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In the NO Podcast Episode 11: Team Crazy »
As we all wake up with that smile from last night’s thriller still attached to our faces, we can’t help but be optimistic about our future. Even the very pessimistic realistic Michael McNamara, who has justly reminded us in the past about how we shouldn’t think too much of our 11-1 start to the season, must have some optimism at this point. I sure do. As long as this team keeps improving, I will be a happy man. I don’t expect a title run this year, but I do expect to see this team continue to mesh with Mr. Demps actively bugging (no pun intended, seriously) other teams about potential trades. As AgentZiko pointed out in his previous journal entry, league sources don’t see the Hornets making any big moves thanks to the league’s charitable act of buying our beloved team, but I still see many things to be happy about.
It took Okafor some time to get used playing with Paul, but now he’s on a roll. I cannot express how happy I am with Okafor’s improved play. My Bobcats’ Okafor jersey — signed by Rufus (close enough) — is about to be hung up on my wall and taken to my college dorm next year. Who’s to say this won’t happen with other new guys on our current roster? Ryan Schwan… that’s who. I don’t buy it. I tend to agree with Ryan’s views a lot, but I do see Ariza making an Okafor-type improvement to his game. Ariza needs to be fed the ball at the right time to make an impact on offense, and he looks like he doesn’t know where he’s supposed to be half the time. With some extra games under his belt, I expect Ariza to get to the right spot at the right time with more consistency. He’s a “confidence player,” and he seems to be getting it back. It worked for Okafor; why not Ariza?
We have other new guys that could benefit as well like Jack, Green, Smith, and Belinelli, but I only see Jack making any type of significant improvement. He has a nice skill set, and he’s not playing near his full potential right now. I expect him to get there within another 20-25 games.
Extra Wings Anyone?
Paul, Belinelli, Green, Jack, and Thornton; that is our very nice collection of five wing players, so one player is bound to be left out. So far it has been Thornton (and rightfully so), but it cannot and will not stay that way. The guy is too talented to ride the pine. We suck at putting the ball in the hole, and that just happens to be Thornton’s specialty. With Belinelli’s injury, Thornton is bound to get more time and take a place in this rotation. This is only good news for our team. Unlike many of you, I don’t see Thornton as our savior; however, he definitely will help this team. My biggest problem with Thornton is his ability to absolutely kill a play. I want to see him get more of his points in the flow of the game rather than posting up at the right elbow for 10 seconds before shooting a fade away from that spot.
This leaves us with a somewhat valuable trade piece. It may even be Thornton, but a legit 7 foot rebounder is our definite need at this point. Honestly, I’m more terrified when Okafor leaves the game than CP3. Jack isn’t a bad point guard, but Mbenga & Gray should be called the Deficiency Duo. Can someone teach those two how to catch the damn ball!? Possibly use their large bodies? Didn’t think so. We need a center!
I love Monty. Simple as that. I love defense, and I love coaches who demand it. Love is in the air at my place. Monty isn’t a stubborn Byron Scott kind of guy as some people may think. He’s not favoring Willie Green because he “took him under his helm in the past” or because he likes to rely on vets. As stated in the last podcast, Monty wants a pay raise! He’s not going to play guys because he loves them. Also, if he favored vets, Peja would have had significant playing time during our 11-1 stretch. Monty admits his mistakes, and he will only get better with time. He’s definitely feeling pressure as this team continues to take some steps back, but I like the way he’s handling many of these situations.
The guy has made all the right moves. Unlike our previous general manager who shall not be named, he isn’t stubborn either! He traded for Bayless — Bayless didn’t work out — he turned Bayless into Jack. That San Antonio front office has worked wonders over the last 10 years, and it seems Dell has learned something from them. He turned a decent team at best into a near contender. We’re not quite there, but the guy made a huge turnaround with only one good trade chip in Collison, who isn’t having a good season at all in Indiana by the way. Dell should have more moves up his sleeves to make up better.
CP3 & DX
We still have our core, and they are as strong as ever. West is finally playing some defense with his best offensive efficiency ever, and Paul is controlling games like no other. Rather than being optimistic, we can just be thankful for this. With all of the rumors from last summer, 23-16 is probably more than we hoped for. We all deserve it after a horrendously frustrating summer.
With that, let’s all be thankful for what we already have and look at the bright side of all the talent in this organization. David Stern and the attendance problem are trying to bring us down, but there are too many good things going for us to let them do that. With Dallas and San Antonio being so good, our ceiling is the 5th spot in the playoff hunt, and we are only one spot away. Let’s keep improving and watch the Hornets take that spot from the Thunder or Jazz.
Geaux Hornets (:
This post was submitted by Stefan.
Nice summary. I have some Ariza thoughts that I'll share if the next In the NO doesn't address it. Monsieur Mike says 50 games for guys to sync up with Chris' gummibear mode. I deduced the offense clicking about . . . now. Ryan is done with Ariza. Joe guards his opinions carefully.
Ariza is a challenge for the Hornet's fans. Can you love D? The answer seems to be "only at the end of the game." Ariza will eventually become a on O rather than an you wait and see.