The New Orleans Hornets coming into this off-season needed to make some drastic changes in order to keep their perennial superstar, Chris Paul on the team.
They started out well,by adding a few good draft choices in Quincy Pondexter and Craig Brackins.
Then their were threats from Chris Paul, saying that he was going to leave the team for the Knicks.
Thank god, Monty Williams and new ownership was able to convince Paul otherwise.
Lastly, the Hornets needed to add another option to Paul and West, and I think they might have done that with Trevor Ariza.
Chris Paul, where do you eve start with this guy? Sure I may be biased, but he is the best point guard in the league.
It was only one season ago when Chris Paul was bring praised as the best point guard in the league hands down. Talks of him becoming the leagues MVP over LeBron were heating up down the stretch of the season.
During that year, Paul was simply unstoppable.
He was doing it all, and on both sides of the ball, offensively and defensively.
Paul was destroying defenders on the offensive side, and blowing by top defensive stoppers in the league with ease. Nothing was stopping him on the offensive side. He was developing his range, and started to knock down contested three point shots. Nothing that he even attempted in his first few seasons in the league.
Paul as well as improving his scoring abilities, he is a well rounded point guard. He is a terrific and creative passer, that will always find the open player, no matter where he is on the court.
Paul is best in the transition when he is able to use his lightning fast speed to blow by defenders, or launch alley-oop passes to Tyson Chandler.
And on the defensive side Paul is always the top player in the steals category. At one point he had at least one steal in 108 straight games. He is always up for a challenge, and always guarding the teams opposing top player.
Then, coming into this past season, everything was going good for Paul. He along LeBron were the pre-season favorites to win the MVP award. But things took a turn for Paul when he suffered a torn meniscus in his left knee. And was only able to play 45 games last season.
When this happened everyone for some odd reason, just totally disregarded Paul because he was not able to play. But what I do not understand is why is a player a top two MVP candidate one season, and then the next season you have guys like Rondo and Rose ahead of him?
Well, going in this upcoming season Paul will have the biggest chip on his shoulder of any other player in the league. With Collison playing great when Paul was injured, critics and people on this website, said it was a terrible trade to get rid of Collison, because he is a stud.
People Paul is only 25! And for those who say, "well Paul is going to leave in a few seasons anyways". Well what do you think Collison will do when his rookie contract is up?
Anyways, going into next season Paul will be out to prove everyone wrong, and I believe he will just do so. Paul still has all the tools to be a top MVP candidate again come next season, so why does no one see that? He is only one season removed from an MVP season.
David West has to be in the discussion guaranteed when the conversation for top power forwards in the league is discussed.
But, like usual, West never gets the credit that a player averaging 19 points and 8 rebounds, who has made two All-Star appearances should.
Another point that bothers me when talking about David West is why does no one give him credit for being the sidekick to Paul? Once the Ariza deal was finalized, most writers, even on this website, were writing how Ariza is not going to be a good second option to rely on for Paul. Totally disregarding West, and what he has done for the Hornets. This is just another reason why West never gets the respect he deserves.
West is a do it all type player that can power opponents in the low post with his large frame, long arms, and great footwork around the rim.
But, West is also a great passer and shooter for a big man, and uses that to his advantage when defenders choose to back off of him. He will then knock down the 12-15 foot jump shot.
Once the defenders realize he can shoot, West will blow by defenders, as you see in this picture, for the easy two.
West is a good defensive player and uses his body to out power defenders, and uses his long arms to block shots.
West is going to come in every season and give the Hornets 19 points and 8-10 rebounds easily. He along with Paul, Ariza, and Marcus Thornton will determine the success of the Hornets.
West is the perfect teammate that has no baggage or off court troubles. Which could be a reason why he never makes headlines. But West will be the main reason for the Hornets success next season.
Chris Paul, 25
Chris Paul is simply Chris Paul. The best point guard in the game. Do I need much more of an explanation?
Macro Belinelli, 24
The recently acquired Italian sharp shooting shooting guard, will come in and give the Hornets much needed three point shooting from the shooting guard position. He is a natural scorer that can also play the point, and has unlimited range when shooting the three.
Marcus Thornton, 23
Thornton is a pure scorer form the shooting guard position. Has a lot of fancy moves up his sleeve in order to blow by defenders. Is a great shooter and has huge range.
Craig Brackins, 22
Brackins is a true old school power forward, that does nothing fancy but gets the job done. Uses his 7'0 wingspan to grab rebounds and block shots. He is a great mind-range to three point shooter for his position, and does have the quickness to play the small forward position.
Quincy Pondexter, 22
He can play both wing positions. He can shoot like a two guard, and rebound like a forward. He is a good forward. He is one of the most mature and NBA ready players of the rookies, and will get some good minutes from the Hornets this season.
Trevor Ariza, 25
Ariza is long and very athletic, he can run the floor very well and is able to guard many positions with his wingspan and quickness. And showing signs of a shut down defender, and is starting to develop a offensive game.
One of the big things to take care of going into the off-season for the Hornets management, was keeping Chris Paul happy.
When he was talking about leaving the Hornets for the Knicks, and wanting a trade. It was pandamonium for Hornets management and Hornets fan alike.
When he was injured, Darren Collison came in and played terrific in Paul's absence, and the talks of him being better than Paul (which is far from true). And that the Hornets should trade Paul so that Collison can come in and be the teams leader.
First of all, this is nonsense, and Paul is the superior player and will be for as long as both are in the league together.
Anyways, getting back to the point.
The Hornets needed to do something in order to keep their perennial All-Star happy and humble going into next season.
And they did just that by trading away Collison, the biggest competition to him. To guarantee that Paul was going to be the starting point guard, and that the Hornets were still very high up on Paul
So, going into next season Paul will be much happier than before the off-season started. Knowing that he is the Hornets main guy, and the leader for them bringing up the ball.
Every season we see many teams have very low expectations going into the season and surprise many.
Whether it is teams make the playoffs like the Oklahoma City Thunder Thunder of last season, or teams that just flat out surprised when they were supposed to falter like the Memphis Grizzlies and Yaoless Rockets.
Going into next season the Hornets are not even projected of making the playoffs in the Western Conference.
Which is another reason why they will surprise many, because they have no real expectations of doing anything come next season.
The Hornets will have a very young team, but are all talented.
They will have the leagues best point guard back and healthy. The most underrated player in the league will continue to do his thing, and put up 19 points and 8 rebounds without any question.
With all these none expectations for the Hornets if you would say, it only leaves a bigger chip on the shoulder of the teams leader, Chris Paul to lead the team and overcome all this negativity and obstacles and lead his team to the playoffs.
Projected Starting Line-Up
PG: Chris Paul
SG: Marcus Thornton
SF: Trevor Ariza
PF: David West
C: Emeka Okafor
6th Man: Peja Stojakovic
7th Man: Quincy Pondexter
8th Man: Marco Belinelli
9th Man: Craig Brackins
10th Man: Darius Songaila
11th Man: Aaron Gray
The Hornets one through four have a starting four that compete with many in this league. Okafor will be the wildcard, being a bit undersized, it will be interesting to see how Monty Williams uses Okafor next season and if they can mold him into the player he was supposed to be in Charlotte.
Paul is going to Paul and be the best point guard out there.
Thornton is the pure scorer.
Ariza will be the defensive stopper, who is starting to produce on the offensive side, and will bring another 15 points to the Hornets.
West, will continue to the most underrated player in this league, and just score and rebound, and maybe even make another All-Star without anyone noticing.
The Hornets bench has a lot of talent. Great three point shooters in Belinelli and Peja.
A NBA ready wing player in Pondexter.
Another rookie in Brackins who is a big body that can play both inside and outside, and is also a very good defender at his young age.
Though the Hornets are lacking a back-up point guard, and a back-up center that can actually play. So once they are able to add those weapons to their roster.
The Hornets will be ready to compete in the West, surprise many and creep into the playoffs as the No. 7 seed.