Analyzing the NEW ORLEANS/oklahoma city* Hornets' Off-Season
As previously mentioned, the NEW ORLEANS/oklahoma city* Hornets have been very busy in the off-season. The team was nearly a playoff team last year, but it fell apart after the Chris Andersen incident. I feel confident that the moves make the team better, and probably a playoff team. Here's what happened:
PEJA STOJAKOVIC (FREE AGENT): The Hornets needed another reliable scoring threat to help Chris Paul. Most experts have concentrated on how he may be a free agent "bust" because his productivity has been declining. But if he hit 3s and get about 18 a night, he'll be just fine for the Hornets.
TYSON CHANDLER (TRADE WITH BULLS): This guy will be the Hornets' starting center for the next few years. He's got the size and is a good rebounder and shot blocker, but he doesn't score much. He's also got a huge contract that is not favorable. The addition of Stojakovic should make up for his lack of offensive skills.
BOBBY JACKSON (FREE AGENT): I liked this guy when he was with the Kings. He's a good backup to Chris Paul. He can give the team a backcourt scoring threat off the bench. The only negative I can find about him is that he has had recent injury problems.
HILTON ARMSTRONG AND CEDRIC SIMMONS (1st ROUND OF DRAFT): The Hornets needed to fix its frontcourt. Neither of these guys are probably big-time scoring options. But they were picked up for defense and shot-blocking. Armstrong is taller, but Simmons probably has more potential. Knowing how the draft is a crap-shoot, I'd settle for one of these guys being pretty good in the future. Historical odds are that one of the two will be okay, and the other will not.
MARCUS VINCIUS (2nd ROUND OF DRAFT): This Brazilian player sounds more like a Roman Emperor than a basketball player. He's a scorer who can play forward or guard, but he doesn't have much of a chance to contribute this year, if he even makes the team.
P.J. BROWN (TRADE WITH BULLS): I don't like losing him because he is a class act and local product (LA Tech). But he's at the very end of his career, and the Hornets may have been able to get their center of the future by trading him. I hope the team can find someone to assume his leadership role on the team.
J.R. SMITH (TRADE WITH BULLS): This guy has tons of talent, but he doesn't sound like he's a team player. It's a shame that we've already had to give up on him, because he could become an explosive scorer. But the Bulls have already traded him again (to the Denver Nuggets), and it will be hard for him to contribute over there too.
SPEEDY CLAXTON (FREE AGENT--ATLANTA): It would have been nice to keep him. But you can't blame him for leaving. He will get a chance to start in Atlanta. Over here, he was Chris Paul's backup at best. And Bobby Jackson will take his spot on the team.
KIRK SNYDER (TRADED TO HOUSTON): He didn't do much after the team acquired him last year. It's not much of a loss.
ARVYDAS MACIJAUSKAS (RELEASED): He was last year's "big free agent acquisition." He was supposed to be the next great European sharp-shooter and instant starter at shooting guard, but he never fit in.
MOOCHIE NORRIS (RELEASED): Not much of a player. Not much of a loss. The team can find a better and younger player.
PROJECTED HORNETS ROSTER IN 06-07:
CHRIS PAUL (G) STARTER
DESMOND MASON (G) STARTER
PEJA STOJAKOVIC (F) STARTER
DAVID WEST (F) STARTER
TYSON CHANDLER (C) STARTER
BOBBY JACKSON (G)
RASAUL BUTLER (F)
CEDRIC SIMMONS (F)
BRANDON BASS, AARON WILLIAMS OR MARCUS VINCIUS (F)
HILTON ARMSTRONG (F-C)
MARC JACKSON (C)
Wow. It's a hell of a lot different from when the team was last in New Orleans full-time. Only David West is still there from the post-Baron Davis flameout. This team has gotten better in a hurry, and it proves that you don't need to be bad for 5 years before you can compete again. Now this team is hardly a title contender. It's too young, and the team needs more offensive options. But this is going to be a fun team to watch, even if it's mostly on television from Oklahoma City for one last year. This should be one hell of a team when (if) they return to New Orleans full time in 2007.
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