First Quarter Grades
Twenty games have come and gone in this NBA season and it’s time to evaluate how all the New Orleans Hornets’ players have performed.
No need to waste any time, so here we go:
Hilton Armstrong: He’s shown almost no improvement in his three plus years in the league and at this point it doesn’t look like he will ever become even a decent backup center. His shot selection is horrible and his rebounding is just as bad.
It’s telling that during warm-ups he takes off balance three-pointers and trick shots that barely belong in a game of HORSE, let along in in the NBA.
Bobby Brown: Signed this off season, Brown was expected to compete with Darren Collison. For a while he did, but apparently he hasn’t improved his shooting or shot selection at all.
In his rookie year he averaged only a single point per shot. This year he’s even worse at only 0.96. As a scorer that does little else well, he’s been a disappointment.
Devin Brown: Going into the year everyone with any knowledge of the Hornets shuddered when thinking of Brown seeing any time at all. The thought of him starting caused was reported to cause seizures in infants and the elderly.
He’s actually been pretty decent aside from his tendency to imitate Pierre Thomas when he drives the hole. Tucking the ball just isn’t an NBA move.
While shooting only 38 percent from the floor, he’s managed to score 1.20 points per shot. His defense has been solid which is more than most expected.
Darren Collison: Generally teams don’t get much production out of late first round draft picks, but in Chris Paul’s stead, Collison was great. He’s been in a bit of a slump since CP3 returned, but even as a backup point guard he looks like a steal.
Ike Diogu: Diogu was supposed to be a big piece of the frontcourt for the Hornets, but seems destined to ride the pine in a suit. Yet to see a minute, Ike remains out indefinitely with a strained knee.
Sean Marks: Marks was brought back to provide emergency depth to the frontcourt after an above average 2008-2009 campaign. He’s looked pretty good in limited minutes, but his injuries have restricted his playing to only five games.
Grade: D (staying healthy is required of an emergency old guy from Australia)
Emeka Okafor: After missing the entire preseason with knee injuries, Okafor was actually rumored to be on the block. Thankfully for Hornets’ fans, there wasn’t much too those rumors.
After an uninspiring start to the season, Okafor has come alive. He’s averaging 11.2 points, 10.2 rebounds and 2.0 blocks in only 30 minutes per game. Also, Emeka has made a number of key defensive plays that have resulted in Hornets victories.
He and Paul haven’t been great together, but they are improving each game. The initial lack of chemistry can easily be attributed to Okafor missing the preseason, but overall the duo still a work in progress.
Chris Paul: Fans wondered what Paul would do in the off season without Team USA, and it appears we have an answer. He worked on his shooting.
He’s on his way to having his best year yet, with career highs in points, shooting percentage, three point percentage, and assist/TO ratio. Even more impressive is that as of now he’s on pace to shatter the single season PER record.
He’s leading the league in three point shooting percentage and is top six in shooting percentage, ahead of every guard in the league and big men such as Andrew Bynum, Carlos Boozer, and Amare Stoudemire, Tim Duncan, and Kevin Garnett.
In addition he added the weight needed to body up bigger guys. Routinely he’s effectively covered players six inches taller than him, allowing the Hornets to play a small guard with him the backcourt.
The only possible knock on Paul this year is his injury, which he came back from earlier than expected.
Morris Peterson: Given every opportunity to shine over the past three years, Peterson is clearly not the player he used to be. He rarely leaves the bench anymore and when he does, it‘s to fetch a towel. He is literally a nobody at this point and wouldn’t be in the league if not for his guaranteed contract.
James Posey: Early on, when the hornets were falling apart, Big Game James was nowhere to be found. He was providing little resistance on D and net even bothering to shoot on offense.
Once Byron left, Posey seemed to find his rhythm. He’s a player that can make a bigger impact on a good team than a bad one.
Darius Songaila: Darius came over in a partial salary dump by the Hornets, but early results show the Hornets as the big winners. Songaila has provided defense, hustle and bench scoring for a team desperately in need of a third big man.
His rebounding has been a disappointment so far, but the Hornets will put up with that as long as he keeps contributing elsewhere.
Additionally he’s found himself on the floor during crunch time on more than one occasion and has yet to disappoint.
Peja Stojakovic: Peja continues to be the most inconsistent player on the team. In two consecutive games he shot one of 15 for two points in 46 minutes, and then the next day he scored 25 on 10-17 shooting.
He remains among the most deadly three point shooters in the league and there are certainly signs that he can still play, but overall he is a shadow of his former self.
Marcus Thornton: The second round pick out of LSU is looking like a complete steal. It’s rare to find even a good bench player that late in the draft, but the Hornets found a guy who very well could be the starting shooting guard before too long.
He’s cooled off considerably as of late, but with Byron Scott out of town he will be allowed to make mistakes and still play. His play is one of the main reasons why the Hornets were able to win a few games without Chris Paul.
If plus/minus stats are your thing, you might like this– He’s the only Hornet in the black this year.
David West: West has been a huge disappointment throguh twenty games. Inexplicably he’s shooting worse, rebounding less, and playing worse defense.
At some point shots will start falling for West, but his rebounding is a concern. Never a particularly strong rebounder, West has been pulling only 9.7 rebounds per 48 minutes. That stat puts him at 35th of 47 among power forwards. It’s a big reason why the Hornets are being out-rebounded by two boards per game.
On offense he’s averaging only 1.13 points per shot while hitting at a rate of 46 percent.
His defense has disappeared. Never a particularly strong defender, West used to make up for his size limitations with pure determination. Now he routinely doesn’t even raise his arms while being scored on in the post.
At some point he will turn it around, but as of now he’s a big reason why they are a losing ball club.
Julian Wright: Slated as the opening day starter in the off season, Wright has been been nothing short of useless. His days as a starter were a complete disaster and he’s found himself glued to the bench in recent weeks. As much as Julian is loved in New Orleans, he deserves to sit.
The only positives about Julian’s season are that he’s aggressively attacking the rim and his defense has been solid. The bad news– Julian can’t finish and average defense isn’t enough to make up for pathetic offense.
As shown, the Hornets have some bright spots, but eight of their fifteen player are either underperforming or not performing at all.