Hornets Beat: Five Games Down

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Published: January 3, 2012

The Hornets247 krewe gives our take on the season through five games.

After beating down the Celtics, the Hornets have lost three straight

1. What storyline most interests you so far?

Jason Calmes: The most interesting thing to me is Aminu. We don’t even really seem to be able to formulate questions about him. With Gordon, it’s about his health and contract. With Jack, it’s about talent and leadership. With Ariza, there is no question. Aminu is pure “Hmmm.” Find questions is much more interesting than finding answers.

Michael McNamara: Honestly, it is the Timberwolves. When we look back five years from now, the most important thing about this season will be the two draft picks that we end up with and what we do with them. History shows that a top 5 pick is much more likely to result in a franchise player than a pick anywhere else in the lottery. It is imperative that the Hornets have one in June.

Chris Trew: How far the “I’m In” campaign will take the franchise locally. It’s been a big hit so far but how long will it last? Will we see new local celebrities be “In”? Will the new season tickets holders continue to support the team if we’re no good? Are promises of a bright future enough to get new people into the Arena?

Jake Madison: Has the front office work in the offseason made the Hornets financially viable in New Orleans? 10,000 season tickets sold, a huge increase in sponsorship revenue and a new CBA with more revenue sharing. Hopefully all of these positives persuade a local group to purchase the team and remain committed to New Orleans.

Joe Gerrity: At this point I’m still wondering how Gordon in Creole Blue is going to pan out, both on and off the court. Does he take an extension for less than the max? Does he sign the extension at all?

2. What has surprised you most so far this season?

Jason: Vasquez. He’s like one of those presents you get to open on Christmas Eve just to shut you up that actually turns out to be more satisfying than the ones you had your fingers crossed for since they started stocking egg nog at Rouse’s.

Michael: Chris Kaman, because frankly I thought he was better than this. I believed that, when healthy, he was a quasi All-Star center and could get us some quality assets come March if he didn’t get injured. But he has been extremely inefficient on offense and when he and Jason Smith are on the court together they simply can’t grab a rebound.

Chris: A tie between the Chris Paul “Thank You New Orleans” billboard (I-10 West between Slidell and New Orleans right next to the Arena) and nobody talking about the Chris Paul billboard. It’s electronic so maybe everyone who posts about the Hornets happens to keep missing it. I think it’s a classy move.

Jake: Honestly, not much. So far this season has been pretty much what I expected. The offense has struggled with Gordon hurt while the defense has been pretty solid. But since I don’t want to cop out with that answer, how about the Timberwolves winning two straight games? Come on, Minnesota! Be terrible! Please?

Joe: Might sound odd, but Gordon missing four of the team’s first five games with a bruised knee really surprised me considering he played through it the day of. Hornets fans really found out the hard way that he’s not made of titanium.

3. Who’s your favorite new guy to watch?

Jason: Vasquez. I disagree with several of his choices each game . . . such as splitting defenders, the putting up a running shot . . . and it works. It’s not like it just falls; it works. He’s got great energy, too. When in Caracas, do as the Caraquenos do . . . What do you mean we’re not in Caracas?

Michael: I say Vasquez as well. I would probably say Gordon if I actually got to see him play, but a knee bruise has kept him out since his game winner. Vasquez is a Ferrari playing with a bunch of hybrid’s right now, as his energy and pace are unmatched by anyone on this team. If this team is going to be bad regardless, why not give Vasquez the keys and give us a team that is fun to watch?

Chris: I really want to make it three in a row for Vasquez but I’m going to say Squeaky Johnson. I know he doesn’t play much but the Hive really gets behind him and he’s certainly working very hard out there. Also I’m completely irrational and think everyone from New Orleans should play on New Orleans teams. Granger 2013!

Jake: I’m with Chris on this: Squeaky Johnson. His story is just too good. He’s a New Orleanian who’s spent the majority of career in the D-League. Now he gets a chance in the NBA and it’s with his hometown team. How can you not be excited for him? Plus, his hair is awesome.

Joe: I’m eagerly anticipating watching Gordon do his thing more often, but among those who have played more than one game, I’ll go with Kaman. I like his energy, and honestly I just haven’t seen a full-sized Hornets big man in years who can score both around the basket and from 17 feet. When he gets on the right page defensively I’ll be even more excited to see what he brings to the table.

4. How would you feel about the Hornets making a play for DeMarcus Cousins?

Jason: I don’t know if Monty will want him, but I trust his judgment either way. Getting some cost-effective talent is good provided the coaches and vets can hold this team together. Emeka has been playing well at the same position, is a stable vet, and the salary mismatch does not matter in this one-for-one swap. Build around that.

Michael: Cousins, Oden, somebody. Big men don’t grow on trees, and there are only two future All-Star big men in the upcoming draft (likely to go No.1 and No.2), so either the Hornets are going to have to tank and get lucky with ping pong balls or they are going to have to take their chances on a big with issues. Perhaps the Kings will take Aminu for Cousins, or they will take Okafor and whichever of our two picks is worse for Cousins and Francisco Garcia. Either way, Monty and Dell have to believe in themselves enough to turn this guy around so that he can give the Hornets the big man that they are unlikely to get anywhere else.

Chris: It’s a risk worth taking as long as we don’t sacrifice too much. Aminu? Yes. Carl Landry? Sure. Remember Zach Randolph? Lamar Odom? I’m pro Cousins joining the family.

Jake: I could go either way on this. There is no denying his talent but he is absolutely bananas which scares me. In a small market you have to take risks, though, and the reward on Cousins could be very big. And, as Michael said, there isn’t another big man like him available.

Joe: Love it. One way to score big in the NBA is to take another team’s problem. While Cousins may be a bit of a headcase so far, it mostly seems to be from the ball not being in his hands enough. He would get all the touches he could handle down low in New Orleans. If Monty could get him on board defensively, too, he could be a very special player in a few years to come.

5. Be honest– How often do you think about Chris Paul?

Jason: Every couple of days. I was exhausted by the constant blathering on and hand-wringing, so my disposition sways me toward enjoying the silence. I’ve also placed a one month moratorium on really thinking about him . . . this is talking about thinking about him . . . so that helps, but I think he deserves at least one standing ovation from fans in the Arena.

Michael: Not as much as I thought I would honestly. He was great, but this team had no future with him and a collection of poor assets. And he was so good that they were never going to get the draft pick that could turn the franchise around either. The Clippers will become my favorite team once the playoffs start, but as for right now all I really think about is Hornets basketball (oh and the T’Wolves of course).

Chris: More than I think about David West which is hardly ever. Less than I think about the Hornets. Way less than I think about the 2012 draft. But enough that I mentioned the billboard earlier.

Jake: Only when I watch the Clippers play. He’s not a Hornet anymore and I prefer to focus on current roster. However, the Clippers are just too entertaining so I find myself watching them regularly. Still very, very strange seeing him in another uniform.

Joe: Nine times out of ten that I think about him it’s because someone else brought him up. The other time I feel guilty about it. When I look at the Clippers box score I feel dirty.

10 comments
Nithenz
Nithenz

From AP: A person familiar with the deal says Philadelphia, Memphis and New Orleans have agreed on a multi-player trade. The 76ers are sending Marreese Speights to Memphis, the Grizzlies will move Xavier Henry to New Orleans and the Grizzlies and Hornets each will send a second-round draft pick to Philadelphia, the person told The Associated Press Wednesday on condition of anonymity because the deal had not been announced. I remember a lot of buzz here regarding Henry in last year draft. Heard the same about Aminu... maybe they will trade for everyone this year...

Andrew Denenea
Andrew Denenea

How awesome would it be if Chris Paul came back in free agency next year(2013) with the current roster?

George
George

Right now, I think Hornets will land around the 8th pick in the draft (Washington, New Jersey, Charlotte, Detroit, Toronto, Sacramento, Golden State all finishing lower), and the Timberwolves pick being around 12-14 (hoping Kevin Love or Rubio gets injured). From current mock draft projections, we could pick up two of the following players: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Terrence Jones, Austin Rivers, Thomas Robinson, John Henson, Quincy Miller. I would trade both those picks for a shot at Drummond.

Jacob
Jacob

Marco is killing the hornet and Vasquez isn't getting enough minutes to show we he can do because he is a pass first point guard who can drive to the hoop and create shots for others.

Rory
Rory

Anyone have a pic of that CP billboard?

BRballboy
BRballboy

I agree about a top 5 pick being imperative. What can we do to make sure? The competition is fierce.Here's a couple of thougts: 1. Start Belli every game - Gordon traded, injured, disgruntled, etc. 2. Trade Okafor for any pick(s). Replaced by Kaman. 3. Have Kaman last as long as usual. Replaced by Ayon. 4. Start Vasquez. Jack traded, sulking, whatever. 5. Start Aminu due to lingering Ariza injury or trade.

JT's Hoops Blog
JT's Hoops Blog

I think the Hornets should start Vasquez over Jack at the point as he has so much upside. I think you guys are a little hard on Kaman, however. He's coming of the bench and is not getting the touches that he is used to.

Brandon
Brandon

Good stuff. What surprises me is that ariza and belli look lost at times on the offensive end. I do want to see the dynamic of Gordon and Jack on the floor together. We need baskets and we need to limit 4th quarter turnovers

simon
simon

I'd be happy with any one of those guys other than maybe terrence jones. There's also a chance that we get lucky with other teams not picking as expected and someone dropping out of the top 5.. I could see Sullinger or Perry jones dropping down to 6/7.. The only problem with trading a good player for a pick (i.e mek or gordon) to a team in need would be the teams receiving them would be markedly better after the trade. Does anyone know how many games there are after the trade deadline?

nikkoewan
nikkoewan

i think we finish lower than Golden State and Sacramento just because they have the young legs to compete in this super sprint of a 66 game season, while we are buoyed by veterans who are close or at 30+ years old. If that's the case, we get the 6th pick. agree with the Wolves pick somewhere between 12-14. I'd find a way to get two top 8 picks(maybe trade Aminu and the Wolves pick? Or Okafor to GS with Wolves pick?). That way, we get MKG(Who I really think/hope we'll get as he's such a fit for Monty's defensive and blue collared approach) and Henson.