With Tyson Chandler now averaging a mere six points and six rebounds in Charlotte, Rasual Butler in La La Land, and the former head coach Byron Scott looking for a career in broadcasting, it seems the Hornets are doomed for eternal mediocrity.
However after all of these somewhat significant losses, the Hornets have rallied to not only pull themselves above .500 (quite a feat in itself) but now find themselves a couple of games out of the Western conference playoffs.
From a basketball standpoint the Hornets seem to be finding a groove. Devin Brown has come from no where to fill what Mo Peterson once did, hit threes and score when needed. Emeka Okafor and Chris Paul are working the Pick and Roll with improved success and David West has finally found the touch to score he once lacked earlier in the season.
Defensively the Hornets still seem lost in transition (literal and figuratively speaking). Time and time again players turn to each other looking at one another as if to ask, "who had that guy?" Yes, there has been an improvement in rotations and communication but the Hornets are lacking that edge where once (2007-08) they got going, they pounded on you until you would give up.
An indication of this is the margin of victory for the Hornets. The only Hornets victory of 10 or more came against the Clippers under Byron Scott. Sure winning close games can do a lot for a team when the situation arises against teams like the Lakers, Celtics, Nuggets and Spurs, but what good does it do when the Hornets consistently beat woeful teams by the narrowest of margins?
It wears out your starters, the young guns don't get trash time and my heart beats faster than a bongo drum.
These digressions leave me with the thought that this team won't achieve anything great. Greatness usually occurs when players just dominate every possession. Yet the Hornets starting lineup doesn't seem to have those possessions where as a fan you say, "you cannot stop that move."
The only time I find myself saying something of that manner is when CP and Emeka run the pick and roll to an extreme level. It is the other facets of the Hornets game that will hold them down when trying to beat the teams in the top 8 of Marc Stein's esteemed Power Rankings (note: Sarcasm).
Peja Stojakovic is either clanking the threes or swishing them, but when he's not doing either you can find him "defending" some of the great Small Forwards the NBA has to offer. Other players who seem to hinder rather than hasten the Hornets success are found on the bench. James Posey can look very good when knocking down three's and shutting down players, but this seldom happens in the same game.
Darren Collison seemed to be one of the best backup PG's in the league when he took over for CP and killed a number of teams, now demoted he hasn't shined like he did with extended minutes. Getting production out of Julian Wright is like asking Hilton Armstrong too. About the only consistent player to fit in with the Hornets is Darius Songaila who does what is asked of him, Pick and Pop, shoot, and rebound.
The bench doesn't seems to be the biggest of problems as these days they aren't giving up leads they once did with Byron Scott. But still they lack a direction and defensive swagger that the Hornets once had in their playoff run 2 long seasons ago.
The offensive sets are progressing with off-ball movement encouraged. The defense is again progressing with rotations improving. But the progression will not be enough in order for the Hornets to rally into the playoffs and make a push.
I know that most of us, including myself, don't believe that we will do all that much this year when it comes to making a case in and towards the playoffs. Discounting this season and the next is absurd because one day time will run out, CP will be 30, David West will be 35, Emeka 32, and who's to say they will all still be on the team?
I am not giving up on the Hornets, but by god they better show me over the next two months why they might be able to achieve something better than expected, and most importantly special.