What's on the Menu? "mmmmmm . . . Basketball!!!!"

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

SDH Presents the NBA's Worst to First for November: 26. New Orleans Hornets

Overall Win/Loss Record (as of November 30th):  4-10,  fifth place Southwest Division

This Month:

Team Statistics and League Rank (as of November 30th)

Points Scored: 93.7 (24th)
Points Allowed: 100 (22nd)
Team FG%: .441 (18th)
Opponent’s FG%: .454 (25th)
Rebounds per game: 41.3 (20th)
Opponents rebounds per game: 41.9 (13th)
Turnovers per game: 14.6 (10th)
Opponents turnovers per game: 12.7 (29th)
Individual Statistical Leaders

Worst Player of the Month:  Anthony Davis

Call me cruel, but for the number one pick overall in the NBA Draft, Anthony Davis’ play thus far has been far from impressive.  Sure he has posted up impressive numbers for a rookie of 16.8 points, 8.3 rebounds, two blocks and a steal per game, but he has yet to “Wow” me or take the league by storm as his predecessors.  Much of that has to do with the explosive play of fellow rookie, the Portland TrailblazersDamian Lillard, that has overshadowed his own solid rookie play.  Add the fact that he has only played six games before getting injured; hoops fans have not seen much of him being that he plays for a rather small and unnoticed sports team.  Hopefully he can come back soon and give NBA fans a real exciting competition for who will be Rookie of the Year because right now it looks as if the there will have the onerous title of being a number one pick who has not won the coveted title.  
First Player of the Month: Oh, who to pick?

There have been so many Cinderella stories coming out from the bayou as three Hornets players have had a storybook season thus far.  After four years languishing on the Phoenix Suns bench, Robin Lopez has finally had a chance to play quality minutes as the starting center of the Hornets averaging career high in points (10.7), rebounds (5.7), block shots (2.2) and minutes (27.7) per game.  Small forward Al-Farouq Aminu,  who many considered a draft day bust, has also exploded with a career performance averaging 10.6 points, 7.5 boards, and 2.2 assists per game along with shooting a scintillating .504 from the field as well.  Let’s not forget the 6’7” Venezuelan point guard, Greivis Vasquez, who is doing his best impression of Magic Johnson averaging close to nine assists per game—currently 5th in the league.  Cap that all off with Ryan Anderson proving that his stellar season in Orlando was no fluke as he leads the team in scoring with 17.8 points per game, one can see the difficulty of picking just one player for the First of the Month.

For the first time since its arrival to the bayou, New Orleans Hornets fans have their first sense of stability as their team has been taken over by new and competent ownership dedicated to keeping the team in the state of Louisiana.  During the offseason, the Hornets were recipients of the number one overall pick in the NBA Draft (thanks again, commissioner Stern) which turned out to be super athletic freak Anthony Davis and signed the team’s leading scorer last season, Eric Gordon to a long term contract extension.  Add the additions of free agents Robin Lopez and Ryan Anderson along with the improved play of incumbents Greivis Vasquez and Al Farouq Aminu, the Hornets will have a solid foundation of young talent to build a playoff contender with.  Right now much the team’s advancement from out of the shadows and into the limelight has been slow down due to injuries to two of its key players, namely Eric Gordon and Anthony Davis; however, the future still beams brightly for a team that has spent much of its time in the darkness clouded by confusion and uncertainty.  Now with their team firmly planted, Hornets fans can finally let go of their apprehensions and welcome their team with open arms.

The Hornets came crashing out of the gates winning three of their first five games beating quality talents as the Utah Jazz (11/2/2012), Chicago Bulls (11/3/2012) and a resurgent Charlotte Bobcats team (11/9/2012).  Unfortunately New Orleans was unable to maintain that early momentum as they would go on to lose their eight of their next nine games to finish the month.  On a positive note, however, the team that they managed to beat was rather stiff competition—the Pacific Division leader Los Angeles Clippers (11/26/2012).  In addition many of those losses were hard fought as two of those games the Hornets lost in overtime—one against the Indiana Pacers (11/21/2012) and the other against the Phoenix Suns (11/23/2012).  As for the rest, sure the Hornets had their fair share of blowouts including one where they were held down to just 62 points (11/7/2012); however, at the same time they managed to keep the majority of their losses close at under a ten point margin.  These games can be considered as temporary growing pains as this team is quite young and inexperienced with three players on that roster who are over the age of 25 and two that have more than three seasons of NBA experience.

This Hornets team is rather green to say the least considering that it has chosen to hinge its future on a 19 year old kid who had just played only one year of college basketball.  Both he and the Hornets’ other building block, Eric Gordon, have been sidelined due to injuries leaving this young team very shorthanded missing an otherwise impressive offensive punch.  Add the fact that two of the “senior” veterans that play in the starting five—Ryan Anderson and Robin Lopez—are just the tender age of 24, one can expect there to be a rather long and difficult learning curve for New Orleans.  In addition to inexperience and injuries hurting their chances of improving their current situation, the Hornets also suffer a severe shortage in terms of depth in the roster having little else to offer their opponents past the starting five.  Poor coach Monty Williams was forced, due to the lack of depth to throw in poor rookie Austin Rivers to the wolves by starting the 20 year old guard and giving him minutes and responsibility that he was certainly not ready for. 

Rivers, who the Hornets picked 10th overall in this year’s NBA Draft, looked lost and confused resulting in him struggling greatly as a Hornet shooting less that .100 from the field to start off his rookie season.  And despite his rather poor play, what was even worse is that the Hornets had no other option as their thin backcourt remains a glaring weakness for this young team. After six torturous games, coach Monty Williams mercifully sat Rivers down in favor for veteran and oldest member in the club, Roger Mason Jr;  however, he has not been performing that much better averaging just under six points per game while shooting under .400 from the field.  Judging by the team’s current performance, the New Orleans Hornets may still be a lottery pick or two (or maybe three, four or five) to finally have the sufficient talent to make a solid playoff run.  Fortunately for the Hornets, they have an understanding fan base that are willing to wait, grow, and suffer hard losses along with this young team as they know that this is just the beginning of something really special. 

The Hornets will definitely continue to struggle throughout the season without the presence of their two star players, Anthony Davis and Eric Gordon, but thankfully they have teammates who have been ready willing and able to hold the fort until their return.  Add that with an excited fan base that can support their team freely without wondering whether or not it will play in another city, the prospects for the Hornets are not that grim.  The gloom and doom are gone as a ray of hope shines right on the city of New Orleans while a breath of life has been infused in this franchise which was on the verge of folding.  Fans must thank David Stern for he was the one that engineered the resurrection of professional basketball in the Bayou by orchestrating the draft to make sure the Hornets would get the number one overall pick in this year’s draft.  Without his tinkering, New Orleans would never have the prosperity that it currently has and would have probably fallen into the depths of obscurity.