Are the Hornets Overrated?

» December 26, 2008 4:33 PM | By Brandon Hoffman

From David Hartnett of the Houston Rockets Examiner:

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.

6 Responses to “Are the Hornets Overrated?”

  1. Tsunami Says:

    The Hornets seem too emotional to be a solid team. They rely so much on the crowd and when things aren’t going their way CP3 seems to get really fired up. Numerous times this season I’ve seen him yelling angerly at his teammates during plays when he doesn’t think there is enough movement.

    There has been reports of the team not liking Byron Scott and all that. I remember last year the Hornets used Rafer Alston’s comment about Yao Ming being a SUPER SUPER STAR and David West just being a Star to get all fired up. I remember at the time thinking…um, Chris…Rafer’s absolutely right…Yao Ming is a superstar and David West is a solid starter…

    So…it seems to me that team doesn’t have the poise to do it when the going gets tough.

  2. Erick Says:

    That’s a good observation Tsunami and I agree wholeheartedly.

  3. Brandon Hoffman Says:

    Tsunami & Erick,

    I disagree.

    Bill Simmons’ article about a rift between CP3 and Byron Scott was a fabrication.

    I agree that the Hornets are an emotional team. But I haven’t seen anything suggesting that their emotion has an effect on team chemistry.

    In fact, Ian Thompson of penned an article on the subject recently. I linked to it in my Fundamentals:

    Ian Thomsen of “This image of the two stars yelling at one another led a reporter to ask West after the game if his relationship with Paul was in trouble. ‘No, it’s nothing,’ West recalled saying. ‘I was just on him about missing a free throw when we were trying to put the team away, and things happen like that.’ Said Hornets coach Byron Scott: ‘On the court, people probably would misconstrue their conversations because they are screaming and yelling.’ Scott said this because he himself has misconstrued those arguments. ‘I asked them a couple of years ago if they were having problems,’ the coach said. ‘Because I didn’t know. I’m looking at them screaming at each other, and I had to pull them to the side individually and say, ‘CP, are you having a problem with D-West?’ ‘D-West, are you having a problem with CP?’ And they’re like, ‘No, coach, we’re cool.’ And I’m like, ‘Are you sure? Because I see you guys screaming and yelling.’ But they both said, ‘Coach, we’re just trying to win.’”

    Nearly every great player in NBA history has played with an emotional edge. Bird and McHale were far from friends. The same goes for Magic and Kareem. Jordan was a tyrant. Emotion is a good thing. There’s a line to cross of course, but I haven’t seen the Hornets cross that line.

    New Orleans needs to innovate offensively. I love Hartnett’s comparison of New Orleans and Phoenix.

    The Suns are still searching for a backup point guard for Steve Nash. I hope N.O. figures something out soon because CP3 is shouldering too much of the workload right now. CP3’s young, but I think much of Steve Nash’s decline is the result of the toll he’s taken over the last four seasons. I’d hate to see history repeat itself with Chris Paul.

  4. Erick Says:

    What I agreed with is Tsunami’s assessment of West. I was very high on West last year because of his terrific face up and shooting game, but more importantly, the fact that he was very good in the post.

    This year, there’s no spark in his game. He’s to timid to attack the post, and he’s constantly being outrebounded by his man.

    I think West is having one of the most disappointing seasons of any star in the league, even though his numbers look alright.

  5. eboni Says:

    That is not true I have 2 disagree. I mean you have to be dependent on your point guard to set the tone. If you don’t have a good point guard you won’t get the ball up the floor to even start the offence. Chris paul drawing so much attention opens up the floor for people like peja stojakovic and david west. Without a set, fundamental point guard wiyh a high basketball IQ your team would fall apart

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