NBA Roundtable

Hornets Notes

In General NBA on October 5, 2009 at 6:27 am

Media Day Interviews

There’s a great article on Hornets 24/7 by Niall Doherty full of video interviews from media day. Niall talked to several of the players as well as the Hornets GM Jeff Bower. A lot of good stuff there. Well worth checking out.

Also, a follow up report from Niall Doherty with video interviews with Byron Scott and Chris Paul. Byron Scott sounds very happy with the team’s improved depth, and seems to have a lot of confidence in the new players that have been brought in. Chris Paul feels this is the deepest bench he’s had there in New Orleans.

Chris Paul’s Minutes

Good article on Nola.com with some good quotes from Coach Scott on the subject

“I think so,” Scott said Monday at the New Orleans Arena hours before the team trekked to Lafayette to hold the first week of training camp, beginning today. “I’m really comfortable and more confident this year that I’ll be able to do it with Bobby (Brown) and Darren (Collison). They’re going to be fighting it out for the backup role.

“Both of those guys have had their moments in the scrimmages the last couple of weeks. So I feel really good that I’m going to be able to cut (Paul’s) minutes down to what I think he should be playing, which is about 34 to 35 minutes, not 39 minutes.”

Said Scott: “I think if I can keep his minutes at that 34-, 33-minute mark, I think he’ll be a more effective basketball player, because he’ll be fresher. I think there were a lot of times last year where he was just playing on fumes and sheer determination. Hopefully, we don’t have to have that situation this year.

“He understands that he can’t play that many minutes and be as effective as he can be, or that we want him to be.”

That sounds like a good plan. Which brings us to the next topic …

Edit: Good article on NBA.com on Paul’s minutes.

Darren Collison

Byron Scott has shown a lot of confidence in the rookie … but for now the backup point guard spot is still up in the air because Bobby Brown has been performing very well too. I like Collison to win the role though.

I think he’ll be a good backup point guard from Day One of the regular season. He was a very nice pickup in the draft this year.

George Shinn

Some interesting quotes from Hornets owner George Shinn

“I could sense their attitude changing,” Shinn said of the team’s mood a year ago as it was coming off its first Southwest Division championship. “I don’t know if it was, ‘Well, we’re going to coast through this.’ I don’t know what it was. It wasn’t the same type of fire and positive attitude.

“But this year, I feel the same type of feeling of a strong attitude. I feel good. I talked to the players just a while ago and talked to them about the importance of all of us believing. We’re a team together. We’ve got to work together. And to make this happen, we’ve all got to believe.”

Shinn stressed that he’s dreaming of not just bigger things this season, but the biggest thing.

“I’ve been doing this over 20 years, and this is the best team yet,” he said. “This is our best chance to win a championship. That’s all we’re thinking about.

“We’re not just thinking about getting into the playoffs; we’re thinking totally about championship. That’s what it’s all about.”

I still think the Hornets are one piece away from being a legitimate contender … but they’re getting closer.

Oh, a link to an audio interview with George Shinn. A good listen there, interesting answers from Shinn.

JuJu = Starter

Julian Wright has been given the starting small forward position early in training camp. Well technically he was given the spot earlier in the summer after George Shinn ordered Scott to start him and to develop the rest of the team’s youth. Anyway …

I think Wright has been the Hornets best perimeter one-on-one defender, by far, for the last two years and figures to be once again this season. The Hornets have had that dominant interior defender (Chandler, now Okafor) and solid man-to-man defenders elsewhere, and a very good overall team defense. But they’ve always lacked a stopper on the wing and they’ve been punished by players like Kobe Bryant and Brandon Roy because of it. Julian Wright is capable of filling that hole and giving New Orleans one of the best defenses in the league.

Julian Wright’s defensive ability was one of the reasons why I wasn’t thrilled with the Hornets signing of James Posey a year ago. Even at that point, Wright was a far superior one-on-one defender (Posey more of a team defender) and that was the Hornets’ biggest need defensively. But now it looks like Wright will finally be given the opportunity to fill that hole.

One other thing — Wright is an excellent stopper at the small forward position, the shooting guard position, and the point guard position. He has exceptional lateral quickness + length and can defend any perimeter position extremely well. He’s a dream stopper.

Wright is also a very good rebounder for a wing but there are two main questions which he’ll have to answer offensively that will decide how effective he’ll be next season for the Hornets:

#1 – Speeds + Control

Julian Wright has only speed on the basketball court and that’s all out. Unfortunately, that also means out of control, turnovers, general poor decision making. He needs to calm down and play at a slower pace … and if gets really comfortable, play at a few different paces when the job requires it.

Wright is a talented ball handler and passer and has a versatile scoring game (excellent cutter, post up game, open court game, decent jumper) but he doesn’t use these strengths well largely because of his inability to slow down.

#2 – Jump Shooting

The Hornets offense revolves around Chris Paul’s playmaking ability. They love to get big men who work the pick and roll, hit a midrange shot and/or finish in the paint, and, then surround Paul with marksmen all around the perimeter.

When you allow one player to dominate the ball as much as Chris Paul does it becomes imperative that players around him are very good to excellent finishers. When you fail to surround a player like Paul in an offense like the Hornets with those types of complementary players, the team’s halfcourt offense becomes hugely predictable and easier to disrupt, and consequently less effective.

So, it’s very important that Julian Wright is able to knock down his jump shots at a respectable level. This, along with controlling his speeds, are the main keys to how useful Wright is offensively.

As I briefly mentioned above, Julian Wright is an excellent player in the open court. He’s the best finisher on the wing that the Hornets have. Unfortunately though, outside of Chris Paul, all of the other Hornets’ starters are half-court guys. And the Hornets also play at one of the slowest paces in the league. So while Wright will add offensive value here, he’s somewhat constrained by his own team.

JR Smith + Brandon Bass

The strong push given by George Shinn to the coaching staff to develop Julian Wright and the rest of the team’s youngsters is clearly a reaction to seeing JR Smith and Brandon Bass blow up elsewhere after failing in New Orleans.

Perimeter Depth

The first three players off the Hornets bench will be James Posey, Darren Collison and Peja Stojakovic. That has to be the strongest bench perimeter wise in the NBA.

They’ll also have Darius Songaila as their first big off the bench with one of the three other bigs – Marks, Diogu, Armstrong – playing the secondary role. That holds their bench back some, but their perimeter players are so strong that the Hornets should have one of the better benches in the NBA this season.

Peja Stojakovic

I noted a Peja article a few days ago so not much to add on that. Quick summary – Peja is content to go to the bench and feels better physically than he did last season.

Mo Pete’s Number Change

Morris Peterson has switched back to his #24 jersey in hopes it’ll remind him of his past successes and rejuvenate his game.

Mo Pete wore the #9 for the last two seasons … although, he only had that number because Desmond Mason’s status with the team was still undetermined (unsigned free agent) when Peterson joined the Hornets. Out of respect for Mason, Mo Pete choose another number.

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  1. Why does it seem like when I watch the Hornets that Paul is playing by himself? Sort of reminds me of the Lakers pre-Pau Gasol.

  2. Brothersteve,

    I think it’s primarily the offensive system + Chris Paul’s style of play.

    The Hornets have had two nice big men in Tyson Chandler and David West, who are both All-Star caliber players or close to it. As well as solid wing players like Peja Stojakovic and James Posey. There is, and has been, a good deal of talent there. A 55+ win ball club.

    Like I said, I think it’s Chris Paul’s ball happy ways and the Hornets offensive system that make it appear so … rather than a lack of talent.

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