ESPN Experts have Hornets as 14th Best

Published: August 25, 2010’s John Hollinger and ESPN the Magazine’s Chris Broussard are doing projections and previews for all 30 NBA teams and have ranked the Hornets as the 14th best.

Here is the Hornets relevant portion of the predictions:

14. New Orleans Hornets

The More Things Change: First and foremost, Chris Paul, who missed 37 games because of injury last season, is back, though he’s not necessarily happy about returning to New Orleans. The Hornets’ point guard wants to play for a contender, and new GM Dell Demps, along with new head coach Monty Williams, have tried to make moves to appease their superstar. They traded away his backup, Darren Collison, to bring in Trevor Ariza and sent Julian Wright to Toronto for Marco Belinelli. Both Ariza and Belinelli are young and full of potential. The hope is that with Paul getting them open looks, they’ll finally tap their upside with the Hornets.

The More They Stay the Same: If Marcus Thornton can improve on his pleasantly surprising rookie year, in which he averaged nearly 20 points over the last three months of the season, the Hornets could have their best backcourt in recent memory. That would make the already-solid big-man tandem of Emeka Okafor and David West that much better, and with Ariza aboard, Peja Stojakovic can perhaps fill the role of sniper off the bench. Basketball-wise, it doesn’t look as bad as many might think. But off the court, it’s a mess, as the ownership transfer from George Shinn to Gary Chouest continues to hit stumbling blocks. Closure for this club won’t come until Chouest is running the team.”

A few other notes-

  • Although it’s better than league average, there are still 8 teams expected to be ahead than the Bees out west, which would leave them on the outside looking in come playoff time.
  • Marcus Thornton is projected to lead the team in points per minute.
  • Ariza is projected to average 15.2 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 3.9 assists per 40 minutes
  • Louis Amundson is expected to make a decision this week between the Pacers, Warriors and Hornets. “We’re getting close to doing something,” his agent, Mark Bartelstein, said. “I think we’ll get something done with Louis this week.”
  • Rondo is off the Olympic team. Take that for what it is.

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