Sources: Third Time is a Charm

By:
Published: December 29, 2011

Allow me to be the first one to admit that I drastically underestimated our* ability to win games this year when making my predictions about how we would fare. Originally ESPN.com asked nearly everyone in their arsenal to predict win total for every team in the league. At the time, I was under the impression that Monty would struggle to get everyone on the same page fast enough to get out of the first month of the season alive, which would result in a fire sale as the playoffs fell out of the window of possibility.

Needless to actually say (I will anyway), I chose a low number. I thought we had the potential to be a train wreck on offense for long stretches. In the Hornets247 season preview I had slightly higher hopes for wins (between 25 and 30), but still I was weary, no longer expecting a huge departure of talent around mid-season, but still very skeptical of the playoff possibility some fans had entertained.

For the most part I had witnessed a training camp that involved Monty telling reporters that he was looking at plans F or G, and then later that he was actually in a pre-planning stage. It wasn’t even clear if the Hornets would realistically have a full roster until the eve of their first preseason game.

Greivis Vasquez wasn’t a name I was more than vaguely familiar with until a handful of days ago, and certainly not someone who I thought would replace Quincy Pondexter as my favorite player to watch from the 2010 draft after two games of observing him. My money says that he’s going to be a lot better than the average basketball fan gives him credit for, both this year and into the future.

Chris Kaman is guy that can be worth eight wins this year who I credited for about three. As I said in the recap of the Boston game, he’s the most complete player on the court right now for the Hornets. I overlooked his multi-dimensional offensive game. His defense is much better than I thought it would be, especially when paired with Emeka Okafor. Those two are going to be downright tough to score on most nights. Frankly I blame his being on the Clippers. I just associate them with bad players at this point.

We can talk about Eric Gordon a bunch since he was by far the most discussed player in the Clippers deal, but I’d rather just look at a few choice numbers—

38.4 and 55.6. The first is how many points per 48 minutes of clutch time he scored last year. The latter is his shooting percentage on said shots. The key to beating expectations is winning close games, and I truly wasn’t aware that he we were replacing our ex-clutch stud with a new one. Let’s just say the Phoenix game opened my eyes a bit in that regard.

Anyway, let me get to my point—I want to revise my prediction for wins this year one last time. I know this stinks and that it’s total BS, but cmon! If there was ever a time to allow early in-season changes to win predictions, this is probably the year.

Let me back on the train, baby!

39 wins. 27 losses.

Playoffs.

*You or someone you love may have noticed that I often refer to the team in the possessive sense, using words like “we” and “our”. When I first started writing it was sort of unintentional, a mixture of an unrefined style and careless editing. It’s not anymore. It hasn’t been for a while.

In the past 18-plus months, ever since Chouest reportedly finalized a deal to buy the team and then never did, things have been tough down here. Hornets’ fans have constantly dealt with not having a clear owner, which was perfectly illustrated during the failed Lakers deal, or a defined future (Heeeeeeere owner, owner owner….)

We have been left knowing only one real thing—Ensure that lots of tickets get sold or there’s a good chance the team will be gone. The Hornets fate was and is ultimately left in the hands of those like you (I’m looking at Hornets employees, season ticket holders, other media people, occasional attendees, international superfans, the Bee-Zanies, etc) and me.

So please excuse me for thinking of the Hornets as our team. It’s not a habit I plan on breaking.

39 comments
Vazquez is a beast
Vazquez is a beast

Ridiculous prediction. 1. Hopefully we don't do that well -- we need a solid pick. 2. We aren't actually any good, despite what any lockout influenced results have shown this far. VAZKEZ IS A BEAST

JaeAmazin
JaeAmazin

We're Going to the Playoffs..HornetsNation!

MontyForMayor
MontyForMayor

This is just downright exciting. This team, the city, the casual and diehard fans alike. New Orleans, we need to support this team. They could have laid down and been the have-nots or will-nots or misfits or whatever else ESPN was calling us. But this team, along with its Coach and GM have risen to the challenge and has shown its city that it's going to fight. It's not about wins and losses this year for us. We just need to keep fighting and believing and showing love to these men that are giving it their all. We have Monty f'n Williams, perhaps the best coach in the NBA. We have players that are fighting. We're lucky to have these guys.

Tim
Tim

We're second in points allowed so far, trailing only the Atlanta Hawks who played the Wizards and Nets in their first two games. Our next three games are Phoenix, @ Sacramento, @ Utah. I foresee a 5-0 start!

Jason
Jason

This weeks games gives a reason to be hopeful for the year and the future, but can hardly be used to indicate any type of dominance. Just like we should discount the Mavs and the Lakers starts, we can't get too excited about the NOH being 2-0 or the Hawks dominating teams on their way to 2-0. If last year proved anything, it was that the NBA season is LONG. We started out last year as the longest undefeated team and then later had a 10+ game win streak. We still couldn't capture a top 4 seed in the playoffs which could have been the difference between getting to the second round and potentially even retaining CP3 (though I think that ship had sailed). What excites me: We pulled out a close game on the road against Phoenix, a borderline playoff team that had the benefit of experience and continuity. We then beat a tired Celtics team that was missing Paul Pierce, but without our best player. That is a critical point. Our team could have just folded without Gordon but we are brash, and arrogant and I don't think this team is going to appreciate being considered a team of cast offs or also rans. Ariza, Jack, and Vasquez wont let up, and Gordon will be the guy we can rely on when you need more than just grit and perseverance. Moving forward I will be interested in seeing how this team A) Responds to Losses, B) Maintains focus over a 66 game season, and C) Can handle increased expectations if they start winning games. What I can say definitively: These were two games that going into the season we were unsure we would win. If this team beats the teams they should beat, and pulls out some of the toss up games, we will be a playoff team and potentially even a Top 4 team. Our chemistry will only get better as the season goes (as will other teams), and every advantage we can start the season with in a short season is huge. We need to open 7-3 to really feel good moving forward.

bee dat
bee dat

I wrote after suns game I couldn't wait for prognosticators on this site and others eat crow. Joe, you do so like a fan and in a timely fashionm much credit to you foor that! To those rationalizers, do you think the c's aree the only old and/or tired team we're going to catch this game? You're conveniently overlooking the abscence of arguably our two most keys players in those games. The thing that amazes me most is how even the biggest bball and/or. Hornets fans tend to bias their assessments of players and teams primarily towards offensive prowess (I cite the common maligning of trevor, our main (but not only) defensive lynchpin). Defense wins games!!! Monty knows that, but many of us are slow to pick up on it. We have an elite defensive squad (how many times were the suns held to 85 pts last year and beyond?). I just hope the fans appreciate what we have going on here, success through substance, fundamentals and hard work. It was far too sedate in arena for a romping over payoff team in home opener last nite. Open your hearts and mouths and let these kids know we appreciste that effort snd desire! Bee dat!

Elias
Elias

Yeah, and holding the celtics to 78pts is no joke either. GO DEFENSE!! GO HORNETS!!

Babyboi5
Babyboi5

As much as Coach Rex Ryan gets on everyone's nerves w/his talking, you can't deny his passion, his belief in his team. Ryan & the Jets aren't trying to be a .500 team or just make the playoffs-THEY'RE EXPECTING TO WIN IT ALL!!! That is supposedly the goal for all teams-winning a championship!!! I need someone to present a strong case as to why the Hornets CAN'T WIN THE TITLE THIS YEAR. To me, the NBA is WIDE OPEN THIS YEAR. In order to win, you have to believe you are going to win. That's what the LAKERS, CELTICS, HEAT, SPURS do every year-they expect to win. Wanna know what LOSING or TANKING gets you-top 5 in the draft, but ask the MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES how picking top 5 every year works out-they STILL CAN'T WIN!!! Bottom line is if you SPEAK VICTORY INTO YOUR SITUATION, you half way there to accomplishing your goal. All you have to do is believe

504ever
504ever

Talent level, is the reason the Hornets won't win it all. We have won two games, probably two that many didn't except us to win. That is great, but first things first, we have to MAKE the playoffs and we are 64 games away. Let's be happy making the playoffs is a realistic goal this year, but let's not forget Jim Mora when he had a good Saints team that beat weak teams but lost to the perinially strong 49ers: Playoff? Playoffs?

Zombian
Zombian

Firstly, I echo the call "Bring in Mikestradamus!". Secondly, I absolutely love the post script here. I never see anything like that on other teams' blogs which only goes to show that Hornets really do have the best fans. Thirdly, I must also echo Rohan from the At the Hive blog here. Watching the game from the Celtics commentary one can only draw the conclusion that "Tommy Heinsohn is a flaming imbecile" Fourthly, I have the hardest time watching Hornets games this season. I love them and want them to win a title and I think a tank job is the best way to get it but I can't find it in me to root for my team to lose (especially against the no-fun, cheap-ass Celts). I think there is a method behind winning for now but I think I'll save that for a journal entry later.

nikkoewan
nikkoewan

Joe Gerrity is a terrible predictor!! Bring in Mikestradamus! LOL

Joe Gerrity
Joe Gerrity

haha. If there's one thing I've been pretty good with predicting so far in my short writing career it's been win-loss record. Mike on the other hand thought we would lose game one! Maybe Mike and I need to bet on whether or not we make the playoffs this year?

Joe Gerrity
Joe Gerrity

It's on. Not cash, brother. Something better. We'll talk.

Michael McNamara
Michael McNamara

Let's just put it this way- I am willing to put my money where my mouth is. Anybody who wants to put up a friendly wager on whether or not the Hornets will make the playoffs can email me anytime. I will take out a second mortgage if I have to show the money up front. Willing to take on whomever wants a piece of the action. Ryan Schwan would be rolling over in his grave if he had to hear about us being excited by a guy scoring 12 points on 15 shots. But I understand the need to hope for the best. I just hope that need equals $$$$ for me! :)

Joe Gerrity
Joe Gerrity

I kid obviously, Mike's been dead on with transaction predictions this year. Nobody has been close to his level.

Joe Gerrity
Joe Gerrity

I'm actually glad to see that not everyone is so optimistic. I won't be re-doing my prediction again. This one stands. Let's see how it plays out. Let's just say I'm excited that nobody has called foul on my do-over.

James Online
James Online

Vasquez is a nice addition, but has a limited offensive game. And as for the Gordon stats, check the "games played" for the past two years. Lucky if he plays two-thirds of the games with the Bees this year. Injury prone especially because most his offense comes from driving to the hoop.

Ian H.
Ian H.

I think in your heart you knew the Hornets were constructed well and you were unsure about the backup PG position at the time of your last prediction, but your brain was hoping they would struggle just to set themselves up better in the draft for the future. You originally chose your brain, which is very sensible but you was hoping to see a few things in early games before you went with your heart. They are extremely deep and deep with young guys who have room to improve. Oldest guy is a 29 yr old skilled 7 footer I'll take that any day.

Ian H.
Ian H.

Losing will undoubtedly come and come soon, but either way this team is much better constructed than originally given credit for. They have some advantages schematically and physically that they didn't have last year. Those advantages cannot be underestimated, especially in a shortened season in which teams lack the preparation time to adjust as much. They will catch several teams flatfooted just based on their size and depth.

Eric
Eric

RE: the Kaman comments, I'm glad your happy to have chris on board. As a life-long clipper fan, I've been a big fan of his gam (and personality). While he's played two decent games for you so far, keep in mind he can get incredibly clumsy in the paint and his new found love of the mid-range jumper causes him to be out of rebounding position. There will be times when he will single-handedly lose you games. I love your team now for obvious reasons and have pretty much watched every minute of preseason and these past two reg season games. While at first glance you don't seem like a playoff team on paper, the west is wide open and I'm super impressed with monty. It's def not a stretch to think you'll make the playoffs. Go clips, go hornets. (in that order) Peace

Pluto D
Pluto D

Gotta love the enthusiasm, but this is 2 games into the season. We beat the Suns by a point, and ran over a tired, depleted Celtics team at home. There is plenty of room for losing, and it will start to happen. Make no mistake, these were great wins, and we do in fact have a very SOLID team. I love the Hornets and I'm excited for us, but I'm not expecting a winning season after the first two games. I'm ok with losing right now. I'm also excited to see how Aminu develops (random comment, i know)

Pluto D
Pluto D

Oh yeah and speaking of EXCITING, Minnesota is 0-2 and play Miami next

JT's Hoopsblog
JT's Hoopsblog

I especially like the play of Carl landry. I can't believe how well he has been rebounded so far this season. he has certainly bounced back from that debacle at Sacramento. Who is the PG? Is it Jack? Last time I saw eric Gordon and Marco Belinelli start at the guard spots. Is Trevor Ariza taking up the ball-handling duties. It's probably for the best because the last thing you want is that guy shooting.

Jason Calmes
Jason Calmes

Jack was suspended game 1. Jack is the expected starting PG for the year and Monty has called him "Our Leader."

GecGreek
GecGreek

We won a one point game against one of the worst teams in the league, then we won aginst the most tired team in the league.. It's too early to say we are going to be a 50%-wins-team

Stew
Stew

Any team with Curry and Lee on their roster is not "one of the worse teams in the league." And they may have been tired, but they're the CELTICS, brah. THE CELTICS. *sips fourth glass of Kool-Aid today*

Joe Gerrity
Joe Gerrity

The kool-aid dude. Just drink it. It's delicious and nutritious.

nolahog
nolahog

Who has time for rational thinking like that when there's all of this delicious creole blue kool-aid lying around that needs to be drank?

Ian H.
Ian H.

Being truly objective this team has more talent than last year's team. Let's really look at the facts, CP3 was coming off on an injury and refused to shoot the ball in the 4th quarter in a handful of games and wasn't himself until the playoffs. JJack is a starting PG in the league and is literally better than 15 other PGs in the league. Is his 15/8 expected average that far off of CP3 18/9? We lose D-West but it gives Landry more opportunity to do what he does well and that's score, get to the line, and play ABOVE the rim and his 17/8 expected average will compare favorably to DWest's quiet 19/8 average. The difference is adding Gordon's explosive scoring punch and Kaman's nightly dominance of other team's 2nd unit bigs. That's 35 pts we didn't have from Willie Green or Jason Smith playing huge roles last year. Also Marco now comes of the bench with a year of starter's experience along with a 6'6 young energetic backup PG. The Hornets have the ability to go small with Vasquez and Jack or big with Vasquez and Marco/Gordon and not sacrifice ball handling or defense whatsoever like we would do last year. This team is a matchup nightmare they are so big at most crucial positions they can matchup against any team and any style and is far more versatile than last year's team. If guys continue to buy in they will be a dangerous team and they have an excellent coach who will out gameplan most coaches on a nightly basis.

Aye Bra
Aye Bra

Long-time reader! First-time poster! Joe, that's what I love about this site. It's not ESPN (well, not technically); you can renege when you're assumption is wrong. Especially with all the changes going on, how can you project the Hornets right now? Really!?! How can anyone? With Monty and Dell, there is no clear picture. Unlike many of the predictions on this site, they want to win, and they want to win now! Geaux!

Ron
Ron

Over the past two years I've come to realize that the key to success is the competence of the organization (owner, GM & coaches), not the physical talent of the players. You can see this in both the Saints (their greatness under Jim Finks and Mickey Loomis but no one else) and Hornets. I say this because a bad GM can still bring in great talent, but then they over-pay or have bad chemistry or are mis-utilized.

kempleton
kempleton

Why do you call it the "playoff bandwagon"? Every team in the NBA is "supposed to" fight for a playoff spot. That's the purpose of this game. That's the first goal every season towards the ultimate desire of winning it all. Some teams unfortunately cannot fight for a playoff spot no matter how hard they play (like the 2010-2011 Cavs team). So, they set another goal instead: "becoming a playoff team in the future by getting talented young players from the draft" and pursue what we call "tanking". But, as long as OUR team can do it, and fight for it, I want to see us in the playoffs. Nobody can say that we will be in the playoffs. We can hope to be in the playoffs. No bandwagon, a simple desire. My expectations were higher than Joe's first 2 attempts. This is a shorter season and is prone to surprises. But I was expecting Hornets to fight for the 7th or 8th seed in the West on the day we made the Clippers trade and I am still behind that expectation. I hope our team will surprise us and finish it even higher. It is a difficult task but why not? We can say this: The Hornets will fight for the playoffs. That's the spirit and I love that spirit. This team will fight hard to accomplish the best they can. I thank Monty Williams for bringing that attitude to this team. GEAUX HORNETS!

cro_CP3
cro_CP3

I hate to jump on the playoff bandwagon, but I agree with you...

Blattman
Blattman

About the owner's issue, Stern gave an interesting interview during the tip-off and said about the hornets : "We are talking to several interested buyers and we expect to complete a sale in the first half of 2012. The timing is a little rough, because there are certain commitments that the state is in the process of making to us on a longer-term basis so that we will execute a longer lease. We hope to announce a final buyer in the next 60 days. It will be good for New Orleans. It will be good for the NBA." There was plenty of topic in this interview (http://www.hoopsworld.com/oklahoma-city-the-little-engine-that-could%E2%80%9D), I think that's why nobody talk about it but sounds good for me. About the playoff, it still seem a bit early for me, can't overlook that Cleveland got a good start last year and they finish pretty bad. Right now, rival staffs work with 2 preseason film to prepare their team, in 5-10 games they'll have a decent picture of what to expect from our team and it will be the real test for the hornets.

nikkoewan
nikkoewan

agreed. :) too early to jump on the playoff bandwagon. Just be happy we're at 2-0 and then we'll see from there. Take it one game at a time, and hope for the best but expect the worst.

JNR
JNR

Love the enthusiasm, Joe! I'm still trying to keep my expectations low. But I am really happy about the way we've played last night. I can't wait to see how we develop. And, just like you, I'm starting to love what Greivis brings. I want a Greivis jersey!