As the New Orleans Hornets continue their surge toward the postseason, it’s becoming more and more clear who they are, and who they are not.
After the recent Hilton Armstrong dump, it appears this team as built will both make the playoffs, and keep it’s core intact. While that’s certainly good news for this year, fans can’t help but be concerned going forward.
- David West, Emeka Okafor, and Chris Paul are among the best big-three in the league. As they continue to develop their chemistry, the results will get better and better.
- Marcus Thornton looks great. You can tell he’s gaining confidence with each passing game. His energy and hustle play a big part in our game plan and it appears as of now that he’s the steal of the draft, along with DeJuan Blair.
- Chris Paul has undoubtedly been the leader of the Hornets for some time now, but it’s only recently that he has started taking the clutch shots. In the past he has deferred to teammates David West or Peja Stojakovic, but now it appears that he considered himself the first option and them more of secondary targets. Paul hasn’t disappointed, blowing by opponents at will for dozens of lay ups in the waning seconds.
- Coach Jeff Bower and Tim Floyd appear to know what to do. Sure they are trying some new stuff with lineups, but thus far there haven’t been too many complaints. Winning tends to quiet the critics.
- The team desperately needs another big man, especially if West, Okafor, or Songaila were to get hurt. As of now, Posey is playing as a small four, which simply won’t work against bigger, deeper teams. Without any salary cap space to work with it doesn’t appear help is on the way. It’s odd to even think this, but Sean Marks will have a huge impact when he returns.
- Lack of luxury tax space going forward. The Hornets head into next year above the projected luxury tax line, which will again make them sellers instead of buyers in the traditional sense. On the other hand, they will have the valuable expiring contracts of Peja and Morris Peterson, which can be used to acquire players from teams looking to shed salary.
- Chris Paul is still hurt. It may not look like it since he’s throwing up god-like stat lines, but the evidence is clear. Coming in from the off season he was shooting over 60 percent from the floor. After his injury he’s closer to 40 percent. Missing jumpers is a clear sign that a player doesn’t have his legs under him. It’s unfortunate that the team lost so many games early on.
- Paul needs rest, but in order to get him some, the team needs win enough games to assure a playoff spot. Without CP3, they tend to lose. The situation is very similar to last year, when the Hornets burned Paul throughout the second half of the season and simply ran out of steam against a relatively healthy and rested Denver squad.