Tuesday, December 30, 2008

David West: Self-Made Star

The other day, my friend and I were discussing NBA stardom. The conversation naturally moved to the Hornets, and he argued that David West would be nothing without Chris Paul. Having watched D-West closely since his rookie year in 2003-04 (the first year I lived in New Orleans... and second year the team was here), I felt the need to defend a man that I've witnessed develop into an NBA star. Not a superstar. Not widely regarded outside of sports circles. But a legitimate star, nonetheless.

I can vividly remember a Hornets game I attended in 2003. It was Friday, November 21. My girlfriend (at the time) was in town for her birthday. And, bless her heart, she was kind enough to spend that evening at the New Orleans Arena. The Hornets were playing the Pacers. The winner of that game would go on to have the best record in the Eastern Conference. This was one season before the brawl at The Palace... this was when Jermaine O'Neal still mattered, before Ron Artest went psycho on the world, and while Reggie Miller was heading toward retirement. The game was close throughout -- especially the 4th quarter. With fewer than 30 seconds to go, the Hornets were leading by one point (75-74) when Reggie Miller was fouled and (obviously) hit both free throws. At the other end, Tim Floyd ran a play to get Baron Davis (who was shooting out of his mind that game... 7/10 on threes) an open shot. It didn't go in, and the Hornets were forced to foul. Luckily, O'Neal missed both free throws and gave the team one last chance with a little over a second left. With a timeout, the Hornets advanced the ball to halfcourt and drew up a play to get the ball beneath the basket for a quick layup. David West got the ball right under the basket. He tossed it up and missed as time expired. I was in the lower bowl on the opposite end of the court and remember watching him try to bat in the offensive rebound, but the clock had already run out. That is one of my most lasting memories of David West's rookie season.

And it's amazing to see how far he's come since that game. He had a solid showing in the Hornets' first-round playoff series against the Heat that year. But he was injured for 52 games the next season, so I still considered him the young backup to PJ Brown in 05-06 when it was announced that our starting center -- an All Star two seasons before -- was traded away, forcing PJ to shift over to that role and bringing West into the starting lineup. At the time, I thought the move was crazy (Jamaal Magloire for Desmond Mason leaving us with a starting frontcourt of out-of-position PJ and inexperienced West). But that was the year that D-West started to come into his own. True, the beginning of West's rise to stardom corresponded with Chris Paul's first year in the league. But don't think that West is nothing without Paul. West has an array of post moves and can nail baseline jumpers in his sleep. He is a midrange magician. In that 05-06 season, West hit three last-second game-winning jumpers (vs Hou, vs Mil, vs Was). Only one of them was assisted by CP. Obviously, his game benefits greatly from playing with Chris Paul. But 1) whose wouldn't? and 2) he's much more than just a catch-and-shoot forward.

West has always been a smart on-the-ball defender, averaging only 2.5 fouls per game over his career. He's become a solid off-the-ball defender, averaging 1.2 blocks per game over this season and last. And you can't ignore his rebounding. It's taken a dip this season, but looking at 06-07 and 07-08, you can see he was corralling 2.4 offensive boards per game (8.1 and 8.9 overall, respectively, in those seasons). Getting back to that "catch and shoot" notion, he's making 47.8% of his shots this season (which is incredibly good when you consider how many of those shots have been more than 15 feet away from the basket. And his free throw percentage this season (89.6%) ranks second among all power forwards in the league.

As admitted earlier, CP has made West ... and Chandler and Peja and Mo-Pete and Posey and Rasual Butler and everyone around him better. That's to be expected when playing with a kid on the path to being one of the greatest players in the history of the sport. Chris Paul will be mentioned alongside Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, and Oscar Robertson. He's not just a superstar; he's a legend in the making. And right now that superstar is playing with a star. A star who, two nights ago, hit another game winner. Against the Indiana Pacers. Not too bad for a kid who botched a crucial lay up when he first came into the league. He might've taken a while to reach this status, but David West is an NBA star. Make no mistake about it.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Celebrating our 100th

Hometown Hornets is celebrating it's 100th post with a look back on all the great stuff we've done in the past 422 days.

That's right. I started this blog on a wonderful Friday evening in October of 2007, and in that first post I boldly predicted that we would finish the 07-08 season third in the Southwest division, giving us a 7 seed in the playoffs. Who knew that a short 99 posts later, we'd have our eye on the prize, accepting anything less than a 2 seed as a disappointment. That's some crazy progress. Blame it on our crazy(good) point guard.


At any rate, to commemorate HH's rise to mildly amusing and mostly irrelevant, I've put together a look back at some of our more memorable posts:

1. J.A. Freakin' Adande
Here's an angry email I wrote to J.A. Adande after he suggested that the Hornets should be moved before the OKC Kevin Durants. What a dummy.

2. And the Lord Said to Abraham, "Let them rule the Power Rankings"
This post was a long-winded reaction to the Hornets topping the Power Rankings for the first time ever (to my knowledge at least).

3. Holy Crap! All-Stars Everywhere, Part 1, Part 2, & Part 3
Part 1 recaps the Rookie/Sophomore game and the time I met the Big O, Part 2 recaps the actual All-Star game, and Part 3 just has a bunch of cool pics.

4. Trade Deadline and the Return of J. Kidd to the Wild West
Hey, remember that time that Mark Cuban traded for Jason Kidd like that was a solution to his team's woes? And remember when he made his debut? Against us? And then we made him look stupid? And CP almost got a triple double with points, assists, and steals? Yeah, that was awesome.

5. Highlights from the Atlanta Beatdown
The Atlanta game last year was full of hi jinx that would have really sucked had we lost. But we beat them into a pulp, so it was instead it was awesome. Check out this post for video highlights.

6. FANtastic FANale
Hey, remember that time I won Mike James' shoes?

7. Peace Dallas: Round 1 Recap
Hey, remember that time when people didn't take us too seriously in the playoffs?

8. The Recap: a Glorious Season comes to an End
I could re-read this one all day. Best post I ever did.

9. The Live Draft Blog
Have we ever looked like we knew less about basketball?

10. Sonic Doom
Hey, remember that sad day when the Sonics pulled out of Seattle? We were there. And we feel you Seattle fans. We feel you.

11. Hornets and Lots of Other Bugs
Curry had the brilliant idea for the Hornets to partner with the new Audubon Insectarium in town... and then he made it happen.

12. World Domination (a la Chris Paul)
Hey, remember that time CP was a gold medal?

Can't wait for the day I can say, "Hey remember that time CP won a ring?" Get ready. It's coming.

Happy 100th everyone! Thanks for reading.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Chris Paul Named Player of the Week (Dec 15 - 21)

Not surprisingly, the NBA has named Chris Paul the Western Conference Player of the Week for games played from December 15 through December 21. The Chef (I'm saying it until it catches on) has averaged 23.7 ppg, 10.0 apg, 5.3 spg, and 4.3 rpg. And he threw in two blocks during the stretch, just because he could.

During the week, he set his sights on a decades-old NBA record: consecutive games with at least one steal. A record he managed to tie (@ MEM), break (vs SAS), and break anew (vs SAC) over the three games the team played. If he keeps it up over the next five games, don't be surprised to see him capture Player of the Month (an honor he received for November). A few more months like these, and he'll deserve Player of the Year. Oh wait, the kids call that "MVP" nowadays.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Dear Marc Stein...

I read Stein's article in this weekend's dime in which he handed out awards for the first trimester of the current season.

For the most part his arguments are fairly reasonable, but I had a few qualms with his Western Conference MVP selection (I bet you can't guess where this is going). Marc donned this distinguished honor to none other than Chauncy Billups. Let that sink in. Chauncy. Billups. Granted, he's been great in Denver, but... really?

So, being the good fan that I am, I wrote Marc a very nice letter of dissent. But since he's probably not going to respond to me (so far, no ESPN columnist has), I thought I would share my thoughts before they melt into the ether. Enjoy:

Dear Marc Stein,

Chauncy Billups? Really?

Ok so Billups, who is a very good point guard no doubt, transitions from a team with an identity crisis to an under-achieving team that's 1- 3. Under Billups, the 1-3 teams improves to 17-7 (which means they're 16-4 during his tenure). While that record is indeed Impressive, I think there's a bit of fallacy to your logic that the addition of Billups is the sole reason for the under-achievers' newfound success (and therefore deserving of the title "Western Conference MVP for the first trimester). I actually believe that their winning has more to do with the player who is no longer with them rather than his replacement.

Allow me to elaborate. With the exception of a few seasons, Allen Iverson has been one of the least efficient "stars" in a league that typically over values points. So Denver, under the impression that Iverson is a star/franchise player, adds him to their roster only to find out that two players who are very good at creating shots for themselves (but not their teammates) does not make for a championship bound team. It'll get you to the playoffs, but that's about it.

So after Denver traded an inefficient play-maker for an efficient one, how can we be so shocked that they are doing so much better in their current configuration? Billups is a player who is above average in efficiency and wins produced whereas Iverson is not (see Dave Berri for more). If you replace incompetence with competence on any sports team, a change for the better is likely. Sure, the 16-4 record with Billups at the helm is pretty impressive, but he certainly did not accomplish that feat on his own.

In terms of Tim Duncan... well, I'm a little dumbfounded by your logic:

Duncan merely hoisted the Spurs to a 2-5 start and prevented the rest of the West's contenders from gaining some real distance when they had the chance.

Right. So without any help from Tony and Manu, good old Timmy kept the Spurs alive by scraping 2 wins together. There's your MVP, folks. Two Win Timmy. Even Garnett managed better than that when he was surrounded by trash in Minny.

So who should be the first Trimester's MVP? Why, Chris Paul of course.

Consider this: Though the team's roster is mostly the same from last year's season, the production from the team's role players has decreased significantly. Paul has had to pick up the slack for Peja and Tyson, both of whom are under-performing given last year's statistics, not to mention the team really has no 2 guard worth starting. Also, due to Mike Jame's complete incompetence at all things basketball, Paul has been forced (though he would never use that word) to play an obscene amount of minutes just to keep the Hornets in contention. And he's done a hell of a job as the Hornet's current record is 15-7 which is good for the second lowest loss total in the West (behind Kobe and company).

But let's get a little more specific and bust out some numbers. For starters, Chris began the season by breaking the big O's record for most consecutive games with 20-10 (7). Since then, he's added 6 more 20-10 performances along with a night 15-15 while going perfect from the field and the stripe. Need more proof? Check out his season per game averages:

PTS: 19.7
REB: 5.4
AST: 11.9
STL: 2.8
TS%: 62.0
AST%: 57.4
STL%: 4.1
PER: 30.56

And here are Billups' numbers:

PTS: 17.7
REB: 2.5
AST: 6.9
STL: 1.4
TS%: 59.0
AST%: 32.7
STL%: 2.0
PER: 21.20

Do the math, Mark. It's painfully obvious that Chris has meant more to the success of his franchise than any other player in the Western Conference and is a much more deserving candidate than a competent point who's now playing for a team that hasn't had one for at least 2 solid seasons.

Thank you for your time.


My brilliant research was made possible by the geniuses at Basketball Reference in case anyone wants to pursue their own course of debunking ESPN analysts.

Peace.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Man Crush: Steve Nash pt. 2



Now he's really going after my heart, what with the Spurs joke and all.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Stealing the Spotlight

David Gladow, with the Times-Picayune, posted a great article today about the value of Chris Paul's defense. Of course, the article focuses on CP3's steals. But, instead of simply mentioning the NBA record that CP tied last night against the Grizzlies, Gladow actually analyzes that aspect of his defense. And does a damn good job of it.

Turnovers (both for and against a team) are a really interesting stat to study. Because you can never isolate them. A player is either giving his team an extra possession or forfeiting a chance to score. In Friday night's loss to the Celtics, for instance, Sean Marks lost the ball at the end of the 3rd quarter. When he committed his turnover, the Hornets were down 62-68. Let's say Paul Pierce doesn't intercept that pass; instead, let's imagine Marks gets the ball to James Posey. And -- since this is all hypothetical -- let's say Posey nails a 3-pointer. The Hornets would then be within one possession of the Celtics (65-68) going into the 4th quarter.

Unfortunately, what really happened was a turnover that should've led to a Paul Pierce breakaway dunk, putting the Celtics up by eight. Luckily, Posey had the presence of mind to foul Pierce, preventing the fast break and leading to free throws. Pierce still managed to knock down one of two and extend the Celtics lead to seven. To be clear, the Hornets had a chance to draw within three points of the defending champs. Instead, thanks to an untimely turnover, they saw themselves down by seven*. And that's the value of a turnover. Extremely costly to the team committing it. Very valuable to the team forcing it.

So, as Gladow mentions in the article linked above, it's easy to overlook the importance of Paul's league-leading 2.81 steals per game. However, that facet of his game is not something we should take for granted.

========
* For those of you keeping track, Chris Paul sank two free throws to cut the lead to five... but that happened about 15 seconds later, and it's unrelated to the immediate repercussions of the sequence I'm discussing.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Value of an NBA Franchise

... or why winning championships helps.

So, I'm a little late to the party on this one (ticktock6 published her reaction a while back). But let's do this all the same.

ESPN recently published a article about Forbes Magazine annual fiscal rankings of NBA's 30 franchises, and Henry Abbott of TrueHoop followed up with his take on the matter.

At $613 mil, the Knicks are the most valuable franchise roaming the hardwood. Meanwhile, our beloved Hornets are pulling up the rear: 28 out of 30 at $285 mil. I mean, sure Memphis is ranked 27, but we're still ahead of Charlotte and Milwaukee.

Apparently, Portland saw the biggest gain from last year and the Nets saw the biggest loss. Remarkably, San Antonio is in the top 10. Hmmmm, looks like a few championships will do wonders for the value of your team... who knew.

So, it looks like the Hornets have some ground to make up financially if they want to cement their status as a New Orleans franchise. The death of the Sonics has bought some time for the next unfortunate fan base, but it won't be long before Stern and company start evaluating teams for the next major move.

Side note: I shouldn't really demonize Stern here. It's his job to run the NBA and see that it remains profitable. It's easy to lash out at him when franchises move, but at the end of the day, it's probably better for the longevity of the sport to have someone in charge who won't be afraid to pull the trigger on deals like that. Granted, that doesn't make anyone in the Seattle area feel any better (and it really shouldn't since there were many other oft-discussed factors that made the move somewhat shady), but they should take solace in the fact that franchises move all the time. One day, the Sonics may return. Until then, you guys should really be rooting against the Clippers, Bobcats, and Grizzlies.

But back to the Hornets. Despite our lack of "value", the team has earned their stripes as a legit playoff threat and has done a lot with a little. Give credit to Jeff Bower for building a stellar team (and give credit to Chris and D.West for being stellar). And give credit to George Shinn for (somewhat reluctantly) believing in this city's ability to bounce back. Finally, give credit to the franchise as a whole selling enough season tickets this year to avoid the "opt out" clause in their lease.

Sure, we may not worth much compared to other, more storied franchises, but at least our fans can relax for the next few seasons and enjoy basketball, knowing that "losing" doesn't equal "leaving." Not that CP3 plans on losing... because he eats losers for breakfast. Now, we've just got to pray for another stellar season and hope the bottom of the economy doesn't fall out... oh, wait...

***

While on the subject of money, here's an even older post from Henry Abbott about a alternate approach for discussing NBA salaries.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Making a Point

The Hornets have traded Mike James to the Wizards in exchange for Antonio Daniels. And I am extremely excited about the move.

It's been painfully obvious this entire season that the Bees need a legitimate back up point guard -- someone who will run the offense and orchestrate shots for the other players on the floor. Mike "Shoes" James just hasn't been that player. By his own admission, he is a shoot-first point guard, and that isn't what our team wants or needs for the second unit.

The deal hasn't been finalized (Washington is still in talks with Memphis to swap a draft pick for Javaris Crittenton), but it looks like the Hornets are on their way to improving the bench significantly. In eight games, we've seen James post averages of 2.5 ppg and 1.0 apg. In 13 games this season, Daniels has averaged 5.1 ppg and 3.6 apg. It's those second numbers that really make me giddy. After watching our bench give up runs of 10-0 and 9-0 against the Suns and Grizzlies, respectively... I've been hoping we could find someone to distribute the ball and run the offense when Chef Paul is on the bench. Let's hope Daniels is that someone.

UPDATE: ESPN.com just posted a story about the trade. Congratulations, Chris Paul... you can now rest more than 5 minutes a game.
UPDATE TWO: The Hornets have added an official press release to their website.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Chris Paul: Player of the Month

The NBA announced its Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Month today. And who should be at the top of the Wild, Wild West? None other than New Orleans' own Chris Paul who averaged 20.3 ppg, 11.6 apg, 5.7 rpg, and 2.8 spg. The Chef has pretty much willed his team to victory in nine of 15 contests. And, more often than not, he's been the bright spot in each of those six losses. He shares the honor with Eastern Conference counterpart LeBron James. Certainly not bad company to keep.

Congratulations, CP3. Now, players 2-10 in Byron Scott's rotation, take note. Please don't waste such an amazing season from one of the greatest point guards to play the game. He can't do it alone. Not over 82 games, anyway.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Why not?

In the continuing tradition of amazing commercials from Phoenix players...

Team Blog Rankings

So, a Lakers blog called L.A. Ball Talk published the results of a poll they had been conducting. I don't know how the nomination and voting process worked but we made the cut, so... go us. Here are the Hornet blog rankings:

1. At the Hive (woot!)
2. Hornets 24/7
3. Hornets Hype
4. Big Easy Buzz Blog
5. Hometown Hornets
6. Hornets Report
7. Swarming the Ball
8. Blog of New Orleans

I'm actually going to lop the list down to 6 entries since number 4 is actually a blog run by the Hornets' organization and number 8 is run by an independent paper (it's actually only a small section in a site dedicated to the entire publication). So, with minor adjustment, we ranked 4 out of 6 in fan blogs. Not a bad showing since we started this thing about a year ago and never really thought anyone but a few close friends would even read it. I'd say it's unlikely that we'll overtake the top 3, but I like being nestled in at the 4. Guess that makes us David West. Ok fine, we're Tyson Chandler for the time being. Shut up.

Looking at the results more globally, we find a few interesting trends. For starters, the following teams only had 3 blogs listed: Rockets, Suns, Bulls. Teams with less than 3 blogs listed: Miami, Orlando, Pacers. Teams with 8 blogs listed: The OKC Kevin Durants. 8 blogs? Seriously? How many ways can you describe losing? Honestly.

The answer to that questions is "not very many." I took a quick perusal of some of the latest posts in these blogs and one has already taken to previewing next season's draft. Nice.

(Oh, and if you haven't already perused the "number 1" OKC blog, Bend It Like Bennet, read it immediately. You will never see a more scathing and perfect impersonation in your life. If you haven't cried from laughter lately, you might want to check out his review of their beautiful logo.)

***

If this post hasn't satisfied your Hornets fix yet, may I present a video: Channel 4 News sits down to lunch with Mo Pete and Posey. Not a whole lot of basketball talk, but if you're interested in which superlatives these guys garnered in high school, this is the video for you.

peace.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Chris Paul Interview

GQ will feature an interview with Chris Paul in its "Men of the Year" issue. In addition to some nice one-on-one banter with The Chef, the online version of the article includes a slide show that has convinced me to buy a vest.

Highlight of the interview...

Is there anyone in the NBA you don’t like?
[silence.]

I think Bruce Bowen is a cheap player, too.
I didn’t say that.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I'm at a Loss

I certainly don't lack any words at the moment. What I do lack is a general understanding for what's happening to this team right now.

Chris Paul + David West + Tyson Chandler + Peja Stojakovic + James Posey + Julian Wright should be enough to post wins on Atlanta, Charlotte, and Sacramento. Yet, in these early few weeks of the season, we've seen losses to all three of those teams. Worse still, two of the losses were at the Arena.

After a 3-0 start (over Golden State, Phoenix, and Cleveland), the Hornets looked good. Not great. Not dominant. But damn good. In those three games, they either held a lead or stayed within 5 points for the first three quarters. Then, they'd push the lead in the fourth and put the game away with some solid defensive stops and smooth offensive sets. In the two weeks following that start, the Hornets have gone 2-5. Not exactly what we were expecting. Even in those two wins, the team just hasn't looked as good as they were last year. And that's perplexing.

One common thread I can trace in the losses is the team's 3-point shooting. In those five games, the Hornets are a combined 28/88 (a whopping 31.8%) from behind the arc. Compare that to 38.9% 3-pt shooting last season. With that aspect of their offense missing, the Hornets will have a hard time in this league. Especially when there's no go-to slasher other than Chris Paul. This team is starting to show an inability to win games when its long range shots aren't dropping. And those shots won't always drop... as evidenced in depressing fashion recently. Time for a new game plan. November's almost over, and this team hasn't impressed me much. Never thought I'd say that.

Granted, the season is far from over. But it's also far from what I expected to see 10 games into the schedule.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

We've Been Discovered!

Great news. People are reading this blog. And they like it.

Curry and I have each been tapped by different blogs/online communities to contribute to their cause. Curry will be writing news stories for the online forum Hornets Report, and I will be joining forces with the guys down at At the Hive.

Don't worry your pretty little heads, though. We will continue to run HH. And it will be awesome all the same. But now more people get to read our rants, railings, praises, and musings. I think this is a good thing.

Curry will post a post a link to his first article after it's published. Meanwhile, I've already begun logging time with @TH. Check out my Southwest Division Preview and my recap from last night's home-opener win against Cleveland.

(Quick note: @TH is part of a larger blogging community called Sports Blogs Nation. They have a blog setup for each professional franchise and many universities as well. They're all fan run and worth checking out.)

Get ready world. We're coming for you. One blog at a time.

peace.

Man Crush: Steve Nash Edition

Check out Steve Nash doing his best Derek Zoolander for Vitamin Water. Big shout out to the crew down at Ball Don't Lie for posting these first.




steve nash “the spokesman” – photo shoot from Bill Connely on Vimeo.


steve nash “the spokesman” – training from Bill Connely on Vimeo.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Preseason Review. Real Season Preview.

It's been a while, kids. Let's get it started.

Preseason
THE GOOD:
The New Orleans Hornets went 7-0 in exhibition play. Though I won't read too much into that record, I am excited about how they won those seven games. They beat their opponents by a whopping 15.0 points per game. And, in five games, held the other team to fewer than 85 points. The Hornets were running on all cylinders on offense and defense. And they seemed like the definition of "team chemistry."

THE BAD:
Hear me out. During the offseason, Tyson and Coach Scott announced their desire to add a mid-range jumper to the big man's offensive repertoire. And it was evident in many preseason games, where Tyson attempted (and made) a decent number of shots from that range. But I'm worried that moving Tyson away from the basket for those jumpers might have a negative impact on a different aspect of his game: offensive rebounding. In 2006-07 and in 2007-08, Tyson was the league leader in ORPG (4.4 and 4.1 per game, respectively). In the preseason matches where Ty played at least 20 minutes, he averaged only 2.25 ORPG. This might turn out to be an unfounded concern. We might just see The Chairman of the Boards flexing the ability to hit the mid-range shots, as opposed to relying on that spot. I just really wouldn't want to see him sacrifice one (extremely dominant) aspect of his game in favor of developing another one that the team doesn't need quite so badly.

THE UGLY:
Free throws. Specifically, from our front court. Through the seven games, our top big men (D-West, Ty, Ely, Hilt) combined to go 51-of-78 from the charity stripe. That's just a tick above 65%. Ugh. C'mon, fellas! They're free! You just have to throw the ball! The team as a whole didn't do so poorly, but there was the game against the Spurs where everybody forgot their fundamentals and posted a pretty discouraging 64% from the line. The bright side of this equation is the fact that the entire team posted a night with 80% shooting against the Pacers. I'm willing to bet the arena noise was much less significant in Indianapolis. That could have something to do with it.

REGULAR SEASON
Y'know what? I'm just gonna jump straight to playoff predictions.

EASTERN CONFERENCE:
1) Boston Celtics
2) Cleveland Cavaliers
3) Orlando Magic
4) Detroit Pistons
5) Toronto Raptors
6) Philadelphia 76ers
7) Miami Heat
8) Washington Wizards

WESTERN CONFERENCE:
1) Los Angeles Lakers
2) New Orleans Hornets
3) Utah Jazz
4) San Antonio Spurs
5) Houston Rockets
6) Phoenix Suns
7) Portland Trailblazers
8) Dallas Mavericks

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

You Got Dunked On

Are you ready for your productivity at work to drop below zero? Cause once you take a look at this blog, You Got Dunked On, your life will never be the same.

The right hand column features a clickable list of dunkers featured on the site. Unfortunately, you can't separate the videos by dunkees, but an initial look places Jermaine O'Neal at the top of the "most often posterized" standings.

Oh, and in case anyone forgot, this happened:



For real, yo.

Peace.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

CP3 on E:60



Note: apparently, ESPN took down this video. I'll try to relink it if I can find it somewhere else.

The Links, vol. 6

For those of you biting your nails to bide the time until the start of the season, here's a whole smorgasbord of links to tie you over. We're gonna do some of the TrueHoop style, where I include portions of some of the articles to pique your interest a little more. And we'll keep this format until I hear the pounding of lawyers fists on my front door. Until then, enjoy:



BALL DON'T LIE (preview)

So the team down at Ball Don't Lie seems pretty confident that we'll make the playoffs, but they aren't sold on our (admittedly strange) strategy towards team "depth".

Truth is, everyone who's a Hornets fan knows depth (especially in the frontcourt) to be our biggest weakness. We all handle it a little differently: some convince themselves that Hilton will emerge as useful player, some are convinced JuJu can play the 4 off the bench thus allowing Byron to run a semblance of Nellieball with our scrubs which will confuse the opponent by reversing the pace, or some just sit in corners holding their knees to their chest as they rock and cry. I'm a little of all three columns.

At any rate, check out Kelly Dwyer's Hornets preview. It's got some good (albeit sobering) stuff from one of blogdom's more underrated writers:

And if we’re going to give the Rockets the stick for assumed injuries, or guess that the Lakers will have a tough time playing Andrew Bynum alongside Pau Gasol before March, and imagine that the Spurs will go easy on Manu Ginobili’s minutes even after he returns from the shelf, it’s only fair to expect that the Hornets will have to play guys like Melvin Ely (a championship-level backup power forward? To someone who averages 60 games a year?), Hilton Armstrong, and Julian Wright more than they’d like to.

The Hornet fan is thinking, "yeah, and Armstrong and Wright are young and due for breakout years." And they’re not. Or, they’ll break out, but they won’t be that great. Just OK, rather.


***

DAVE BERRI ON THE HORNETS

Dave Berri is the fantastic behind behind The Wages of Wins (which exists in print as well as a continuing online journal. Our buddy Rohan of At The Hive was able to score an interview with him in which he cornered Berri on topics exclusively related to the Hornets. Here's an excerpt:

@tH: Staying on the subject of Paul, various statistics suggest that he had one of the greatest offensive seasons by a point guard in history (#1 all time PER, #1 all time Win Shares). In your estimation, where did his last campaign rank historically and what could he have improved?

DB: Since 1991-92, no guard in the NBA has produced more than 25 wins in a single season.  So what Chris Paul did in 2007-08 was very impressive.  Basically you have to go back to the 1980s – when Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan surpassed the 25 win mark a few times – to find a guard who played better than Paul.


From Berri's online journal, we learn that he believe the Hornets will fare much better in the absence of Jannero Pargo:

If we compare Pargo to an average point guard we still see a player that’s below average with respect to shooting efficiency from the field, rebounds, steals, blocked shots, and personal fouls.  He also offers fewer assists than an average point guard.

If we move from the individual stats to Wins Produced, we see that Pargo produced -1.3 wins for the Hornets last year; with a -.043 WP48 [Wins Produced per 48 minutes].  What if the Hornets had been able to replace Pargo with just an average guard?  An average NBA player will post a 0.100 WP48, and in Pargo’s 1,497 minutes, would produce 3.1 wins.  So moving from Pargo in 2007-08 to an average guard would have increased the Win Produced in New Orleans from 55.1 (the team actually won 56 games) to 59.6.  Last year only the Boston Celtics (68.3 Wins Produced), Detroit Pistons (60.4 Wins Produced), and LA Lakers (60.4 Wins Produced) were able to best the 59.6 mark the Hornets would have under the above scenario.


***

HORNETS 24/7

Ryan Schwan of Hornets 24/7 wrote a nice piece about Hornets' GM Jeff Bower:

His easiest virtue to appreciate is his ability to stick to a team concept and build a team that works together. I've said this over and over here on this blog, but Bower has put together a team that is greater than the sum of its parts. He doesn't succumb to numbers and slap together a team like Denver that has brilliant isolation scorers in Anthony, Iverson and JR Smith that can't work together or play defense, or the Bulls, a team of hard-working players who lack Genius. Bower has brought in players that each provide something that improves the effectiveness of the other players on the team, and more, he's brought in players that fit the mold of what Byron Scott wants on the floor. There are no clashes between coach and GM in New Orleans.

***

TIMES PICAYUNE

The Times Pic is reporting that the Hornets are rolling through preseason:

The Hornets are allowing 83.6 points a game, holding opponents to a shooting percentage of .391, while shooting 45.7 percent on their end of the floor. New Orleans, behind Chris Paul's 10 steals, is averaging 10.1 steals.

They also put up an interesting article about OUR big 3:

Last season the trio combined to average 53.5 points, 24.6 rebounds and 14.9 assists. Those figures compare favorably with the Celtics' big three -- Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen -- which averaged 55.8 points, 18 rebounds and 11 assists, and the Spurs' -- Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker -- which averaged 57.6 points, 19.3 rebounds and 13.3 assists.

***

TYSON'S BLOG



Here's an excerpt from TC's latest blog entry:

So, we get to Berlin and when we finally got to the hotel, it was probably about 11:30 in the morning. Everybody was exhausted. And then we have a practice at 2:00. So basically, we're on 48 hours of no sleep with a game and then a practice.

Everybody was dying at practice. It was probably the toughest practice that we've ever had. And Coach Scott ran us, because he said he wanted to get the jet lag out of us. So, it was like a semi-training camp practice on top of 48 hours of no sleep ... and being cramped in the plane for 12 hours.


***

BALL DON'T LIE (odds and ends)

"10 Man Rotation, starring CP3-to-Chandler 'oop Magic"

Mo Pete at the German KFC practicing for a second career option that may come in handy if his numbers don't improve.

Everyone knows the Hornets attended an Obama event in Indy a few weeks ago, but here's some photos from the event. Check out D.West hanging with B.Rock.

JuJu says "it's time for donuts; it's donut time".

***

HOLLINGER

No Hornets make the cut this year for Hollinger's All-Breakout Team, though he did admit considering CP3. Of course, despite expecting another huge year from the Chef, Hollinger thought wiser of including an MVP runner-up on the "Breakout" team. Which is understandable.

***

TRUEHOOP

TrueHoop previews CP3's 3rd annual bowling tourney. And BDL's got your followup (with video)

Henry asks a whole host of peeps about the biggest stories awaiting the NBA this season. Check out the answers in TrueHoop's Crystal Ball

Ever wonder how the schedule gets made? TrueHoop has the answer

***

LAGNIAPPE

All my friends know I have a man-crush on Kevin Martin (along with Mike Miller and Andris Biedrins. So they shouldn't be surprised to see me posting a link to a BDL video of Martin juking Rudy Fernandez then taking it to the house on the house against the rest of Portland's defense. Sweetness. I mean, the Kings are going to be abysmal this year, but it certainly won't be this guy's fault.

***

Peace.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Hollinger 2008-09 PER Projections

For those of you who understand John Hollinger's PER stat, congratulations: you're smarter than me.

Sort of. Hollinger, one of ESPN.com's better writers (and one of the original Basketball Prospectus wizards), uses a stat of his creation that, as a single number, is meant to represent a player's mean production per minute of time on the court. In other words, instead of looking at specific stats like points, assists, or steals, PER translates those numbers (via an immensely complicated equation that equalizes pace and minutes played*) into a single number that sums up a player's efficiency. In this particular system, 15 is the league average, with the league leader landing somewhere in the high 20s and low 30s.

So, with that in mind, check out the PER projections for 08-09 season.

If you are curious as to where he gets his dummy/projected stats to fill out the PER equations, he uses something he calls "similarity scores". Permit me to quote his explanation from a related article:

For each player, I use as a comparison the players from the past 20 years who are the most similar, based on age, height and stats over the past three seasons. Some players will have more comparables than others, depending on how unusual they are -- guys with freak heights (Yao Ming, Nate Robinson), freak ages (Dikembe Mutombo) or freak stats (Andrei Kirilenko) will have relatively few, while a more generic player like Al Harrington or Devin Brown could have over a hundred.

From that point, I see what their most similar players did a year later, and project those changes onto the stats of the player being studied. So, for example, the reason that J.R. Smith's PER is projected to rise sharply this year is because the most similar players also saw their PERs increase sharply at the same age; similarly, Andre Miller is expected to tank because a number of similar players hit the wall at his age.


Great, so maybe I shouldn't have drafted Andre Miller in my fantasy league... of course he does fill the utility slot as I also nabbed CP3 and Jose Calderon in an attempt to OWN the assists in my league. What uuuuuup...

But, seriously, despite CP's position in the numero uno slot, I have to say that Hollinger's stat is somewhat bothersome to me, and I've found that other writers agree (in theory... I'm not actually part of a circle that makes me privy to arguing with these people). For instance, Dean Oliver (author of Basketball on Paper) dislikes Hollinger's method since it produces a completely abstract number in place of quantifiable stats. Numbers that bear no relationship to accrued statistics (see: Quarterback Passer Rating) are difficult to digest, especially for the average sports fan. This is not to say that all sports fans are dumb, but rather that the complicated equations and seemingly arbitrary numbers that are the result hide the logic and brainwork put into their own creation. These stats force people to blindly accept what appears to be an arbitrary system of measurement in which one number is labeled "good", one "average", and one "bad". From there, you are left to extrapolate the rest.

Instead of player-based systems like Hollinger's (and there are many others like it), Oliver believes you're better off measuring team success than attempting to isolate one player's performance. He uses a simple method to calculate "efficiency" through an offensive and defensive rating.

This method produces a number that relates back to the most basic element of basketball: points. The resulting offensive rating reflects the amount of points a team will score for every 100 possessions (likewise, the defensive rating reflects how many points a team will allow from an opponent every 100 possessions). By bringing the possession number to a constant (100), we can effectively compare the run-and-gun offenses of D'Antoni and Nellie with the Mavs and Spurs more calculated (read: slow) approach.

Oliver then goes on to even deeper analysis using ratings to help mold larger extrapolations (at one point even calculating a win/loss record for individual players), but his basic argument is the same: basketball is a team sport with a myriad of player interactions on both sides of the court, and it is thereby almost impossible to truly calculate a single person's impact (though his formulas seek to do so).

This, of course, does not mean that Oliver's method is more correct than Hollinger's. In fact, Hollinger's method is a remarkable indicator of team success (i.e. despite Kevin Durant's gaudy point totals last season, he was never particularly "efficient", as he had to handle the load of his mostly incompetent teammates). It has also a reliable method for predicting rookie success in the NBA.

And so it goes. More and more "holy grail" of stats methods come out all the time. You just have to wade through it and make your own opinions. If nothing else though, it certainly does inspire a greater appreciation for the beautifully complex sport of basketball.

***

*Oh, and by the way, here's the PER formula in case you want to keep track at home:

uPER = (1/Min) * (3P + [(2/3) * AST] + [(2 - factor * (tmAST/tmFG)) * FG] + [FT * 0.5 * (1 + (1- (tmAST/tmFG)) + (2/3) * (tmAST/tmFG))] - [VOP * TO] - [VOP * DRBP * (FGA - FG)] - [VOP * 0.44 * (0.44 + (0.56 + DRBP)) * (FTA - FT)] + [VOP * (1 - DRBP) * (TRB - ORB)] + [VOP * DRBP * ORB] + [VOP * STL] + [VOP * DRBP * BLK] - [PF * ((lgFT/lgPF) - 0.44 * (lgFTA/lgPF) * VOP))])

where...

factor = (2/3) - [(0.5 * (lgAST/lgFG))/(2 * (lgFG/lgFT))]
VOP = [lgPTS/(lgFGA - lgORB + lgTO + 0.44 * 0.44 * lgFTA)]
DRBP = [(lgTRB - lgORB)/lgTRB]

then adjust for pace...

PER = [uPER * (lgPace/tmPace)] * (15/lguPER)

Done. Piece of cake.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Predictions and Other Nonsense

STATE OF THE UNION

This past Sunday, New Orleans beat Golden State in a preseason game, and the victory marked the beginning of 2008-09 season (more or less). Ah, basketball how I've missed thee. As much as I love watching the Saints and having the requisite conniption in each fourth quarter, basketball is still my true love.

So, in light of the season's commencement, I have put together a little post of predictions and other nonsense. We'll start with a look at some posts from around the internets from people who actually know what they're talking about.

ESPN.com's John Hollinger has a great team by team forecast (here's the Hornets' one). John seems to think that the Hornets' upcoming season will not match last year's effort, mainly citing that the team failed to address their biggest weakness (thinness in the frontcourt... not weight, like depth... it's not a dimensional thing, it's a roster thing... let's just move on). He also thinks an alarming amount of things fell the Hornets' way last season, and he expects that trend to return to normalcy... whatever that means. Basic summary: as good as they are, they ain't there yet... but they could be soon.

Our good friend Rohan from At the Hive has a more positive outlook, suggesting that the team did in fact improve in the offseason.

Of course, if you want to go straight to the horse's mouth (or any other barnyard animal for that reason), look no further than the latest entry in Tyson Chandler's blog. He seems pretty positive on the team, though to be fair he's kind of paid to be (of course, that never seems to stop Kobe).

Finally, ESPN has released the top 190 fantasy rankings. Though the fantasy measure of success in this sport is completely irrelevant to the real sport (since it almost ignore defensive abilities), it's nice to know that the Hornets made a strong showing with 2 players in the top 40, and 4 players in the top 90. That last one hurts, but hey, we still got JuJu and Posey, right? Just kidding... but seriously.

2 CP
36 D.West
83 Tyson
86 Peja
173 Mo Pete

To wrap up our little offseason recap, I'd like to remind everyone that we did revise our look with some swanky new logos, unis, and hardwood. Our friends down at Ball Don't Lie have the real story, complete with photos (one of which is right below this paragraph).


***

PREDICTIONS

So let's talk predictions. Our good buddy, Marc Stein, has taken the time to not only release this season's first power rankings, but also a very interesting extension of his weekly subjective standings, the 02-08 Power Rankings. The Hornets landed in the 3 slot for the preseason rankings and a surprising 13 slot in the six-season-spanning rankings. At least it seemed surprising until I remembered that we went to the playoffs in 3 of those 6 seasons (winning one round between the 3). I guess the slightly sub .500 winning percentage (.488) and the 18-64 season (now known amongst friends as "The Quest for Chris Paul") put a slight damper on the memory of it all. Still, we landed in the top half, so I ain't complaining to no one.

Additionally, ESPN took the time to poll various people, who are probably important in some way or another, in order to compile its own set of predictions. So, before you read on, you may find these articles quite interesting. At the very least you can yell your semi-informed opinions at the screen in front of you... I mean, that's what I did.

Here are the ESPN predictions:
Western Conference
Eastern Conference
Conference Finals
Championship
Awards

What do I think of all this silliness? So glad you asked. Let's take a look at my projected outcomes come the end of the post season:

WEST Round 1
(1)Lakers over (8)Mavericks
(2)Hornets over (7)Suns
(3)Jazz over (6)Rockets
(5)Blazers over (4)Spurs

WEST Conference Semis
(1)Lakers over (5)Blazers
(2)Hornets over (3)Jazz

WEST, Conference Finals
(2)Hornets over (1)Lakers

EAST Round 1
(1)Celtics over (8)Heat
(2)Cavs over (7)Bulls
(3)Sixers over (6)Magic
(5)Raptors over (4)Pistons

EAST Conference Semis
(1)Celtics over (5)Raptors
(3)Sixers over (2)Cavs

EAST, Conference Finals
(1)Celtics over (3)Sixers

CHAMPIONSHIP
Hornets over Celtics

Who are you calling "homer"? I can't pick my own team to win it all?

Seriously though, let's put the bias aside for just a moment. This team definitely has the pieces (and the chops) to win it all. Why? We have core of players that are extremely talented and play very well together. We also have a few playmakers who join in the action from the bench. We have the very competent Byron Scott at the helm. And, perhaps most importantly, we now have a fanbase that can fill an arena (we more than doubled season ticket sales from 5 to 11K, with the entire lower bowl completely sold out).

Is it a done deal? No. Am I insane? Possibly. But I do believe that given a healthy squad (all of these predictions are moot if CP, D.West, or Tyson miss a substantial portion of the season) and a few lucky breaks, we could very easily be contending for a title. The big "ifs" remaining are whether or not Mike "Shoes" James is up to the task of letting CP rest for more than 5 minutes a game, and whether or not the youngins' Hilt and JuJu are ready to play to their potential. JuJu's mostly there, but if Hilt improves (and he did look good in the preseason opener), then the question of front court depth becomes much easier. Besides, none of this even takes into account any deals we might pursue before the deadline. I'm just saying: this could happen. The window's open y'all. Let's see if our boys can make the leap.

But what about the other teams you say? I'm not sold on the Lakers this year due to Kobe's thumb. I mean, granted he played all of last season and the post season and the Olympics with it, but he was planning on having surgery at some point... Besides, there are still some major questions of how Andrew Bynum will get folded into the rotation. Make no mistake, the Lakers are an amazing team who will probably do just fine (if not win the West outright), but the ongoing saga of Kobe's thumb, as well as the perennial need to blast his teammates and/or owner, could pose a very real problem.

San Antonio is older and their role players are slowly moving into retirement (not to mention Manu's hurt for the time being). I do expect big things from the Jazz, but Boozer's health (and production) were trending way down at the end of last season, never mind the annual question of "Will AK47 care this year?" The Blazers could threaten, but they're young and have very little experience playing together (keep in mind that D.West, Tyson, and CP3 had played together for almost 3 seasons before making the playoffs for the first time). I'm more worried about the Blazers in the long term than in the now. That leaves Houston as the only other truly viable threat. To be fair, they may even be the scariest of all of the contenders in the West provided that TMac and Yao can stay healthy AND Artest doesn't go absolutely insane. It's a long shot, but it's possible.

Dallas and Phoenix still have at least one more year before either team moves into a rebuilding phase. Though Phoenix is probably the bigger threat presently, they're definitely going to be the ones who start dismantling first. Nash's health and the general lack of any useful bench players is going to kill them sooner than later. Add the fact that their core, outside of Amare and Diaw, is getting really old. Dallas, on the other hand, looks to be in worse shape presently (who spends their ENTIRE midlevel on DeSagana Diop? Seriously?), but Kidd's expiring contract should give them a decent trading chip come February if the team still hasn't gelled the way Cuban had in mind. I'm also curious to see how much longer they'll put up with Josh "Stop Saying Moronic Things in Public" Howard. Bottom line is that both teams are in a weird phase: their windows are slowly closing, their cores are starting to fall apart, AND they both have a new coach. None of that really screams contender to me.

On to the East, where the most ridiculous prediction I've made is that the Conference Finals will feature the boys from the city of Brotherly Love. I think the addition of Brand is going to really push them into the elite tier out East. Toronto's chances are definitely trending upward (although O'Neal can be a threat to team chemistry), while the Pistons are definitely on their way out (though their eventual demise will be slower than either Dallas or Phoenix). I also don't expect Atlanta or Washington to be joining us this post season since the Wizards continue to have major health problems (as well as two completely forgettable exits from the playoffs in a row) and Atlanta managed to completely undo all the good that accidentally synthesized last season. I feel so bad for that fan base. As a Saints fan, I know the hardship that comes from such incompetent ownership. I applaud you for sticking it out... all seven of you. You are to be commended.

As far as the newcomers to the Eastern playoffs, the Bulls are way better than they performed last year, and I'm fairly certain the growing pains will be alleviated soon. Miami, on the other hand, had a whole host of injury and chemistry problems last year, most of which seem to have been addressed in one way or another. I don't think they're championship bound in the least, but they have too much talent not make it to the show out East.

All in all, this season is going to be great. We've got a few young teams that are starting to mesh that will be challenging the older established guns. It could be the year the young make the leap and the old rue the day that they crossed the age of 30.

And guess what? It's fun to be one of the young guns.

***

LAGNIAPPE

Before I wear out my welcome, I'll leave you with a little something extra.

Anyone who wants some clarifications on the subtle intricacies of reffing in the NBA, check out this really cool post by Henry Abbot. I'll still be screaming any time a foul is called against the Bees, but at least I'll know if I'm full of it while doing so.

Also, quick followup on ESPN the Mag's newest blogger, Lil Wayne. In his newest entry you'll note that CP3 called... and he wants Lil Wayne's loyalty back.

Sorry for the Greg Easterbrook-ness of this entry, but thanks for sticking it out. Post some comments if you can stand staring at your screen for another minute.

peace.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Lil Wayne blogs... about the Packers

Looks like Lil Wayne will be joining ESPN the mag as a blogger. Many of you would say "Great. One of our hometown (Gert Town, actually) brethren will be joining the world of ESPN as a voice for New Orleans sports". To you, I would reply, "False". For the correct answer, let's go to his first post:

Besides the Packers, my favorite teams are the Red Sox, the Lakers and the Boston Bruins.

Oof.

I mean, I can forgive the whole hockey and baseball thing, but the Lakers? And the Packers?! This can only mean one thing: Lil Wayne is obviously joining the Ohio-based, elite organization, Bandwagonners R' Us, founded by none other than LeBron "Global Icon" James . As many of you know BronBron's favorite teams include the Yankees, the Cowboys, and the Bulls (hell, I bet he's a big USC fan, too). All of this is completely reasonable considering he grew up in Ohio, a state with no fewer than 6 professional teams.

Right. Whatever.

But come on, Lil Wayne. You've got to show some love for your own stomping grounds, for crying out loud. I might be able to let the Lakers thing slide since the Hornets are a fairly recent addition to the city (god-in-heaven help you if you're just "a big Kobe fan"). But what about the Saints?! Sure, they've sucked for... well, always actually... but come on! They've been here forever. They're an institution. An institution of sucking maybe, but an institution all the same.

This would actually hurt so much less if it were any other NFL team. Scratch that, the Cowboys would be worse. So there you have it. At least he's not a Cowboys fan.

It's just sad. That's all.

***

This story was also reported (somewhat more gently) by one of my favorite music sites, Pitchfork Media .

Also, for those of you who need the clarification, Page 2's Patrick Hruby breaks down the different types of bandwagon fans.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Basketball! Olympics! Bowling! What Can't He Do?

We're almost out of that painfully slow period between The Finals/Draft and the preseason. But we haven't made it quite yet. The Hornets' roster is pretty much set. The team has 14 guys signed to guaranteed contracts and is just about to start training camp. As I would hope you all know, The Chef has been keeping himself plenty busy over the summer with charitable events, appearances on behalf of Nike, and a stellar performance in the 2008 Olympic Games. One thing that you might not know is how CP spends his (extremely limited) down time.

Lucky for you, the Times Picayune and Sports Illustrated are here to tell us. It also seems that they're competing to come up with the cheesiest bowling pun to run in a headline. A strike is better than a spare, so I guess the T-P wins this round. Actually, I take that back. SI at least tried to make the pun work. Thank you, Steve Aschburner.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Marks-ist Revolution (I Can't Beat This Title from ESPN)

In what is likely their final offseason move, the Hornets have signed veteran power forward/center Sean Marks. The New Zealand native is entering his ninth season in the NBA. For his career, he's averaged 3.1 ppg and 2.0 rpg while playing for four teams. And he comes to the team with exactly two minutes and thirty seconds of playoff experience.

If you search YouTube, you probably won't find any Sean Marks highlight videos* on there. His best year came with the pre-Dwyane Wade Heat of 2001-02 when he posted season averages of 4.6 ppg, 3.6 rpg, and 0.5 bpg. There's no denying that he's a career backup (127 games played, 6 starts). But he gives this team frontcourt depth... which became a gaping hole at the end of last season with uninspiring play from Melvin Ely and inconsistent output from Hilton Armstrong.

Marks will give Coach Scott and his staff a pretty versatile second unit. The team now has a good number of reserves that can play multiple positions: Devin (PG, SG, SF), JuJu (SG, SF, PF), Pose (SG, SF, PF), RyBow (SF, PF), and Sean "The Kiwi" Marks (PF, C). If nothing else, he'll probably become a fan favorite, and we might have a new player's-head-on-a-stick for the 2009 playoffs. Welcome to the Crescent City, Sean.

* I stand corrected. Mistilynn apparently had enough time on her hands to put together this tribute. Musical accompaniment provided by Incubus.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

World Domination (a la Chris Paul)

Unless you just woke up from a coma, you probably caught at least one Olympic event over the past few weeks. I'm hoping you were able to catch some of the men's basketball tournament. And -- if you only saw one game -- I hope it was Sunday's gold medal match between Spain and the United States of America. Team USA outlasted the Spaniards 118-107 in one of the most exciting basketball games in Olympic history. Both teams looked great, and they were on pace at halftime (when the US led 69-61) to set an Olympic record for points scored.

Not surprisingly, the Hornets' own Chef Paul was a key component of the Redeem Team. Over eight games, he posted averages of 8.0 ppg, 4.1 apg, 3.4 rpg, and 1.8 spg. He shot exactly 50% (19/38) from the field, and he was money from the free throw line at 91.7% (22/24). His two best games were against Spain. In the USA's fourth game during preliminary play, CP13 had 14 points, 8 assists, 5 rebounds, and 5 steals. In the gold medal game, he posted 13 points, 5 assists, and 3 rebounds. More important than any stat I could track were two things: his composure on the court and his control of the tempo in these games. He and Dwyane Wade were always the first two players off the bench for Coach K. And they always pushed the lead out of the opponents' reach (or regained control when the starters had slipped up).

And don't think his contributions have gone unnoticed. In an interview about his Olympic experience, Kobe "The DoberMamba" Bryant was asked which teammate impressed him the most. I'll bet you can guess his answer. Over at the Times Pic, John DeShazier has an article about how proud all of New Orleans is to have CP representing our city and our team. And Dime Magazine has an interview with the Golden Child himself. Congratulations to Chris and the rest of Team USA on winning Gold. Now, let's go try to get excited about tennis and baseball until the season starts.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Player Movements

After Jannero Pargo received a $3.8 million deal from Russia (with love), I've been wondering what the Hornets would do to shore up the depth of the bench. As we've reported, the team has added veteran James Posey, and the coaching staff will be relying on the improvement of JuJu and Hilt to strengthen the reserve unit. In addition to all of that, the Hornets re-signed Mr. Hustle himself: Ryan Bowen will return to action to give us another season of bust-yo-ass highlights and flailing-arm defense.

Although most of the 2007-08 roster remains intact, the team and its fans will no longer enjoy the heart-stopping play (sometimes in a good way... sometimes in a bad way) of Mucho Jannero. But they will have a familiar face on the bench in guard Devin Brown. Earlier today, the Times Picayune reported that he'll be re-joining the team after appearing in 58 games during the 2006-07 season. I'm excited about the signing. After key players went down with injuries, Brown was a big reason why the Hornets stayed competitive through the final week of 06-07. In his first stint with the Bugs, he averaged 11.6 ppg, 4.3rpg, and 2.6 apg (all career bests). Although he primarily plays shooting guard, he can spend some time at small forward and can handle the ball well enough to spell CP3 at the point.

The roster is really starting to fill itself out. Chef Paul will be better than he was last year... if you can even imagine that. D-West will likely play right around the All-Star level he achieved last year. Tyson will probably put up slightly better numbers than he did last season. Peja (with any luck and no injuries) will give the team reliable shooting. Mo Pete could improve his offensive output and will continue to provide defensive pressure. Look for JuJu to improve. Posey will offer a new threat from the bench. Devin will give us what we lost in Pargo. And that's a pretty formidable eight-man rotation.

HH Sponsors JuJu

Hometown Hornets is proud to show its support for great sources of knowledge and the Hornets by sponsoring Julian Wright's page on Basketball Reference. We figured his pretty face, octopus-like arms of impenetrable defense, and general dunking awesomeness would provide a good face or our fledgling project of a blog.


Furthermore, we encourage the readers of this blog to use Basketball Reference to strengthen their arguments [read: comments] against our otherwise pithy statements and analysis. The link is also in the side-bar if you ever lose the ability to spell or operate google.

peace.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Re-Branding the Rebirth

As has been expected for quite some time, the Hornets will have new uniforms for the 2008-09 season. Earlier today, they unveiled the new designs at an event for the media and some season ticket holders.


You can follow this link to learn more. And check out the home page on their website to see the interactive re-design. I was able to make it over to the unveiling ceremonies this afternoon, so I'll upload pictures of JuJu and Mo Pete modeling the new digs.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Hornets Fever is Spreading

For the first time since the franchise has been based in New Orleans, the Hornets have surpassed the 10,000-seat benchmark for full season ticket sales. The team is also only 100 tickets short of selling out the lower bowl for the entire season. They will begin selling partial-season ticket plans next week.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

2008-09 Hornets Schedule

The NBA released its schedule for the 2008-09 season earlier today. Our beloved Hornets will be appearing on national television at least 13 times -- including a high-profile road game on Christmas Day against the Orlando Magic. The team's full schedule has more details. I wouldn't be surprised to see the national stations pick up a few more Hornets games throughout the course of the season. Plus, NBA TV hasn't finalized its lineup.

Over at ESPN.com, Marc Stein goes through his favorite matchups of the season. Can't wait to be back at the Arena on November 1. Bring it on, Bron.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Cox Sports to Show Top Ten Games of 2007-08

Beginning tonight at 7:00 pm CDT, Cox Sports will re-broadcast some of the best games from the 2007-08 season (See CST Spotlight). This evening, they'll show the Hornets' early season road win against the Lakers. Y'know, the one when Chef Paul handed out 21 dishes. And when Peja lit up the building with 10 made 3-pointers. The station will be broadcasting one game per week from now through the last week of September. A Hornets Top Ten, if you will. I've posted the full schedule below. Check out the games if the Olympics don't satisfy your basketball jones.

CST Hornets Encore Schedule (All games are 7:00 pm)
Tuesday, Jul 29 = New Orleans Hornets @ Los Angeles Lakers (from 11/06/07)
Tuesday, Aug 05 = Dallas Mavericks @ New Orleans Hornets (from 12/01/07)
Tuesday, Aug 12 = Phoenix Suns @ New Orleans Hornets (from 12/15/07)
Tuesday, Aug 19 = New Orleans Hornets @ Phoenix Suns (from 2/6/08)
Tuesday, Aug 26 = Utah Jazz @ New Orleans Hornets (from 2/29/08)
Tuesday, Sep 02 = San Antonio Spurs @ New Orleans Hornets (from 3/12/08)
Tuesday, Sep 09 = Houston Rockets @ New Orleans Hornets (from 3/19/08)
Tuesday, Sep 16 = Boston Celtics @ New Orleans Hornets (from 3/22/08)
Tuesday, Sep 23 = New Orleans Hornets @ Cleveland Cavaliers (from 3/26/08)
Tuesday, Sep 30 = New Orleans Hornets @ Orlando Magic (from 4/01/08)

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

New Jerseys in New Orleans

The Hornets will have a new look next season. And not just because they signed James Posey to his contract this afternoon. Although it hasn't been officially reported, the team will have new uniforms for the 2008-09 season. I'm lucky enough to have a few people with access to the team. Here's what they've told me. The teal in the color scheme will actually be more of a blue-ish teal, as opposed to the green tint that we've seen in the past. Maybe you can see the difference in this picture between the shirts that most fans are wearing and the lane on the court. The team will have pinstripes on their jerseys and their shorts. The waistbands on the shorts will have NOLA on them. The Fleur De Bee will appear either on the back of the jersey or the side of the shorts. And there might be a really cool alternate jersey that has "NOLA" on the chest (instead of "New Orleans").

I've searched the web and stumbled across a few fans' guesses as to what they might look like. And I finally found one that is very closely in line with everything I've heard from connected friends or read from trusted sources. I wish I could convince someone to supply me with an actual photograph, but -- for now -- I can provide this pretty accurate drawing thanks to moubre4 over at Hornets Report.





Once again, special thanks to moubre4 at HR.com for the approximate depictions of the new uniforms for 2008-09.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Pocket Full of [Reactions to James] Posey

A [very knowledgeable] friend of mine down at At the Hive posted a reaction to the Posey signing. And I have to say that I agree with him on most of his points. I actually experienced the exact same progression of reactions (1. Yes, 2. NOOOOO!, 3. Yes), eventually coming to grips with the fact that The Hornets have effectively mortgaged part of our future for a shot at the here and now.

Part of me still wishes we had addressed our thinness at the 2, 4, or 5 (especially with the Clips possibly nabbing Azubuike for 9 mil over 3 years). But at the end of the day, Posey does address the bench depth and his presence just means that we will be playing smaller off the bench... which isn't necessarily a bad thing.

"I can't belive I get to play with Chris Paul next year!"

My one concern with the signing (that falls squarely into one of Hollinger's points) actually has nothing to do with money, but rather the development of one of our brighter youngsters: Julian Wright. How does Byron work him into the mix with Posey on board? Does JuJu fill Bowen's now empty role as backup of anything from the 2-4 slots (since JuJu can play the 4) or does Byron go through with his strange plan to make JuJu the backup for CP3? (That last statement comes from Stein Line). I just have trouble seeing how Wright can develop alongside a player who is going to be eating minutes as the backup 3. Other than using him and JuJu as a guard-forward tag team behind Mo and Peja, I'm not seeing too many other options... even though that one doesn't sound too terrible now that I've written it out.

However, just for fun, last night my buddy and I played "What would Byron do?" and devised a plan in which we would start Peja at the 2 and JuJu at the 3 and have Wright guard the better player at either position on defense. Then bring Mo off the bench at the 2 and Posey at the 3. It's a scrambled version of the above plan, but it could work. Even good defenders at the 2 might have trouble blocking a jump shot from a guy who's 6-10.

Other than "You are absolutely insane" or "this will never happen", if you have any thoughts on this plan, please feel free to comment.

Oh, and how about that Bobby Brown and the ruckus he's been a-making down in Vegas. Looks like Christmas might come a little early for CP.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Hornets Sign James Posey

And the wait is over! James Posey has agreed to a four-year deal with the Hornets. The contract will cost the team their entire mid-level exception (approximately $5.6 million per year). This move addresses two big issues for the Bees: 1) their need for some veteran leadership from a proven winner and 2) the lack of any bench scoring.

It will be fun to watch Posey pair up with Julian Wright as the team's bench swingmen. With Posey's sharp shooting and JuJu's athleticism, they should complement one another very well. Plus, neither guy is solely a shooter or a slasher. Posey can put it on the floor and draw a foul, and Julian can spot up on the perimeter.

Welcome to the Crescent City, James. We can't wait for you and your championship rings to arrive. I hope you're not happy with just two of 'em.

Now, if the team can just re-sign Pargo or offer Summer League sensation Bobby Brown a cheap contract, the rotation for 2008-09 is pretty much set.

Go Hornets!

Monday, July 14, 2008

The James Posey Sweepstakes

Right after I post that there's nothing to report in free agency, I stumble upon all sorts of articles talking about the Hornets' desire to sign James Posey.

The Times Picayune is reporting that Posey, according to his agent, is still interested in the Hornets. Ken Trahan at NewOrleans.com has an article up about why the team wants to add the veteran swingman to the roster.

And Marc Stein of ESPN.com has confirmed that the Hornets are the team with the best chance to lure Posey away from the defending champs.

Meanwhile, NBC Sports is saying that Posey and the team might agree to a contract today. Although it's getting late in the day, and we still haven't heard any official news.

Stay tuned.

Leaps and Bounds

With nothing to report in the realm of free agent signings, we'll take a look at our two biggest potential internal improvements: Hilton Armstrong and Julian Wright. Both "veteran" Hornets are participating on the summer league team in Las Vegas. Two games into the offseason scrimmages, Hilt is averaging 13.5 ppg and 7 rpg. As usual, JuJu is filling up the stat sheet with some impressive numbers: 11.5 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 3 apg, 3 spg, and 1 bpg. Granted, that's a sample size of only two games. And it's not exactly against the world's greatest competition. But it's nice to see the team's two most recent draft picks (Hilton was 12th overall in 2006 and Julian was 13th overall in 2007) have a solid showing.

It's really no surprise for either player. Armstrong did very well last offseason; unfortunately, that never translated into any significant improvements during the regular season or playoffs. His averages in scoring and rebounding actually dropped from his rookie season to his sophomore year. One writer over at Hoops World thinks that Hilton is a bright spot in the team's future. He certainly could be. But he hasn't proven anything yet. If he can get his on-court game to match what he's shown during the summer, this team will have one thing fewer to worry about.

With JuJu, we've seen more immediate progress. And plenty of long term promise. In his first season as a pro, Julian "Flight 32" Wright averaged 3.9 ppg and 2.1 rpg, all while shooting a very respectable percentage from behind the arc (41.7%) and from the floor in general (53.3%). The per game stats are a little deceptive, because his turning point didn't come until after the All-Star break. His breakout stretch came during two back-to-back home games: March 5 against the Hawks and March 8 versus the Nets. In those two games, JuJu had a combined 33 points, 15 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 steals. His field goal percentage during those two outings was an out-of-this-world 70% including 2/3 on three pointers.

Coach Scott himself has said he'll be keeping an eye on Julian this summer. A midrange jumpshot should be JuJu's main concern during the offseason. He has no problem driving the lane or getting to the rim. But if he could become a shooting threat, Julian would have a good chance to be the league's Sixth Man of the Year. And I wouldn't be surprised to see him crack the starting lineup soon enough. Although he saw limited time on the court (a little over 11 minutes per game), he should be a major part of the rotation next season. Weighing in his favor is the fact that he's an extremely versatile player. At 6'8" he could arguably play either forward spot. And his explosiveness and athleticism make him a good fit for both wing positions. With an improved shot, he could increase his role as a backup shooting guard. And he has a good enough handle to give the team an oversized playmaker on the floor at all times.