Why do we suddenly suck?

Published: November 28, 2007

Less than two weeks ago, when the Hornets were 9-2, I was busy thinking how deserving they were to be sitting atop the Western Conference. After all those season previews predicting that the Hornets would once again struggle to make the Playoffs, I was pretty damn happy that my team was making the so-called experts eat their pessimistic words. The Hornets record start was especially sweet because I had been telling everyone and their second-cousin just how deadly we'd be once healthy.

And now look at us.

The Hornets have lost four of five. That, in itself, would not be so bad except a pair of those losses came at home to Indiana and Minnesota, teams that you know are below us on the food chain.

Now I realize there's a billion more games to play this season, and we're likely to experience many more stretches of good and bad basketball, but here's me today, thinking that our three-year Playoff drought is not certain to end this season. That's quite a change from me considering the Hornets an elite team only two weeks ago.

So, what's the problem? A few theories, in no particular order…

The low attendance
The Hornets are 7-2 on the road, and just 3-4 at home. As of this morning, the teams they've played on the road have a combined record of 56-69 (44.8 percent), and those teams they've played at home are a combined 48-51 (48.5 percent). Not much of a difference there, so you have to start looking at other factors which might make a difference. The obvious one is the poor attendance. So far this season, the Hornets are attracting a league-low 11,478 fans per game (full NBA attendance figures here). That's pretty bad as it is, but what really sucks is the catch-22 of the whole situation: You expect the team to win more when they play to a packed house, but they won't sell the place out unless they rack up the W's.

Relying too much on the jumpshot
Ryan Schwan had a full post on this a few days back, and it's obvious watching the Hornets play that they've been living and dying by the jumpshot, three-pointers in particular. Bombing away from deep isn't really a bad thing, so long as our guys realize when the shots ain't dropping and look to take it to the hole instead. That hasn't been happening enough this season, as evidenced by the fact that we've shot more three-pointers (323) than free-throws (318). That's fucked up.

Bad coaching
Sorry, Byron, but the finger's gotta be pointed at you, too. Why hasn't Julian Wright been getting more playing time? We've got too many guys settling for jumpshots and here's the slasher we need growing roots on the bench. Incidentally, Brandon Bass is looking pretty good over there in Dallas. Beyond that, you haven't exactly been fantastic at managing the flow of games. If the other team drops four or five buckets unanswered, or we go scoreless for five minutes, why not use one of those cool little timeout things so we can regroup and get our shit together? I'm pretty sure the refs allow you to do that.

The injuries threw us
We were 8-2 when Chris Paul hurt his ankle. We managed to beat the T-Wolves on the road despite his absence, but lost to the Magic at home without him. It was against Orlando that Tyson Chandler hyperextended his knee, which caused him to miss a game and a half. With the exception of Paul's 31-point, 11-assist performance on Monday, both players have been sub-par since returning from injury, and the lineup shuffle during their absences may have disrupted whatever kind of chemistry was working for us earlier in the season.

Overhyped roster
Could it be that the roster we've assembled here just isn't that good? A month ago I would have argued that we had one of the best starting five's in the NBA, but now I'm not so sure. Morris Peterson has been disappointing so far, Peja Stojakovic is the definition of inconsistent, and Tyson doesn't look like he'll be making the All-Star game anytime soon. Even David West and CP3 have had their ups and downs. Our bench has been also been horrible for the most part, from Bobby Jackson's erratic play to Rasual Butler's crooked eye.

What do you guys think is causing the Hornets to suck so much lately? Is it a combination of the above? Is it something else entirely? Is it even worth worrying about this early in the season?

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