It's not that 2-5 is that disastrous of a start considering the tough early schedule, but going back to last year Scott's Hornets have won only three of their last 14 games. In those games they were outscored by 167 points (12 a game).
To put that in perspective, last year the Sacramento Kings were the worst team in the NBA at 17-65. They were outscored by less than nine points per game.
Fortunately for the Hornets' faithful, they have been able to squeak out wins versus the Mavericks (a game they can expect to win one in fifty times), and a nail biter against the futile Kings at home.
They haven't lost a single close game. When the final buzzer sounded of each loss there were reserves a plenty on the court. The Hornets are actually LUCKY to be 2-5.
What's astounding is that Byron Scott has no explanation for the losses. He can't understand why there isn't enough hustle, and where the energy went. The team is better on paper now than they were last year.
The players are relatively healthy, and Okafor, despite missing all of the preseason is playing great averaging 12 points, 11 boards, and two blocks in only 31 minutes per game.
Paul is having arguably his best year ever. His defense has improved tremendously, despite a decrease in steals. His ability to move around screens is probably as advanced as anyone in the league right now. CP3 has quickly become a lockdown defender.
His offensive numbers are outrageous. The other day he shot 13-24, and three-of-four from beyond the arc, and it DECREASED both shooting percentages. He's averaging 26.6 points on 62 percent shooting, 10 assists, and only 2.4 turnovers.
So what's the matter with this Hornets team?
First off, the lineups have been horrible. The group that sits next to me at games has commented dozens of times now about who is on the floor, and it's pretty pitiful at times.
Songaila, Armstrong, Peja, Posey, and Bobby Brown has been a favorite of Byron's recently, despite their horrid performances. It's a lineup that moves at a snails pace, isn't athletic, can't create their own shot, can't play defense, and has no ball movement.
Four times this year, teams have gone on runs of more than fifteen point swings in less than eight minutes. For some reason he doesn't call timeouts when this happens. He just allows essentially the same unit to stay on the floor getting creamed.
What are even more puzzling, are his decisions about when to play Chris Paul. Last year he tried to sit Paul the first six minutes of the second quarter, and the first six of the fourth. Often that led to Paul playing 40 a game if the game was close in the fourth.
This year he's been sitting Paul after only six minutes are gone in the first quarter, often leaving him out until a few minutes into the second quarter, and then again in the third quarter. When he leaves the floor we get creamed, because for some reason Scott insists on taking out West, Okafor, or both.
Aside from a blowout, a teams Top-Three players should never all be on the bench. There shouldn't even be more than a few minutes when two out of three are, yet at every game I look down, and see five bench players on the floor for the Hornets. They always are outscored, incapable of even running basic offensive sets. On defense they look lost, rarely even contesting shots.
After trading Rasual Butler this offseason, Owner George Shinn had this to say, "When we moved Rasual Butler, the idea is with the young people we have at that position (including rookies Darren Collison, and Marcus Thornton, and ex-No. 1 pick Julian Wright) we want to develop these guys."
Scott hasn't let either of the draft picks see a single minute of meaningful time. Julian is averaging only twenty two minutes in his make, or break year.
After a rare home less to Toronto, Scott had this to say, “For the life of me, I can't understand why we came out with that type of energy. We just kind of allowed them to run their offense and take the shots that they had."
Perhaps he could add some energy to his team by playing some high energy rookies? No? OK...Well let's just keep allowing Posey to get burned by everything in sight. What happened to his defense? I don't think he can guard a decent college player anymore, let alone Kobe Bryant.
Posey doesn't even shoot the ball anymore. Fouling is a more likely result of his being on the floor than it is for him to make a shot, yet he's out there for 20 minutes a night while the young guys ride the pine. Even more than Peja, he's a shadow of his former self.
We want to be competitive. We want to see some energy. Unless Byron Scott changes his entire method of coaching, he isn't the coach we need. In my next article I'll reveal some possible replacements.
In New Orleans we understand that this might not be our best year. We get that the luxury tax level is expected to down again, and that we are STILL projected to be over it despite shedding almost $10 million this offseason. As a small market we realize that we need to be under that line most years in order to be financially viable. These things are not the problem.
If you aren't winning with veterans, and you aren't capable of developing players (see JR Smith, Birdman, Julian Wright, Hilton Armstrong), then what business do you have coaching an NBA team?
Lastly, Paul has expressed his displeasure with Scott, although not in those terms. If you read between the lines it's pretty clear how he's not too happy.
In the NBA, an unhappy superstar, and a losing team that doesn’t exert themselves on either end of the floor almost always equates to the coach losing his job.
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