Let me make this apparent — I’m not declaring the Hornets to necessarily be a bad team. It’s just the notion that their current roster is one that can win the Western Conference, or that they are a top five team in the NBA, is ludicrous.
This isn’t intended to be a slight on Chris Paul — quite the opposite. He should have been the MVP last year, and could be this year. To me, there is no one more valuable to his team than Chris Paul is to the Hornets. Moreover, because of this, it’s why his team is so susceptible to failure.
The best analogy I can use is that the Hornets are sort of like a snake — cut off its head and the body will wither and die. The Hornets are successful because of one player — Chris Paul. If you take him out of the game (which isn’t necessarily a regular occurrence), you can win. Because if you force the other Hornets to beat you, nine times out of 10 they won’t.
Hartnett’s argument is sound. Three of the top five players in “On Court/Off Court” stats are members of the Hornets. Two of those players — Tyson Chandler and Peja Stojakovic — are completely dependent upon the third.
The Hornets are far too reliant on Chris Paul. And most of New Orleans’ over-reliance revolves around the Chris Paul/Tyson Chandler pick-and-roll. Virtually all of New Orleans’ offensive sets run through Paul — and rightfully so — Paul’s ballhandling, passing and court awareness make him the most dominating point guard in the league. But New Orleans’ offense comes to a grinding halt when Paul goes to the bench.
The Antonio Daniels acquisition was a step in the right direction. However, Daniels is incapable of running the pick-and-roll as efficiently as Paul. As At The Hive pointed out today, it’s incumbent upon coach Byron Scott to implement schemes to keep the Hornets afloat while Paul rests.
Hartnett argues that the Hornets need more playmakers. I think they need a go-to scorer. David West is capable, but lacks the alpha dog mentality. West is perfectly comfortable coasting through games and firing up jumpers from the perimeter.
It’s too early to hit the panic button. New Orleans is on pace for a 50-win season, but after 25 games, it’s clear that the James Posey addition has come far from shoring up New Orleans’ weaknesses.