Chris Paul, Emeka Okafor and The Surprising New Orleans Hornets

Ethan Norof@ethan_norofCorrespondent INovember 18, 2010

The Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat and Boston Celtics continue to get the majority of the love from around the league, but why isn't anyone talking about the dominating New Orleans Hornets?

Off to a flying 9-1 start, Chris Paul is showing everyone that his Hornets belong smack dab in the middle of the playoff conversation when discussing the Western Conference.

Although nobody thought much of the team with a rookie head coach, it's clear that there's a renewed sense of motivation throughout everyone in the organization. 

With wins against Milwaukee (twice), San Antonio, Denver, Miami, Houston, Los Angeles (Clippers), Portland and Dallas, it's not like they're being handed easy games.

Each one of the aforementioned teams are legitimate playoff contenders outside of the Clippers, further evidencing why the Hornets' play has been so impressive. 

Besides the dynamic play of CP3, the team has really been benefiting from a re-vamped Emeka Okafor. It's not that the UConn product had been bad in the past, but this year he's taken his game to a new level.

Showing a proclivity to not only be a rebounding machine but also score the rock as well, Okafor's success in the post has really opened up the floor for the perimeter shooters. The additions of Marco Belinelli and Trevor Ariza have provided an aspect to the team that had previously been missing.

While the team certainly can't afford to lose a key cog to injury, as long as they stay healthy there's no reason to believe that this team can't make some noise come playoff time. 

Remember, it's really not all that long ago that many were talking about the Hornets as a legitimate title contender, and while that's unlikely to happen this season, they're certainly taking a step in the right direction. 

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