October 26, 2010
Last year's record? 37-45, missed playoffs.
Projected record, as predicted three months ago in time to publish in Yahoo! Sports' NBA Preview Magazine? 44-38
Why I think that sounds about right?
Because, until we hear differently, the best point guard in the NBA will be playing a full season of basketball for the New Orleans Hornets.
This could change in an instant. As it was last year, all it takes is an ankle turn to create a pear-shaped reality for the Hornets, but it does bear mentioning that Chris Paul(notes) has enjoyed three healthy seasons to two gimpy seasons in his five-year run. He's had two bad breaks, which doesn't exactly remind us of Bill Walton at this point.
And that's really all I have in New Orleans' favor right now. This team has a very good starting five, and with Paul on board in a seven-game series anything can happen. I trust new GM Dell Demps based on his time spent with the San Antonio Spurs, but his initial offseason returns (as listed above) really leave a lot to be desired. At whatever cost, these aren't roster fillers to get excited about.
Why I think I might be terribly, terribly wrong?
The team has a new coach that appears to prefer the contributions of Marco Belinelli over the work of a player who might be one of the best young shooting guards this league has to offer.
We should approach Monty Williams' first gig as head man with a glass half-full line of thinking, but we should also be wary of anyone who isn't completely smitten with the work that Marcus Thornton(notes) put in last season. On top of that, the team dumped one of this league's better young point guards for a middling player in Trevor Ariza that chucks like a superstar, the team's depth is nonexistent, and Paul reportedly wanted out of this mess even before the trade that swapped Darren Collison for Ariza.
This is a team to root for, because Paul is so brilliant, and there are so many underrated parts (everyone really needs to watch Emeka Okafor(notes), now that he's been needlessly humbled). But the ceiling is limited, even if Paul and David West(notes) are a two-man act for our time.
Mark Eaton rhymes ...
Made-up limericks about "going for it" in the NBA regular season and in life, from the 7-foot-4 former Utah Jazz center and current celebrity motivational speaker.
Okafor is an adequate center.
He rebounds and guards all who enter
The paint. Though he's not
A star at that spot,
He's better than Gray and Mbenga.
Let's take a closer look at Pops Mensah-Bonsu(notes), who is having a rough day.