Hornets Riddled With Questions
For a team that had a good summer, the fall for the New Orleans Hornets has been anything but.
Center Emeka Okafor, acquired in a straight swap for Tyson Chandler, hasn't played a minute in the preseason. Head coach Byron Scott said he hopes to get Okafor some minutes on the two game west coast trip that will conclude the preseason.
Don't expect much from Okafor early. That is bad news for a team that clearly needs a low post presence who can defend, rebound and score the ball in the paint.
Another newcomer, forward Ike Diogu, is practicing despite a knee injury. Scott said he hopes to have Diogu back soon.
Diogu's willingness to practice, despite the pain and being less than 100 percent, has made him a big hit with Scott.
The Hornets would love to keep Julian Wright in the starting lineup. But I have yet to hear of a player playing effectively at the wing position in the NBA with no consistent outside shot. Have you?
Wright will, on occasion, knock down a 15 footer then come back soon after and miss badly. But if Wright can somehow be effective, that means 32-year old Peja Stojakovic can come off the bench and play fewer minutes in the twilight of a stellar NBA career.
At the off guard spot, LSU's Marcus Thornton has shown flashes of being special in the preseason. Thornton's ability to make three pointers and drive to the basket make him a real scoring threat. But he's a rookie, and at 6 foot 4 inches tall, can Thornton match up in man defense against some of the bigger 2 guards in the NBA?
Then there's the schedule. For a team with injuries and a host of new players, the NBA did not do the Hornets a favor. The first 10 games of the season include trips to San Antonio, Boston and the Los Angeles Lakers plus a home game with the young, talented Portland Trailblazers.
The early schedule is not conducive for a quick start.
On the plus side, backup point guard Bobby Brown appears to be a very solid pickup. Brown can knock down the three-ball and drive to the basket. His experience gives him an edge over first round pick Darren Collison for the second point guard spot.
Forward Darius Songalia, acquired in the same trade with Minnesota that garnered Brown, appears to have what the Hornets need, a big man who can come off the bench and make shots.
If head coach Byron Scott is concerned, he's not saying.
Scott said the challenge of getting his team back on or near the top of the West motivates. Exhausted on Monday night, he crashed after midnight and was in the office by 7:30 Tuesday morning.
So heading into the season, the Hornets are somewhat like they were at last season's end. They have Chris Paul and David West and then a handful of questions.
Re: Hornets Riddled With Questions
Well tonight starts the season....
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