In order for the New Orleans Hornets to rise from Western Conference bottom feeder to playoff team, they'll have to limit costly mistakes this season. The Hornets enter this season with a retooled roster, hopeful expectations and a new attitude.
The Hornets also find themselves in a deep conference with no room for error. New Orleans is a couple years away from being title contenders, but they can make the playoffs this year if things bounce their way. They have a good, young core in forward Anthony Davis and guards Austin Rivers and Eric Gordon.
They have rising star in the coaching ranks in Monty Williams and they have a wise GM in Dell Demps, who has done a masterful job in rebuilding this franchise. There is reason for hope in the Big Easy for the first time in a long time. That doesn't mean the Hornets don't still have a ways to go.
With so many teams vying for playoff spots in the West, the bottom half of the playoff bracket will more than likely be filled by the teams that made the least amount of mistakes. Teams such as Portland, Minnesota and Golden State are all looking to return to the postseason as well and will give New Orleans a tough run.
It's going to be a battle royal this season out West. The Hornets will need to be smart and not fall victim to many of the perils that engulf young teams. The road back to respectability is steep, but it's not an impossible journey.
The biggest obstacles facing New Orleans are the ones that can't be accounted for. They need to stay healthy as well as find a way to be a cohesive unit despite all the new pieces that were added over the summer. Those are issues that will be monitored over time.
For now, here are five costly mistakes that the Hornets need to avoid in a 2012-13 season filled with hope and high expectations.