafor, Aaron Gray

Before the actual Carmelo Antony soap erupted in Denver, the Hornets were involved with a similar situation with Chris Paul. With a new ownership, new General Manager and new Head Coach, Chris Paul wasn’t sure about his future in New Orleans.

Eventually the Hornets got on the same page with their franchise player, but there is a sense of urgency to improve this season.

Monty Williams will be the youngest head coach in the NBA and his experience naturally isn’t much. In 2005, Williams was hired by head coach Nate McMillan as an assistant coach for the Portland Trail Blazers and now he has the opportunity to be head coach of the Hornets. Williams said he plans for the Hornets to be an up-tempo team behind All-Star point guard Chris Paul, but his emphasis will be toward becoming a better defensive team.

CP3 is a franchise player as he has the ability to make his teammates better players like Steve Nash is doing in Phoenix. He is labeled as being the best Point Guard in the league and actually his numbers support that claim. Even in an injury riddled season, Paul averaged 18.7ppg, 10.7apg, 4.2rpg and 2.10 steals per game last season. He showed some improvement on his outside shot as for the first time in his career he reached the 40% mark behind the arc. With him running the show, the Hornets have the potential to compete for any game, but it’s imperative for the franchise to count with a healthy CP3.

To compete for Paul’s backup job the Hornets signed Willie Green and Jannero Pargo. Pargo’s acquisition could be more symbolic of Paul’s comfort level with the direction of the new regime as he and Pargo are close friends. Remember that Pargo also was Paul’s backup in 2007-08, the best season in the history of the franchise.

Monty Williams wants his team to run a lot more instead of the half-court, pick-and-roll offense installed by Byron Scott in the past and so the Hornets got some players for such propose.

In the offseason the Hornets gave Collison and veteran small forward James Posey to the Indiana Pacers and the Hornets acquired Trevor Ariza from the Houston Rockets.

Ariza averaged 14.9 points, 5.6 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game last season, but it was far from being successful season. In the Lakers he had a residual role on the offensive end, but for the Rockets he was forced to be a primary weapon and that’s when the struggles begun. He went from attempting 7.3 FG/game within the Lakers to 13.9 for the Rockets last season, while shooting just 39.4% from the field and 33.4% behind the arc.

Now in New Orleans, Ariza will benefit immensely for playing alongside Chris Paul. In an up tempo system his athleticism will help Chris Paul to got some looks in transition and we can expect him to be present in some top ten plays of the week with vicious dunks. Let’s also not forget that he is considered one of the best defensive players at his position in the NBA and the Hornets are improved at the Small Forward position.

With a losing season on the horizon the Hornets decided to give to their rookies some playing time and Marcus Thornton took advantage of it last season. His definition as a player is simple: a scorer! He averaged 14.5 points per game, while shooting 45% from the field, but as a starter he raised the bar to a whopping 19.8 points per game while playing along with….Darren Collison! Likely he’ll be a starter this season and the Hornets will have a short in size backcourt duo but with plenty of speed and scoring ability.

The Hornets also got Marco Belinelli from Toronto and we can expect him coming off the bench and provide more offensive power to the team. His career in the NBA has been a bit disappointing, but he needs more confidence and playing time to able to fulfill his potential, maybe New Orleans is “that place”.

For Peja Stojakovic this will be the last year of his mammoth contract. Peja has suffered plenty of injuries in the last years and probably he won’t play injury free basketball for the rest of his career. He is known for his incredible shooting range, but his last 2 years stats aren’t pretty to watch: 39.9 and 40.4% from the field! In an up tempo system Peja will get plenty of open looks, lets see if he is able to knock them down.

For the future and who knows for the present the Hornets drafted Quincy Pondexter from Washington. Pondexter is one of the rookies that due to his experience are ready to contribute right away.

The Hornets didn’t make any substantial move to improve their frontcourt, so David West would have to carry the load once again this season. He enjoyed a solid season last year by averaging 19.0 points per game, while shooting 50.5% from the field however his defense has been “questionable” at best. For the second consecutive season his rebounds and blocks numbers have decreased and that’s not a good sign for a player that will compete against Zack Randolph, Luis Scola, Dirk Nowitzki and Tim Duncan in the same division! Nevertheless, having Chris Paul back will help him to reach another All-Star caliber season.

If the Hornets want to be a playoff contender team, then necessarily Emeka Okafor will have to enjoy a monster season. In his first season as a Hornet, Okafor didn’t enjoy the confidence of both head coaches, as he logged only 28.9 minutes per game – career low numbers! Naturally his numbers decreased across the board: points, rebounds, blocks and even FG%, which were strange because the Hornets didn’t have others reliable options down low. With a new head coach and a new system maybe it’s time for Okafor to have a breakout season, is my opinion this is X factor for the Hornets this season for being a playoff team or a mere lottery team because behind Okafor the Hornets have Darius Songaila, Aaron Gray and Craig Brackins and this isn’t a loaded frontcourt for them.

The Hornets are one of the dark horses for this season in the league, as no one exactly knows what they are worth. Having a truly superstar playing for them is a good start, but it will be all about the chemistry between the players and their new head coach and system that will dictate the final outcome.

  • Bad news for the Hornets:

    The New Orleans Hornets released backup combo guard Jannero Pargo on Tuesday. Team officials said Pargo's surgically repaired knee wasn't progressing quickly enough.

    Pargo, who signed a free-agent contract with the team just before training camp, was in his second tour of duty with the Hornets.