The New Orleans Hornets as: The New Orleans Saints

Published: September 19, 2008

[ Ron's note: This post was written by native New Orleanian Mikey Corcoran, as huge a fan of the Saints and Hornets as you'll find. You might know him as "that loud guy" at the Arena, or the dude rocking the teal cap on the St. Charles streetcar on game days. ]

Many of you know Ryan Schwan's posts about Hornets players in reference to Halo characters, D&D classes, or even Team USA and Ancient Chinese Figures. Ole Ron and myself were discussing those comparisons during the Saints season-opener against Tampa two weeks ago, and we decided why not do a comparison of which current Saint is most like a current Hornet? Discussion and informed opinion is always welcome in the comments, but without further ado, here goes nothing…

Drew Brees and Chris Paul - lots in common

Hilton Armstrong – Deverey Henderson
Armstrong, up to this point, has relied on his potential to remain relevant in the NBA. He'll also make a great play or two throughout the course of the season. Most of the time however, he'll have a lapse in concentration or confidence and drop an easy pass, dribble the ball off his foot, or fumble it out of bounds.

Henderson's blazing speed is keeping him in the NFL. No doubt about it, the guy is fast. He too will dazzle you with a highlight-worthy play every now and then. He's usually good for one great catch a game. He's also good for 2 or 3 drops a game as well, and usually has Saints fans pulling their hair out.

Ryan Bowen – Chris Reis
Bowen is 48 minutes of basketball condensed into 7 or so minutes of actual playing time. There is absolutely no way he can keep that level of energy up throughout an entire game. The key to Bowen's game centers around things that "don't show up in the stat sheet" like tipping an alley-oop pass or blocking out an opponent so another teammate can get the rebound. He'll do at least one thing a game that makes you think, "Man, this guy is crazy."

Chris Reis is a special-teamer that more fans see during the preseason than during the regular season. He is complete, unadulterated energy when he steps on the football field. He's a guy that's never afraid to fill someone's shoes to help the team. Technically, he's a safety, but can play some linebacker, is on the "hands" team for onsides kicks, and plays various other roles on special teams. I bet he'd serve jambalaya in the stands if he thought it would help the Saints win. Personally, he's one of my favorite players.

Devin Brown – Aaron Stecker
Brown is the prodigal Hornet, having left the team to join the Cleveland Lebrons in '06. Now he's back with us and that's a good thing. Devin's stat sheet is not going to wow you, and you will rarely see him on the top 10 plays on Sportscenter, but the guy knows the game of basketball. He provides a veteran presence in the locker room and can fill a variety of roles from small forward to shooting guard. I wouldn't be a bit surprised to see him backing up CP3 at some point this season.

Stecker is now in his fifth season with the Saints, and has always played a backup role. Like Brown, Stecker isn't going to give you an ESPY-award -winning performance every time he steps on the field, but he will give you production. He can return kicks and punts, catch the ball out of the backfield, he's not afraid to run it between the tackles, and he delivers a hit as well as anyone his size.

Rasual Butler – Jason David
Is there anyone that has fallen more from grace with the Hornets than Rasual Butler? It's really hard to pick someone else out. Bop was brought in as a free agent a few years back to pretty much do one thing, shoot the deep ball. Somehow last season, he forgot how to do that. He's still a useful player on the defensive end because of his length, but if you can't consistently do what you were brought here to do, you're not going to get playing time, period.

The same can be said for Jason David. A former Super Bowl Champion with the Indianapolis Colts, David came to the Saints with the expectation of shoring up the defensive backfield opposite Mike McKenzie. No one knows if it was the defensive scheme, other personnel, David's size or what, but week after week, Black and Gold faithful watched him get burnt like melba toast. Consequently, just like Butler, if you can't do what you were brought here to do, you're not going to play.

Tyson Chandler – Charles Grant
Tyson is a tall, relatively skinny, yet freakishly athletic center that can be a game-changer if you give him half a chance. He wears his emotions on his sleeve, and plays the game with a fervent passion. His emotions are a double-edged sword. They can really work in his favor, but they can also get in his way. Probably best known last season for those sick alley-oop dunks, Chandler is completely dependent on his teammates for his offensive production.

Charles Grant, from first appearance, doesn't look all that athletic. Don't believe every first impression you get. Grant, like Chandler, is a very emotional player, and it comes with the same set of issues. He can take over a game or be taken out of it by his emotions. Grant can still beat some offensive tackles around the edge in his pursuit of opposing quarterbacks. At this stage in his career though, he relies upon his teammates, namely the Saints defensive tackles and linebackers, to bring pressure and draw double-teams in order for him to be really productive.

Melvin Ely – Scott Shanle
First of all, Ely is a great guy. Those who remember the airport night can attest to that. When Ely gets the ball in the half court, he can showcase a variety of post moves that usually end up with him clanging the ball off the rim. If he can get into a rhythm, he can be dangerous. He is big, just not as talented as a lot of other guys his size, so he needs to learn to play smarter… and pass the ball once in a while.

Shanle, like Melvin Ely, has his moments of making some nice plays. He's just not as athletically gifted as some other players at his position. Opposing offenses regularly exploit him with mismatches, usually with Shanle caught in pass coverage with a faster running back or a bigger, more athletic tight end.

Mike James – Jason Craft/Josh Bullocks
Mike James is slated to start the season as the Bee's backup PG. Being in that role means that he will have some leadership responsibility for the reserve unit. I think the term “cautiously optimistic” is an understatement. Really all Hornets fans want is for James to provide some serviceable minutes, run the offense for the reserve unit, and not blow leads in the 2nd and 4th quarters, forcing the starters to log more minutes than they should.

Craft and Bullocks are backup defensive backs for the Saints, with Jason Craft being a corner and Josh Bullocks being a Safety. When they are in the game, Saints fans just hope and pray that Craft doesn't get burned for a big play, or Bullocks doesn't bite on a run fake and allow a big play to occur behind him. Then, if the worst doesn't happen, Black and Gold faithful can breathe a collective sigh of relief when they see Roman Harper and/or Mike McKenzie come back into the game.

Chris Paul – Drew Brees

This one is a no-brainer. Paul is the undisputed leader of this team. He executes his offense with surgical precision, and makes the other four players on the floor better. He's the best in the game, and is working on being the best ever at his position.

Without Drew Brees the Saints offense would simply cease to function. He's like an extension of the head coach on the field. He can see things before they happen, knows where his playmakers are supposed to be, and puts himself in a position to get the ball to them. He is a lock as a top-5 quarterback in the League.

Morris Peterson – David Patten
Mo Pete is maligned somewhat by some local Hornets' fans, and for the most part I think its unfair. Granted, he doesn't slash to the basket like you see a lot of 2-guards do. That's not really what his role is on the team. He is the starting shooting guard, but taking a closer look, he doesn't get starter minutes. He's a valuable member of the team because he does exactly what's asked of him. If I had one area for improvement for this season, I'd like to see Mo Pete get to the free throw line more often.

Patten has been around the NFL for quite a while now. He won a title or two with the Patriots, and now offering his services to the Saints' receiving corps. He too plays to his strengths, and does what's asked of him. He can also still make a play, so defenses have to respect that.

James Posey – Jonathan Vilma/Randall Gay
Simply put, the Hornets cannot get to the next level if they don't improve the bench. Posey is here to provide some consistency to the reserve unit. He can also fill a variety of roles. He can play the 2, 3 or 4. Look for Byron Scott to use this guy everywhere. He could back up Peja one night, Mo Pete the next, start in place of either, or even back up David West. It's going to be fun to see what Scott does with this gentleman.

Bottom Line for the Saints; Defense, Defense, and more Defense. Defense wins championships, and the Black and Gold aren't winning one anytime soon without some measurable improvement in this area. So the Saints did what the Hornets did with Posey, and went and got some veteran players to help get some consistency. Hopefully they can stay healthy.

Peja Stojakovic – Martin Gramatica
I'm gonna change up the format for this comparison, just for fun. These guys could be twins… like DeVito and Schwarzenegger. But think about it, they are both foreign, they both have black hair, when they line up to take a shot we just expect it to go in every time, and most times they will net their team 3 points. I propose we get some giant Gramatica heads parading around the Superdome every time Martin makes a field goal. Man, that would make my whole season.

David West – Dulymus "Deuce" McAllister/Marques Colston

Ok, you've all been there, watching a Hornets game and not paying any attention to the box score. All of a sudden you take a look at the leading scorers, and there is David West putting up a 30-something on somebody. You think to yourself, "Where did that come from?" That's because West doesn't do flashy stuff, or draw attention to himself. He just does the dirty work, and fills the stat sheet while he's at it. All that banging around does have its drawbacks though. West has missed his fair share of time due to injury in his career. Let us pray!

Colston and McAllister are the same way. You'd look at a box score of a Saints game and see Deuce ran for 125 yards, or Colston had 9 catches for over 100 yards and a touchdown, and you're like, "What?" You're not going to see them break out a sharpie or a cell phone when they score, change their names to Doce and Veintiséis, or go berserk every time they happen to get a first down. They just produce. Unfortunately, also like West, they are injury-prone. Get well soon boys.

Julian Wright – Saints' '07 Draft/FA Class (Meachem, Thomas, Reis, Mitchell, Young, Bushrod)
Took a while for JuJu to break off the bench in his rookie season. We saw him make some bonehead mistakes, but we also saw him make some great plays. Those of us at the ATL game even saw him "jump on it." It's easy to see the basketball instinct is there, now the Hornets just need to get him to play within himself. A lot more is going to be expected of him this season, having worked out with the Hornets summer league team. Look for Byron Scott to be in his ear a lot, wanting him to take that next step in being a consistent contributor to the team.

As good as the '06 draft class was (Bush, Colston, Weatherford, Moore, J. Evans) maybe this is a little unfair, but the '07 class had better step it up. Now I know guys like Pierre Thomas, Marvin Mitchell and Chris Reis have found ways to contribute, and Jermon Bushrod hasn't quite been able to get consistent playing time, but they are always going to be compared to the previous class. I didn't even mention Andy Alleman, because the Saints cut him this year. What the Saints really need to see is at what stage of development these guys are next season. Usually your 3rd season in pro sports is your make-or-break year. JuJu doesn't have that luxury.

Sean Marks – Mark Brunell
This comparison may look totally wrong; a football quarterback compared to a basketball center, but think about this for a moment. The only time you really want to see Sean Marks is for the last few minutes during a blowout, you know, Marcus Vinicius minutes. The same can really be said for Brunell too. And if, by any chance, we see these guys getting significant playing time, then that probably means the season has taken a serious hit and could possibly be over.

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