Five Mantras for the frustrated Hornets fan

By:
Published: March 3, 2011

If you look across the NBA landscape, it is hard to find a team that has frustrated its fan base more than the New Orleans Hornets have this year. The summer started off with the CP3 drama, an assistant who didn’t want to be our Head Coach, an ownership sale that just refused to go through, and the trade of a talented, young First Team All-Rookie point guard.

With all the turmoil, the Hornets started off red hot and raised expectations immensely, as Hornets fans talked themselves into the possibility that this team was a true contender for the NBA title. Acquiring a legitimate backup point guard only got fans more excited, and the 11-1 record had the Hornets sitting on top of the NBA standings. Unexpectedly, a fall from grace occurred and the Hornets lost 13 of their next 20, with some offensive performances that were downright shameful.

The roller coaster went back up just as the New Year began, as the Hornets won 13 of their next 15, including 10 in a row. But just as talk of contending came back, the injury bug stepped in and robbed the Hornets of their February. That brutal month saw the Hornets starters only play together for one game, and the result was a 4-8 record. (They are 4-12 overall in their last 16 games).

Cleveland fans have had a rough year, but they saw it coming. They haven’t had one stretch of games (much less two) where they could have fooled themselves into thinking they were a contender. Same goes for fans of other bottom feeders and borderline playoff teams. Denver fans experienced turmoil with their superstar, as did Utah, but they have purged themselves and are now able to look forward with few expectations for this year.

Nobody has had to endure what Hornets fans have had to go through this year. Did you notice I didn’t even mention the tiny bit of news about the Hornets being purchased by the league? How about the fact that I didn’t even bring up the fact that the Hornets traded their other young bright prospect, who just happened to be a local boy?

But maybe fans will be rewarded for this frustration. Maybe it is just a test to see if we keep the faith, to see if we stay with our team through thick and thin. Keep telling yourself that, along with these five mantras that will keep you sane in the face of unspeakable frozen chicken taboo.

Mantra #1- His knee will be fine, His knee will be fine

All signs point to the fact that Chris Paul should be healthier next year, and this injury just takes time to get better. He will probably never be 100% of what he was physically, but 90% plus a better stroke from distance and an increased IQ could make the difference negligible. But that is next year. Heck, there might not even be a next year. What about THIS year?

Calm down, my friends and repeat the mantra. Remember, it was months ago (not months from now) that CP3 was playing at an MVP level, leading the Hornets to victories in the final five minutes, and shutting down guys like Jose Calderon. Physically he should be able to do it again, but he has to pick and choose his spots. He doesn’t appear to have the stamina to go hard night in and night out for 82 games, but the good news is that the playoffs are a whole different beast. The pace slows down, half court basketball is king, and there are no more back-to-backs.

The last point is key, as Chris Paul morphs into a very average point guard without rest. This season he averages 16PPG (45% FG) and just 7.3 APG on no rest. Compare that with 19.3 PPG (52% FG) and 9.8 APG on 3 days rest or 11.2 APG on 2 days rest. Come playoff time, there are no back-to-backs and series are stretched out. Combine that with the fact that the pace slows down and there is a good chance that even though his knee won’t get better, it will be fine for playoff season.

Mantra #2- We Finally Have a Bench

Anybody want to guess who our second leading scorer off the bench was in the 07-08 playoffs? That’s right- JuJu with a whopping 4.3 PPG. Our big trade deadline acquisition, Bonzi Wells scored just 3.7 PPG on 38% shooting, while Melvin Ely, Ryan Bowen, and Hilton Armstrong all wrestled for the minutes behind West and Chandler. Yet, the Hornets were a shot or two away from advancing to the Western Conference Finals.

This bench is far superior, and although the Hornets are only likely to go 8 deep once the playoffs start, the combo of Landry, Jack, and Belinelli have the chance to be the elite bench in the Western Conference playoffs. Look no further than Tuesday against Toronto to see what they are capable of- 47 points on 60% shooting from those three off the pine.

New Orleans has not had this kind of firepower and versatility off the bench since CP3 came into the league. It was almost an assumption that the bench would squander any lead that the starters gave them, but now this team has the capability of maintaining leads or even increasing them when starters are out. Heck, against Toronto we even saw them get the Hornets back into the game after the starters played horribly.

Mantra #3- Monty and Dell are just Rookies, they will only get better

Any time a rookie player shows flashes, fans start to project that player forward and assume great things for him. They see the highlight dunks, the flashy passes, and the raw skill set and just assume that the rest will come with time. Fans overlook the occasional bonehead plays and bad shots, brushing them off as “rookie mistakes” that are to be expected.

Why aren’t we willing to do the same for coaches and executives in personnel? Are they expected to do everything right from their first day on the job? Do they have no learning curve whatsoever? Isn’t it possible that they will see the error of their ways and come through better on the other side?

I know that I have seen flashes from these two that show me that they are capable of great things moving forward. The culture of this organization as a whole has changed, the mentality of the players on the defensive end has changed, and both men have held themselves accountable for mistakes made this year. They have no illusions that they are finished products in their profession, and therefore they are willing to continue their growth. This year they revamped the defense; no doubt that next year there will have to be more of a focus on the offense.

With the glimpses we have all seen and the work ethic they obviously have, there is no reason not to expect that they continue to improve moving forward.

Mantra #4- The Hornets are here to stay

Hanging over everything in this mess of a season, is the uncertainty of where this team will play its home games in the not to distant future. Will the NBA find a local buyer? Are they just posturing to raise the price for an out of town sale? Is contraction a possibility? Until these questions get answered, Hornets fans are unable to truly enjoy the fruits of the teams’ labors. Even when the team was on top of the standings, fans were still concerned with this sale and with what it would mean for the future of D West, CP3, and others.

The NBA has no reason to sell right now, as the price is sure to go up after the union is crushed in the next CBA. But when it does come time to sell, will the owner be local? Will a certain man with his own personal treasure chouest enter back into the picture? Will he be able to look David West and Chris Paul in the eye and tell them that he is willing to do whatever it takes to build a long-tem winner?

I say yes. I could go on for another two or three paragraphs speculating as to why, but instead I will just chant the mantra…. The Hornets are here to stay…… The Hornets are here to stay……

Mantra #5- The Hornets are like Magellan, they’re so gellin’

Look at the box score from the last game of 2009-2010. Now look at last nights box score. How many guys are the same? David West, Emeka Okafor, and should we count Aaron Gray? Ok, sure, lets count Gray. That is 3. Wanna throw in CP3, even though he missed half the season? Fine, I’ll give you four. How about everyone else? Jack, Belinelli, Willie Green, Jason Smith, Q-Pon, David Anderson, Trevor Ariza. All new.

It took Emeka time to figure out how to play with West and CP3. Ariza had a rough two months before settling into his own for a stretch there. Jack looked awful for the first 40 games or so, and it took half of a season before coach realized that Marco and Willie would be better off switching roles. Landry’s game can fit in almost anywhere, so he might not take as long, but he still will have growing pains.

Point is that this team has a bunch of new faces and dominant NBA teams have traditionally been teams that have played together for a number of years. You can insert a new piece or two here and there and not miss a beat, but a complete overhaul is usually a recipe for disaster. The Hornets have done well in spurts this year, but nothing can substitute for time- and that is what this roster needs. Time together to grow, to figure each other out, to be able to communicate without being verbal, etc.

These next twenty games will give them a chance to do that, and we have seen the leaps that certain players have made in the past once they get more comfortable. But it is not only the players, the coaches also need adjustment time. They need to figure out rotations, comfort zones, and play calls that maximize the talents of the specific lineups on the court. If both the players and coaches keep working, it is possible that this team can hit their stride right as the playoffs begin.

And if they do, boy is that team scary. In fact, that might be one to save as our playoff mantra. Say it with me now… Boy, is this team scary….. Boy, is this team scary…… Boy, is this…..

128 comments
nikkoewan
nikkoewan

2.) Look at the following Coach X 40-42 Lost 1st round 50-32 Lost in Conf Semi Coach Y 30-52 Miss 45-37 Lost 1st round 19-31 FIRED Coach Z 42-40 Lost in Conf. Semi 59-23 Lost in Conf. Finals Notice anything? Every one of them had a record of barely above 0.500 their first year, and them significantly improved during the 2nd year. Who are those coaches? X? Doug Collins. Y? Jerry Sloan. Z? Stan Van Gundy. ALL 3 CONSIDERED TO BE GREAT COACHES. All had the same or BETTER talent than the Hornets right now. So if you're unhappy with a 35-28 from a rookie head coach on pace for 44-38, then you're clearly spoiled and ungrateful. Yes, Monty makes mistakes, and yes he should be held accountable for his mistakes. But shouldn't we give him credit where credit is due? I notice that on games where Monty did an INCREDIBLE job of coaching, nobody seems to praise him. but when he's done something wrong, everybody seems to HATE on him. And i know everyone wants improvement immediately. But that's almost impossible. Can you get better at shooting a jumpshot by just practicing for one week? NO. One month? NO. One year? Maybe. Two Years? Maybe. I personally guarantee 2 things.. We'll make the playoffs. Monty will be better next year(or during 2012-13 if there's a lockout). Quote me.

nikkoewan
nikkoewan

i hate it when people get spoiled. 1.) Spoiled that we aren't getting the same CP3 as 07-09. People need to understand he's not that guy anymore. It doesn't make him worse or anything, it just means different. if he can return to October - November form, we'd be talking 3rd seed or 4th seed right now. CP3 is different. And all this theory's about Paul making the Hornets think his tradeable, or he's checking out, or he's bored or unmotivated --> They all do not look like CP3 qualities. He's a down to earth guy. One of the few(i actually believe Deron, Howard, and CP3 are not Lebron-ish or Bosh-ish or Melo-ish) superstars like that. I ask everyone again, give him time. His coming back from a knee injury. Imagine if you have a huge scar on your face because of a driving accident. You think you can drive soon? There would be trauma involved. Or if you had your fingers cut because of a knife. You wouldn't be able to cook or even hold a knife. Give him time.

L_Reazy
L_Reazy

UNATTRACTIVE FACT OF THE DAY: If the Hornets lose tonight against the Memphis Grizzlies they fall to 8th place with Phoenix breathing down there necks, and Memphis moves up to 7th place in the Western Conference standings. So, if that point guard from Wake Forest is going to have a 'BIG' game it should be tonight! Right? L_REAZY

Brandon
Brandon

Derrick Rose teammate. PPG year before he joined Rose PPG this year Luol Deng. 17 points. 17.7 Carlos Boozer. 20.1 points. 18.8 points Joakim Noah. 6.6. Points. 13.5 points D Rose gets 8.2 points per game. He does turn the ball over sometimes but that's inexperience. If you are saying Derrick Rose is not a point guard, then Oscar Robertson and Gary Payton are not point guards. (not to put words in your mouth) Derrick Rose is not a ball hog. He is the best offensive weapon the bulls have. Why do you think Derrick Rose is nt backing up Jeff Teague right now and Kirk Hinrich is. Watch a Bulls game and then say Derrick Rose is nt a point guard. Derrick Rose killed every point guard you mentioned except Russell Westbrook. Again I love Chris Paul as a basketball player and a humanitarian but there is no way Chris Paul could lead the hornets to beat the bulls right now. Point blank

Kenny James
Kenny James

Thornton's Thunder, Ditto. Well said. Why is it that Hornet fans refuse to be realistic? This team is currently playing their way right out of the playoffs, yet some of the comments i've read are borderline delusional. Chris Paul is not injured, he's apparently packed it in. And this locker room crap you speak of is no reason to trade away a great player. This is not a girlscout camp, its the NBA. You don't have to like everyone, just be professional and play your best. I like Carl Landry and think he is a fine addition, but you don't build a better team by trading away quality players. Enough on this subject.

Brandon
Brandon

Derrick Rose is the best point guard in the league. Chris Paul has the talent but he is just so unselfish and he does nt have the quickness to score love he did in the 08-09. Chris hasn't brought the ball up court and ran all the way to the goal and layed it up since last year. Chris is a great guy but he is an overrated scorer. I like the guy but unless you are the celtics, the bulls, or you have Magic Johnson the best player on your team cannot be a point guard. Dwest is gone after this year. This team needs a true scorer (one of the reasons Chris Pauls assist are down) and no disrespect to the hound Carl Landry but we probably lost that scorer in Marcus Thornton. We should go after Nick Young in the offseason.

lancebrou68
lancebrou68

yo, unknown where did u hear this from or where did u get your sources from

unknown
unknown

If you go to the website hoopshype go on rumors and click new orleans, monty was talking about how he see fear in players eyes he made a comment like "I saw fear in some of the guys on our team tonight" and ." ... I'm not going to tolerate guys not playing with passion and guys playing afraid."

unknown
unknown

oh yea and Marcus thornton scored 26 points

unknown
unknown

Well after the game in the locker room Dwest was fed up with and the way chris has been playing and spoke his mind in frount of the players and coaching staff. chris and dwest got into a verbal fight. the fight was so bad that monty after told the reporters to go away.

Jordan
Jordan

Can someone please fill me in on David West getting into the team after the game? This is the first of heard of anything like that, but I think that EXACTLY what this team needs! (depending on what he supposedly said, of course haha. I don't know the details)

Sincerely Yours96
Sincerely Yours96

IMO i think that this team wud benefit from a faster tempo. CP3 probly has the best court vision in the whole league and wud definelty create opportunites with his defense. Right now we get stuck painting the floor wit the ball and jus drain the shot clock with a bad shot. We hold teams but in turn we dont score. In 07-08 we were effective running the ball. 56 wins. We wud jus have to keep defense in mind. What wud u think of a faster tempo?

Apple
Apple

IMHO...CP3 isn't in a slump. He's in "protection mode". He gets injured because he plays so hard and he knows it. I think he's protecting himself until he signs a nice long, lucrative contract...wherever...that will cover him no matter what happens. Then he can relax and play Paul Ball, again. Whoever gets him in a contract like that will get the most awesome Point Guard in the NBA...ever. I just hope it will be in New Orleans.

nikkoewan
nikkoewan

i love the disucssions guys. It's more professional that what it used to be. But CP3 is still the best. Maybe not the best right NOW, but he's still the best overall. He's slumping now. Did anybody say anything when Westbrook was shooting less than 40% this year? same goes with Rose and Williams. If you cut them some slack, might as well give it to CP3.

Unknown
Unknown

Word is that Dwest was yelling at paul about how he was not playing with effort in frount of the players and the coaching staff in the playroom after the knicks game.

ur_gmas_daughter
ur_gmas_daughter

Man well at least the idea for this post was good. It started out as a calming yoga session and now I feel like I'm in one those rooms without windows in 105 degree heat doing Bikram Yoga with the smell of ball sweat

Hordan
Hordan

@Kenny James: The reason Thorton is thriving so much is because he fits in with their system. Run around and shoot when you choose too. Thorton would probably thrives with the Knicks too. It's all about the pace. You can't really compare what he does from that perspective considering the Hornets are alot better than the Kings, most the time.

L_Reazy
L_Reazy

'AgentZiko' your saying that he used to control the game better than any other point guard, right? He used to be the best, flat-out PG, right? ...I mean, yea, he is still very good, even if he is 70 percent, but, we can't be bias here just because we're Hornets fans either. He is no longer the best ... just a fact of what we can see ... agree or not? QUESTION: Would you have traded CP3 for Devin Harris, Derrick Favors, a 1st rd pick in 2011, and a 1st rd pick in 2012? If so, than he is trade-able ... agree or not? L_REAZY

Mr.C
Mr.C

Look we all got to face the fact that Paul is not the player he was two years ago, he slow, his shot is off!!! He dont get the calls he use to get, so I dont know whats the problem but I would trade him because Jack is out playing him now with alot less mins.

Caleb
Caleb

Well, it does make him worse. Significantly worse if we go by the standards of the past month or so. But I certainly don't its all over or anything remotely in that vein. He'll bounce back eventually.

Caleb
Caleb

"apparently packed it in" is just random speculation, and contradictory to everything we've learned about CP since he was first drafted.

42
42

Let's say we don't make the playoffs. What is materially different between that and making the playoffs? What is the concern?

Caleb
Caleb

Overrated scorer? Really? Chris Paul has been an absolutely incredible scorer for most of his career by combining both productivity (21 ppg in 07-08, 22 ppg in 08-09) and ultra high efficiency - offensive ratings of 125 and 124 those years, over 1.4 points per FGA, etc. This year he hasn't been much of a scorer, but his career as a whole is a different story. "best player on your team cannot be a point guard" Nonsense. If that best player is Chris Paul playing at his usual MVP-level, I don't see the problem. The only issue is CP has not been playing at that level.

AgentZiko
AgentZiko

Derrick Rose is not a PG. Look at his numbers and compare them to Kobe Bryant. Derrick Rose actually shoots more per game than Kobe does. The guys a ball hog. He's more of an Iverson than a PG. He's literally an undersized shooting guard. Even Del Negro thought so when he was coaching and started Hinrich at the 1 and Rose at the 2. POINT GUARDS in the league, as in PGs who make their teammates better: CP. Nash. Rondo. DWill. Westbrook.

Jordan
Jordan

Someone stole my name... Identity theft!

Michael McNamara
Michael McNamara

Faster tempo would work short term, and honestly it was playing fast that got us back in the Raptors game and got us such a big lead in the Rockets game. Two problems: 1.) We aren't getting the stops needed to get out and run 2.) Come playoff time it will be half court basketball anyway This team has to find an identity in the half court that works. Relying on jump shots or David West isolations will not consistently work. This team needs to be more aggressive attacking the rim, moving off the ball, and rolling to the bucket hard off of screens. They need to get that nastiness back, and hopefully it starts tomorrow night.

42
42

All this best talk is well-intentioned, but misguided. There is no set of criteria, which is why it makes for good discussion, but which is also why it often descends into mere debate and sophistry, Chris is suffering. Whether it be physically, mentally, emotionally, whatever . . . the dude could be pinging for New York, North Carolina, or the frazzlin' fjords for all I care, but the dude is suffering . . . publicly. Publicly. He didn't do anything `wrong', like Eldrick Tont Woods did (according to the most practiced moralities). Suffering publicly is not something to wish on most. Glossophobia is often cited as a top fear. Imagine suffering publicly, then being asked to talk about it after your suffering just caused you to, in your mind, embarrass yourself and what you hold dear. Give the guy a respite. Nikko, I'm replying to you to `heighten' what you are saying, not refute it.

Jordan
Jordan

Can you please give some details? I would love to hear about this

L_Reazy
L_Reazy

LOL ... right! Our team has too many issues right now for us to be sane. But, I appreciate the therapeutic treatment! L_REAZY

Thornton's Thunder
Thornton's Thunder

Thornton is 'thriving' because he has a bunch of guys (and his coach) who has made him know that they believe in him...period! He no longer has to worry about whether he will lose playing time simply because his coach would rather play 'his' guy instead! I'm sure he'll work his tail off to get better in this league, but for now, playing time will be his best teacher! I'm so glad he's in a place where an entire team and city has embraced him with open arms. I know he'd rather be here with us in N.O., but I say...Geaux Marcus...finally you can grow & develop into the player that we all know you can be! Anyone interested, geaux to sactownroyalty.com and read what folks are saying about him there...it's crazy! Please pay particular attention to the article referencing the impression of Marcus Thornton! I loved it!

AgentZiko
AgentZiko

I'm not biasing anything Reazy. He IS the best. We all agreed he was the best when the team was winning. But now that we're in a slump, he's not? Cut the guy some slack. What are you going to say if he comes out the rest of the season and averages 17pts, 11asts, 5rbs, and 3asts, and we win 80% of our games? That he came back from the dead? And no way in heck would I make that trade. NO WAY. Might work for the Jazz, but not for the Hornets.

Caleb
Caleb

He was still the best PG for the first 30 games or so this season. The guy was leading the league in PER and Win Shares for quite a while. He hasn't been as good since. I don't see a reason to think he'll never be again simply because he's played poorly for lately. "QUESTION: Would you have traded CP3 for Devin Harris, Derrick Favors, a 1st rd pick in 2011, and a 1st rd pick in 2012?" Definitely NOT.

nikkoewan
nikkoewan

No i mean many are complaining about his deference in late game situations. i don't see that as a problem. I see that as a different CP3. one that's REALLY more of a passer than a scorer. I too think he'll bounce back.

Kenny James
Kenny James

Sorry, "packed it in" was a little harsh. Misstroke on the keyboard. Though, someone must have reignited him for last night. Hope it continues.

Caleb
Caleb

Sure he's a PG. He may not be a "traditional" PG... but uh, he has an AST% of 40.9%, which is among the top 10 in the NBA.

Caleb
Caleb

The 1974 Celtics won a championship playing at a speed of 110 possessions a game. An insanely fast number by today's standards, and top 5 back then. The Lakers won championships as a fast-paced team in the 80's. Of course they also had Magic, Kareem, Byron, etc. They were generally among the top 10 in pace, and averaged well over 100 possessions a game. 100+ possessions a game these days is almost unheard of. The "run and gun" Suns of the past six or seven years? 95-96 possessions a game on average. The game as a whole has slowed down. In the 70's and prior teams that averaged 102, 103 possessions a game were actually on the slow end of the spectrum. Pace ultimately doesn't matter that much. Playing well at whatever speed you play at matters.

paul
paul

Playing fast running basketball will never win a championship. I am not sure if this style ever won. The great teams have always run slow deliberate half court games. I am not saying they could not fast break, because they could. They just don't design their game around it. It's an entertaining style, but it will not, never has, won championships.

Sincerely Yours96
Sincerely Yours96

The good thing wud be that we cud still play half court effectively because weve shwon that. I jus think that a uptempo wud help

Caleb
Caleb

Regardless of how supportive those two fellows are... this statement: "He no longer has to worry about whether he will lose playing time simply because his coach would rather play ‘his’ guy instead!" is undoubtedly true.

AgentZiko
AgentZiko

Do you know who Paul Westphal is? Do you honestly think Demarcus Cousins is an embracing and supportive kind of guy?

Caleb
Caleb

Hey paul., how are you? When the stats *overwhelmingly* support the evidence that Chris Paul has been the best PG since he entered the league... I don't know how anyone can argue otherwise. People like to say that "stats don't tell the whole story," and that's true... but they tell *more* of the story than anything else. They are the best tool we have to evaluate players.

AgentZiko
AgentZiko

There is an article I read awhile ago regarding PGs... I'm gonna find it tomorrow... About how statistically, CP is on his way to being the best and most efficient PG ever because he has the best assist to turnover ratio of any PG including John Stockton and Magic Johnson.

L_Reazy
L_Reazy

'Ziko', I guess what I mean is ... his 'Play' & 'Stats' proved he was the best in 07-08 & 08-09! You cannot hold titles of 'the best' if it no longer applies. Right now he is not the best PG ... and I really wonder if it matters that much to him anyway? That being stated, he is still my favorite player to watch ... it's just been tough lately. Nevertheless, without bias, I'm calling it the way I see it to! Hard for anyone to digest. L_REAZY

paul
paul

He is not the best, and I am not sure if I would ever have called him the best. I guess I am alone here, but that's a real tough spot to take. Perhaps there were periods when he lead the stats at the position, but that does not make you the best.