The Hornets have certainly turned it around. Last season, the team won 39 and lost 43 finishing 28 games out of first-place and missing the playoffs. Now at the All Star Break, the Hornets are 36 and 15, sitting on top of the Southwest Conference and vying for top spot in the West.
The two major reasons for this turnaround are Chris Paul, the teamâ€™s point guard, and the three guys in the frontcourt. Paul has made major strides this season, upping his shooting percentage by 4% and his foul shooting by 5%. Averaging 20.5 PPG, 10.9 RPG and 2.6 SPG, he could become the first player since Tim Hardaway in 1991- 1992 to average at least 20 points, 10 rebounds and 3 steals per game. Heâ€™s also become a solid on-court and off-court leader.
In the frontcourt, veteran small forward Peja Stojakovic is having his best season in three years. Heâ€™s knocking down threes at a rate of 48% and his foul shooting is at 93%. Additionally, the teamâ€™s two big menâ€”center Tyson Chandler and power forward David Westâ€”have been top point producers, rebounders and defenders.
Chandler, a 7-foot, 1-inch big man, is taking down 12.5 RPG and hitting for 12.1 PPG. Heâ€™s averaging 1.0 blocks per contest. Power forward West averages 9.2 RPG, while knocking down 19.8 PPG and blocking an average of 1.4 shots.
The veterans are playing well and the young guys are coming into their own. One major question involves the benchâ€”is there enough depth? At power forward and shooting guard, the answer is â€œno.â€? Morris Peterson, the teamâ€™s starting shooting guard, is an average producer. Also, Peterson has been injured of late.
The Hornets will be in the post season. How competitive they will be will depend upon their health and some more consistent output from the shooting position.