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Tag:Preseason Primers
Posted on: September 23, 2010 2:42 pm
Edited on: September 23, 2010 2:43 pm
 

Preseason Primers: Warriors

Posted by Royce Young

The Warriors will be under new leadership once the season starts, but it's going to be the same group running training camp. This is a new-look team with a number of fresh faces, but the core backcourt remains and looks to grow another year together. Can the Warriors begin a climb back to respectibility? It'll all start in training camp for them and it'll also require a number of issue to get sorted out.

Training camp site: Oakland, CA

Training camp starts: Sept. 28

Key additions: Dorell Wright (free agent), David Lee (sign and trade), Jeremy Lin (draft), Ekpe Udoh (draft), Louis Amundson (free agent), Rodney Carney (free agent)

Key subtractions: Anthony Randolph (trade), C.J. Watson (free agent), Corey Maggette (trade), Anthony Morrow (free agent)

Likely starting lineup: Stephen Curry, PG; Monta Ellis, SG; Dorell Wright, SF; David Lee, PF; Andris Biedrins, C

Player to watch: Jeremy Lin. For whatever reason, Lin has already become a cult basketball star. He's the Harvard grad who blew people away with his summer league fearlessness and ability. He got a guaranteed contract from the Warriors and is already becoming one of the faces of the team and probably the fan favorite. Everyone has him dubbed a sleeper and a ready-made scorer that's going to make an impact.

Did I mention he hasn't played a game yet? While Lin was impressive during the summer, he's still an unknown. Right now he's third on the depth chart behind Charlie Bell for backup point guard duties, so he's got to work to earn time on the floor as well.

Chemistry quiz: The Curry-Ellis experiment enters year two, with both guys desperate to have the ball in their hands. In the Don Nelson system, shots are there for pretty much anyone who's willing to take them, but a constant battle over who controls the ball is something the Warriors hope to avoid. It can upset not just on-court chemistry, but also off-court unity as well.

The real chemistry question is what's happening upstairs. Once ownership of the team is transferred, will the Warriors still be under the same direction of Nelson, or will they be scrambling to make a switch to Keith Smart (or someone else) right before the season?

Camp battles: Who's backing up David Lee at power forward? Ekpe Udoh was hurt this summer with a wrist injury, but is he ready to find rotation time in front of Brandan Wright? Wright has always seemed to find himself in Nelson's dog house, but with Udoh's setback, Wright may get his chances.

Injury issues:
David Lee hurt his hand during Team USA's training camp but is supposed to be healthy for the Warriors camp.

Biggest strength: Speed. Everyone knows the Warriors can score. Their points per game is often a bit deceiving because in terms of offensive efficiency, they're typically in the middle to lower half of the league. But this Warrior team has a bunch of skill around the ball. Curry is a gifted passer and shooter. Ellis goes end to end in a blur. David Lee runs the floor exceptionally well for a big man. And there are hyper-athletic guys waiting on the pine like Udoh, Wright and Lou Amundson.

Glaring weakness: Should I just say "defense" and leave it at that. Or do I really need to explain why the Warriors are bad defensively and therefore, that's a weakness? Let's just leave it at that.
Posted on: September 23, 2010 12:13 pm
Edited on: September 23, 2010 12:15 pm
 

Preseason Primers: Clippers

Posted by Royce Young

Coming in to last season, there were higher hopes than usual for the Clippers. Top pick Blake Griffin was on the squad and Baron Davis had supposedly gotten in shape and was eager to play. But then Griffin was injured, missed the whole year and Davis stopped caring in January. But this year, they get a do-over. They're next in our Preseason Primer series.

Training camp site:
Los Angeles, CA

Training camp starts: Sept. 28

Key additions: Blake Griffin (back from injury), Ryan Gomes (free agent), Al Farouq-Aminu (draft)

Key subtractions: Steve Blake (free agent), Travis Outlaw (free agent), Drew Gooden (free agent), Brian Skinner (just kidding)

Likely starting lineup: Baron Davis, PG; Eric Gordon, SG; Ryan Gomes, SF; Blake Griffin, PF; Chris Kaman, C

Player to watch: Blake Griffin. Remember him? Yeah, this guy? Supposedly, he's back to his old, dunk-on-your-face self. With a full season already under his belt in which he didn't play, you can bet he's hungry. Griffin is a tremendous talent that's been compared to players like Karl Malone and Carlos Boozer. He's going to be ready and he's going to be a monster.

Injury watch: Well, I guess this is going to be pretty much the same as "Player to watch."

Camp battles: The Clippers' roster is pretty close to completely set, but if there's one interesting battle to watch it's at small forward. The Clips took Al Farouq-Aminu in the lottery and plan for him to be a small forward scorer. They also signed Ryan Gomes in the offseason. Aminu could potentially beat out Gomes for the starting spot, especially because the Clippers have an eye toward the future right now. More than likely Gomes has the job, but if you're looking for a position competition to watch, that's the one.

Biggest strength: Starting five. On paper, as Rodney Stuckey would say, it doesn't look that bad. Baron Davis, Eric Gordon (who was fantastic in Turkey), Gomes/Aminu, Griffin and All-Star Chris Kaman. That's a pretty quality unit right there. They probably lack that go-to scorer, but there's enough divvied up among Davis, Kaman, Gordon and Griffin that the Clips should be able to put the ball in the basket.

Glaring weakness: Defense, experience and depth. Last season, the Clippers ranked near the bottom of the league in defensive efficiency (22nd). (They actually ranked lower in offensive efficiency, but I'm banking on that improving with Griffin.) Baron Davis has never been a great defender and Kaman is a score-first center.

They're extremely young with Griffin, Gordon, Aminu, backup point guard Eric Bledsoe and DeAndre Jordan. So this group is youthful.

As for depth, DeAndre Jordan is their backup 5 at this moment. So yeah, that's not good. And there's no one behind him. If Kaman gets in foul trouble of has an injury, DeAndre Jordan is seeing big time minutes. Again, not good.
Posted on: September 22, 2010 3:43 pm
 

Preseason Primers: Timberwolves

Posted by Royce Young

Minnesota continues to be an odd place of transition. No one really knows what's going on in the front office and it doesn't really seem like anyone inside the fanbase really cares at this point. While the outside world criticizes David Kahn, Wolves fans remain faithful. They're already said they aren't contenders, but can they at least be decent? Not likely.


Training camp site: Mankato, MN

Training camp starts: Sept. 25

Key additions: Wesley Johnson (draft), Michael Beasley (trade), Luke Ridnour (free agent), Martell Webster (trade)

Key subtractions: Ramon Sessions (trade), Al Jefferson (trade), Ryan Gomes (free agent)

Likely starting lineup: Jonny Flynn, PG; Wesley Johnson, SG; Corey Brewer, SF; Kevin Love, PF; Darko Milicic, C

Player to watch: Michael Beasley. Supposedly, Beasley has had a basketball rebirth. David Kahn said Beasley is off smoking pot and has regained focus in Minnesota. Everyone knows Beasley has serious basketball ability. He was one of the most dominant college freshmen ever. But it hasn't translated yet. With a new situation and a new view on basketball, maybe he starts to find his way.

KAAAAAAAAHN?: KAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHN!!!

Camp battles: Kevin Love has quietly been a little miffed with his role in Minnesota saying he felt more valuable to Team USA than to the Wolves. Right now, it's looking like he'll start. But Michael Beasley could push him for the spot.

Biggest strength: Transparency and honesty! Just kidding. But seriously, they've already pretty much admitted they're going to stink, so why should anyone else think different. The one thing the Wolves might do well is run the floor. They brought in Luke Ridnour to lead that charge and there's a good amount of athleticism on the wings in Corey Brewer, Wes Johnson and Beasley to get out in transition.

Glaring weakness: Scoring. Who puts the ball in the basket for the Wolves? Corey Brewer has shown flashes of being able to score, but on a mediocre team he would be the third or fourth option. And in Minny you're telling me he's the primary? Oh boy.

Jonny Flynn can create and score a little, same goes for Ridnour, Wayne Ellington can shoot, Martell Webster can put it in the basket some and we don't really know about Wesley Johnson. For the most part, it's a cast of average to below average scorers at best, so finding points could be difficult for the Wolves.
Posted on: September 22, 2010 3:32 pm
Edited on: September 22, 2010 5:12 pm
 

Preseason Primers: Detroit Pistons

Posted by Matt Moore

Things could have gone worse for the Pistons last year. It would have taken an outbreak of the bubonic plague or an appearance from classic Ron Artest, but things could have gone worse. They had horrific injury issues, and when healthy, their big free agents struck far below their goals. The team is still seemingly in a transition period, as everyone waits for Rip Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince, or both to get moved, ending the 2004 starters once and for all. But in the meantime, John Kuester's got to get this team back on track. They have way too high a payroll in this economy to have performed as they did. If things don't turn around quickly, the situation could get hot all over in Detroit. With that, we turn to our Preseason Primer on the Pistons. 

Training camp site:  Detroit, MI

Training camp starts:  Sept. 27 

Key additions:  Tracy McGrady (free agency)

Key subtractions:  Kwame Brown (free agency), Greg Monroe (draft)

Likely starting lineup:   Rodney Stuckey (PG), Rip Hamilton (SG), Tayshaun Prince (SF), Charlie Villanueva (PF), Ben Wallace (C)

Player to watch:
 Ben Gordon. Gordon was the premier free agent for the Pistons as they tried to reconfigure their team. Instead, he was pretty bad last year, when injuries didn't keep him off the floor. His shot wasn't there. And Ben Gordon without a shot is like a bike without wheels. It's shiny, but it also doesn't actually do anything. He's not a tremendous defender, he's bad when it comes to creating opportunities for his teammates, and you're banking on him being a volume shooter. So if he's shooting poorly (his eFG%-factoring field goal percentage with threes factored- plummeted to 47% from 52% the prior year), he's not giving you much. He's pledged to be more aggressive this season, and if he bounces back, the Pistons will too... a little bit. Gordon needs to hit camp running, get the starting job, and become the premier talent the Pistons are paying him to be.

Chemistry quiz:
 It's either an egg waiting to be hatched, or a time bomb set to go off. Rip Hamilton hasn't been happy the last few years, and he and Tayshaun Prince, the last remaining members of the '04 championship team, have been on the trade block for years now. That situation could sour quickly if Dumars gets involved in late-stage discussions (to the point where one or both of the two are notified to start packing) and it falls apart. From there? There's no real sense of how these guys will do together, because the main cogs haven't been together that long. Stuckey's been around for years, but Will Bynum is still getting comfortable along with Gordon and Villanueva. Oh, Villanueva. That's a whole other story.

Injury watch:
 The entire team. Every single one of them. Only four players played more than 70 games last season. That team needs healing potion more than your level 78 mage.

Camp battles:
 The easy out here is shooting guard as Ben Gordon tries for 400th time in his career to win a starting spot while Rip Hamilton keeps his death grip. But given the odds that both of them will be healthy for the duration of camp, this one's hard to classify as a battle, especially with how willing Gordon is to accept a sixth man award role. The real battle is likely to be at power forward, where Jason Maxiell is no longer the kiddo and could make a legitimate push for the starting power forward slot if Charlie Villanueva doesn't show the requisite toughness for Kuester. And while Greg Monroe probably won't win it, his raw ability may put him into a fight with 84-year-old veteran Ben Wallace. All of this is before the Pistons' biggest dilemma. Dynamic Will Bynum who can be inefficient and force things at times, or Rodney Stuckey, who can simply vanish now and then. Pretty much Prince is the only one locked in.

Biggest strength:
 They can't be as bad as last year? The team has scorers, if they're healthy. If they can find a system that works to their strengths, they can put points up on the board. Villanueva is versatile and athletic, Gordon can detonate at any time, Monroe is going to be a great pick, and the team can attack the rim relentlessly... again, when healthy.

Glaring weakness:
 Defense. Clap clap. Defense. The Pistons were the fifth worst team in defensive efficiency last year. Some of that is injury related, but a large part of it is that Dumars gambled on heavy offense free agents subscribing to the system, and that just didn't happen. Ben Wallace was downright inspiring last year, but he's just got too many miles on him. This team is inconsistent, and seems to have problems with differing agendas. Camp needs to gel them on the defensive end.
Posted on: September 22, 2010 11:24 am
Edited on: September 22, 2010 3:26 pm
 

Preseason Primer: Charlotte Bobcats

Posted by Matt Moore

Charlotte lost its starting point guard and its starting center, and didn't really add any players of huge significance.So what's going to get them through this year? Larry Brown and defense, the formula proven to work. The big thing to watch with the Cats this season is if they make another trade. Larry Brown has opted for a trade to his roster every year in a big way, and despite initial criticisms, the deals have been huge successes for the most part. We continue our Preseason Primers with a stop at the Cats. 

Training camp site:
  UNC-Wilmington

Training camp starts:  Sept. 28 

Key additions:  Shaun Livingston (free agency), Matt Carroll (trade), Eduardo Najera (trade), Dominic McGuire (free agency), Kwame Brown (free agency)

Key subtractions:  Raymond Felton (free agency), Tyson Chandler (trade), Alexis Ajinca (trade), Theo Ratliff (free agency)

Likely starting lineup:  D.J. Augustin (PG), Stephen Jackson (SG), Gerald Wallace (SF), Boris Diaw (Boris Diaw position), Nazr Mohammed (C)


Player to watch:
 Tyrus Thomas. Thomas is at yet another "time to show what he can do" moment (seemingly the ninth of his career). With the new contract the Bobcats rewarded himself with, he's no longer the young'n working on becoming legit. He's got to actually develop and identity. He doesn't need to be Josh Smith with his overall athletic dynamism or a premier lockdown defender. But he's got to develop a set role on the floor that translates with his abilities. And stop shooting that mid-range jumper! But if he's able to effectively translate that athleticism he still has into production, consistently , it'll go a long way to putting him in a higher tier among NBA forwards. Time for Larry Brown to work his Magic again.

Chemistry quiz:
It's a delicate act the Cats have put together. Gerald Wallace is the strong, mostly silent type. Captain Jack is very much not. Tyrus Thomas is surly and brash. D.J. Augustin is well-natured but has bore the brunt of Larry Brown's particular attitude towards young point guards. The Cats have a fascinating cast of characters, and that's before you factor the possibility of Antoine Walker making it to camp. The Cats though don't really have many chemistry quirks. They have the alpha dog in Stephen Jackson, a franchise mainstay leader in Gerald Wallace, and a roster that understands it has to buy what Larry Brown's selling or they'll never see the light of day.

Injury watch:
 The Bobcats loaded up on centers last year, only to watch all of them wind up injured and missing time. Gerald Wallace bounced back from a disastrous 2009-2010 season that featured a collapsed lung and missed only six games last season. Boris Diaw has, ahem, conditioning issues. And, oh, yeah, their backup point guard suffered one of the most devastating knee injuries in recent NBA history. So they've got a number of things to keep a trainer's eye on.

Camp battles:
 Point guard is going to be a messy, messy affair without Raymond Felton around. D.J. Augustin has been the player the Cats had hoped would overtake Felton for years, and he's never gotten there. Now he's got no real choice and if he doesn't get it together this year their clock may run out on him. Shaun Livingston has a great opportunity to really push for a starting gig, but his body hasn't been the same since the injury. 

Power forward's another interesting spot. Diaw has the best skill set, but Tyrus Thomas has the new contract and the potential. That one could get messy as Thomas has become more authoritative this summer about his career. He's no longer unsure of himself now that he's out of Chicago.

Biggest strength:
 Defense, plain and simple. The Cats were best in defensive efficiency last season , and that's how they made the playoffs. The Cats managed to work effectively in both man situations and man-help. They communicate well, have athletic players all over the floor, and gun it 100% of effort, the most important element. The want-to is there and that's how they win games. Losing Raymond Felton will do some damage in that regard, as will their question marks at center. But they have enough talent, and most importantly, they have Larry Brown at the helm.

Glaring weakness:
 Talent. The Bobcats brought in an offensive weapon to save their putrid scoring last year in Stephen Jackson, but he's no spring chicken. Gerald Wallace is a tremendous talent, but not great at creating his own shot. And other than that, the Cats don't have a single consistent offensive weapon, and they are far from having a superstar. They've elected to build through trades, and that means improving value each time, but also watering down the talent level. Unless Gerald Henderson makes a huge leap, the Cats won't change much in that regard this season.
Posted on: September 21, 2010 3:43 pm
Edited on: September 21, 2010 3:43 pm
 

Preseason Primers: Wizards

Posted by Royce Young

There will be an eye on Washington this season for one main reason: John Wall. The athletic, gifted point guard will be running the show for a rebuilding Wizards squad and the NBA world will be watching his development. But how does he fit in with Gilbert Arenas? The Wizards' camp will be more interesting than most in terms of sorting out issues. Going in, nothing is really set in stone, other than Wall will definitely get his minutes.

Training camp site: Fairfax, VA

Training camp starts: Begins with "Midnight Madness" Sept. 28 

Key additions: John Wall (draft), Kirk Hinrich (trade), Trevor Booker (draft), Yi Jianlian (trade), Hamady N'Diaye (draft), Hilton Armstrong (free agent), Kevin Seraphin (draft)

Key subtractions: Randy Foye (free agent), Mike Miller (free agent), Shaun Livingston (free agent)

Likely starting lineup: John Wall, PG; Gilbert Arenas, SG; Josh Howard, SF; Andray Blatche, PF; JaVale McGee, C

Player to watch: Gilbert Arenas. I'm going against the grain on this and saying Arenas, but his situation is far more interesting than top pick John Wall's. Arenas has played point guard his entire career and as of right now, the Wizards intend to move him to shooting guard. Gilbert Arenas, shooting guard. Write your own jokes here, people.

Chemistry quiz: By drafting Wall, the Wizards basically told former franchise players Arenas that he's both expendable and no longer the face of the team. How does Arenas, a player looks for his own no matter what position he's playing, handle this? This Wizards definitely have some personality with Andray Blatche, JaVale McGee, Arenas and Josh Howard. How they get along is probably the biggest question of the season for Washington.

Injury watch: Howard is coming off a major injury that ended his season early last year. He's not part of Washington's long-term plans, but if he's not healthy, this team is thin on both scoring ability and defensive-minded players.

Camp battles: The starting point guard position is Wall's, no doubt. But steady guard Kirk Hinrich will definitely make a push for legit minutes. Add in Nick Young trying to beat out Arenas for the starting 2, Al Thornton trying to win the small forward spot over Josh Howard and Yi Jianlian trying to move ahead of Blatche on the depth chart and you should see a competitive camp for the Wiz.

Biggest strength: Raw talent. The Wizards have some talented youth. Wall, Jianlian, Blatche, McGee and Thornton and Trevor Booker is a group of young guys that can potentially be serious impact players. But they're raw. They're inexperienced. They haven't tasted winning. And they may not know how to play together. But in terms of basketball ability, Washington certainly has a good amount.

Glaring weakness: Experience, chemistry and depth. So there was that gun thing last year. Then of course Andray Blatche might say who knows what. And JaVale McGee might do who knows what. To guess that the Wizards might be dysfunctional this season wouldn't be a long shot.
Posted on: September 20, 2010 9:04 pm
Edited on: September 21, 2010 10:06 am
 

Preseason Primer: Portland Trail Blazers

Portland loathes expectations. Expected to compete for the West title? Down in a burning wreckage of knee bones and perimeter shooting. Unable to hold on to the playoffs? Say hi to a massive winning streak to glide into the playoffs. They are never predictable, that's for certain. As we continue our Preseason Primers , we take a look at the noble hope of the Northwest, and if this is finally the season when things don't go wrong for the Blazers.

Portland Trailblazers

Training camp site: Portland, OR

Training camp starts:   Sept. 28 

Key additions:  Wesley  Matthews (free agent)

Key subtractions:   Juwan Howard (free agent), Martell Webster (trade), Luke Babbitt, Armon Johnson (free agent)

Likely starting lineup: Andre Miller, PG; Brandon Roy, SG; Nicolas Batum, SF, LaMarcus Aldridge, PF, Marcus Camby, C 

Player to watch:   Greg Oden. Guy's gotta get healthy sometime, right? Oden has been and remains the missing piece of the puzzle for the Blazers, even with the addition of Marcus Camby. If Oden can reach a significant portion of his massive untapped potential, he could be a difference maker for the Blazers, completing the team that's been constructed over the past five years. It's unknown if Oden will even be available for camp, or how much he'll be participating. But even that says something. Oden's got to bounce back hard, and get back to where he showed flashes last year prior to the injury. That's the only way the Blazers can make the jump they need to this year. 

Chemistry quiz:   Who's the ticking time bomb? That's the question, and it's multiple choice, with several "A and B and C" type choices. Last year, Andre Miller and Nat McMillan blew up at one another during a low point. The two reconciled things and seem to be on better ground, but there's been consistent trade chatter involving Miller since he was signed as a marquee free agent in 2009. And that's just the start! Travis Outlaw and Steve Blake, two longtime Blazers were traded last year, along with Martell Webster before this year's draft. And, oh, yeah, Rudy Fernandez is involved in a messy, gross situation where he's demanding a trade and talking about sitting out the next season , even after rejecting a trade to New Orleans. This is all before we get into LaMarcus Aldridge's longterm problems with the club, and the attention showered on Greg Oden constantly. That said, McMillan has done a tremendous job keeping the team together and helped lead them to the playoffs last year. If he can keep them together this year, it'll be another award-worthy performance.

Injury watch:   Ha. Ha ha ha. Hahahahahaha. Sorry. That's mean.

Well, let's see. Brandon Roy struggled with an ankle towards the end of last year, but that should be fine. Greg Oden is recovering from a broken patella, slowly. Joel Przybilla also broke his patella and tore ligaments, then reinjued it in the shower. Marcus Camby is no spring chicken. This team is one bad turn, a helicopter and a few tents from becoming a M*A*S*H* unit. If any team is worthy of karmic bonuses resulting in a clean bill of health this year, it's Portland.

Camp battles:   Center's going to be a big one throughout the year, but with Oden not near 100% by any stretch of the imagination, Camby has it on lockdown. Nicolas Batum continues to be one of the better developing small forwards in the league, and his overall play should keep him locked in above the rookie Babbitt. An interesting one? Point guard. Miller was terrific at points last year for the Blazers, but when he wasn't, Jerryd Bayless was increasingly better. Bayless is a fierce competitor. If he were to make a significant jump, that one could get ugly really quick.

Biggest strength:   Depth and Brandon Roy. That's the formula, which is why the injuries const them so much last year. Additionally, Brandon Roy's going to have to climb back out of the pool and onto the pavement of great players after a downturn last season. The Blazers absolutely must have Roy as a top ten player in the league if they're going to compete for the Western Conference Finals, along with all the other things they need to happen. But Roy has shown he can do it, and they still have considerable depth, arguably more, with Matthews to give Roy a breather, and young talent mixed in with the vets.

Glaring weakness:   You mean, besides spending more times on their backs than Luke Walton? (You thought I was going for a sex joke there, didn't you?) The team's gotta stay healthy, which isn't something they can avoid, outside of moving to Phoenix and hiring their training staff. On the floor, the offense can stagnate considerably when Roy's not on the floor outside of the handful of nights where Miller goes nova. The other players need to develop into go-to scorers, at least a few. LaMarcus Aldridge in particular has had low expectations which he's exceeded yet not received credit for the last few years, but now he's going to have to be a big-time power forward for the Blazers. If he doesn't show he can get to the next level, he may find himself on the block as the Blazers look for the missing piece.

Posted on: September 20, 2010 4:14 pm
Edited on: September 20, 2010 4:15 pm
 

Preseason Primers: Hornets

Posted by Royce Young

Time to give the hardwood a good waxing and to put some air in the roundball. Training camp is seriously just days away. Ken Berger has already kicked the priming off looking at Boston and San Antonio's training camp issues . And so let's start over here with a team with a disgruntled star that had people talking about where he could go before Carmelo Anthony took over - the New Orleans Hornets.

New Orleans Hornets


Training camp site: New Orleans, LA

Training camp starts: Sept. 28

Key additions: Trevor Ariza (trade), Marco Belinelli (trade), Craig Brackins (draft), Quincy Pondexter (draft), Mustafa Shakur (free agent)

Key subtractions: Darren Collison (trade), James Posey (trade)

Likely starting lineup: Chris Paul, PG; Marcus Thornton, SG; Trevor Ariza, SF; David West, PF; Emeka Okafor, C

Player to watch:   Chris Paul. Coming off an injury that caused him to miss the last 37 games of the season, some wonder if Paul will be the same player. Add in the turbulent offseason with rumors about his New Orleans future and all eyes are on CP3 as he heads to camp. Marcus Thornton is maybe the most intriguing player on the roster because of his potential to break out as a big time scorer, but the Hornets are Chris Paul's team and therefore, he's the one to be watching.

Chemistry check: Though Chris Paul tried to sooth some of the chemistry questions kicked up by him this summer by reportedly asking out of New Orleans, it's still something that's likely to linger over the team. Since it appears that Paul is kind of running the team with Dell Demps catering to Paul's wishes and desires, how does that make the rest of the squad feel?

Obviously CP3 is the leader. Obviously, he's the star. But how does all of that fit in with the rest of the group? Plus, Paul has a new running buddy in Trevor Ariza, a player that shoots first and asks questions later. How does Paul integrate his game with Ariza's trigger happy approach? Luckily for the Hornets, Monty Williams is a good man to have in charge of these issues and someone that can likely solve any kind of chemistry uptick.

Camp battles: One key area is up for discussion going into camp for the Hornets: Who's Chris Paul's new backup point guard? After trading Darren Collison as part of the Ariza deal, the Hornets signed D-Leaguer Mustafa Shakur in the offseason and have recently inked D.J. Strawberry to come to camp and compete for the job. It's the type of position battle that's not overly important because if all goes well, whoever wins the job will only get 8-10 minutes a night. But if something goes wrong like it did last season, it could become a very important spot for the Hornets.

At shooting guard, Marcus Thornton is almost assured of having the starting job, but Marco Belinelli could potentially push him a bit.

Long shots: Strawberry isn't necessarily a long shot, but the job is Shakur's to lose. The Hornets also are bringing in D-League journeyman Daryl Watkins who has spent time with the Kings, Spurs and Clippers. He's a big guy that has somewhat of a chance because of the thin Hornet front line, but it's not likely he makes the team.

Biggest strength: The starting five. Not to pull a Rodney Stuckey here, but on paper, NOLA has a pretty nice first first. Paul, Thornton, Ariza, David West and Emeka Okafor. That five should be able to match up with most, assuming Thornton continues his rise as a prolific scorer. West is a former All-Star, Okafor should have a full run with Paul and is a quality rim-protector and Ariza can score and is a capable lockdown defender.

Glaring weakness:   Depth. As is the case with a lot of teams with good front line talent, there's just not much waiting in reserve. The Hornets traded James Posey and Collison to get Ariza, which definitely hurt their depth. Add in the fact that they might have a D-Leaguer backing up CP3, Darius Songaila spelling West and Aaron Gray as their backup center, and you've got a team with issues on the bench. If rookies Quincy Pondexter and Craig Brackins can step up, those issues can be resolved but as of right now, it's a major question.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com