Prospects for Next Year

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Published: March 24, 2010

Many people have been writing about how the Hornets will be back in contention next year. With the way Collison and Thornton have been playing, there is plenty to be optimistic about. However, let’s not get too excited just yet. I would advise caution in expectations for 3 reasons:

1- The Hornets still have severe problems in their frontcourt. As has been pointed out repeatedly by many people here and as the facts reveal, the Hornets are not very good at rebounding or defending the paint. Every title contender can defend the paint and rebound. They need help. Could the Hornets strike gold two years in a row in the draft with a quality big man? Maybe but its usually tougher for bigs to contribute right away. Getting frontcourt help is a must if the team wants to make some noise next year.

2- Glaring hole at the wing positions. Thornton is an answer. After him there is Wright, Posey, Peja, and MoPete. Not exactly a solid rotation. This could be another draft option or they could look to move expirings. However this leads me to my next point…

3- The Hornets will still be over the salary cap. They could trade JuJu, Peja, and MoPete but they have to be careful in what they take back. Many have already penciled in getting All-Star caliber players. Its the NBA, anything is possible but in reality I have doubts that the Hornets franchise can afford two max players (C. Paul is the other) plus Okafor’s $10 mil+. Could they turn those players into useful assets? Absolutely. I just don’t think it will be the splash we all hope for. 

Bottom line- The Hornets will be a competitive team next year. Collison and Thornton are keepers. If Paul stays healthy and the coaching staff figures out how to use all three, the Hornets will be in the playoffs. But they still have glaring holes to fill and they do not have the resources ($$$) of teams like the Mavs, Blazers, etc. The Hornets have a solid core, but they need to be clever about how they fill in the edges of this team through free agency and the draft. It will be fascinating to watch unfold.

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