The New Orleans Hornets are two games into the season and the proud owners of a spotless 2-0 record after their 101-95 win against the Denver Nuggets on Friday night. Already however, the Hornets have travelled a million miles on the highway of progress that started with the first game of the preseason.
Rookie GM Dell Demps looks like a genius as does rookie coach Monty Williams, both getting high marks for their magical acts. While there are still 80 games to go, who would have guessed this team which has recently been put together from spare parts, would not be falling all over themselves? You can even point to the preseason and despite getting only one win, there was a conservative improvement from game to game.
Yes, the Hornets are playing like a unit that has been playing together far longer than the measly month that they actually have been. They have played a good team in the Milwaukee Bucks and an even better team in the Denver Nuggets and won. These were well deserved wins where both teams on the floor were playing well.
Coach Williams is making a difference. His lessons are becoming intrinsic to his flock, as they absorb his essential and fundamental teachings that are now on display for all to see. The Hornets scored 42 points in the paint compared to the Nuggets' 34, a vast improvement over their effort against the Bucks. The Hornets also had 13 fast break points to the Nuggets' 6, a good sign for the run-and-gun offense that CP3 and Williams are implementing.
The only negatives that the Hornets were able to correct in the end, was their inability to hold on to a seemingly insurmountable lead of 16 at one point, as well as starting the game by letting the Nuggets takeoff on an 8-0 run. What this shows however, is not only are the Hornets not scared to run down a good team when behind, but also their ability to generate a lead from their potentially explosive offense.
While no Hornet had a breakout game, all the starters as well as the entire bench played very well exhibiting chemistry that will take them far this season. Their defense was also very well executed.
You can hear the big sighs of relief resonating out of The Big Easy because this team may not be as big a work in progress as many had thought.
This is very exciting news for the city of New Orleans and its sports fans. Chris Paul wants to be competitive, and he as well as his teammates are sending echoes of this message to the NBA.
Achieving team chemistry during this transition period will obviously be a big factor that will lead to the Hornets’ success, but so far so good.
Consider this: It was not that long ago (2007-08) when CP3 took the reins of the Hornets and led them to the second best record (56-26) in the very tough Western Conference. This has become the Hornet's benchmark season, the best in franchise history. Paul led his team while handing in an amazing 20-10 season average.
That year the Hornets finished first in the South West.
It is therefore, not inconceivable for this stellar point guard to repeat, and even surpass that performance this season. Especially since he has better talent (comparatively) to work with, and CP3 is only 25 years old!
Indeed, all the pieces are coming together, and Paul is over the injury that had cost him a good chunk of last season. The big reason that contributed to New Orleans first losing season since the team came to the Big Easy.
Both leaders of the Hornets including David West are contributing by setting an example and helping their new teammates.
You can see this team is hungry by just looking in their eyes… these Hornets are starting to sting!