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Tag:Melvin Ely
Posted on: June 17, 2009 7:37 pm
 

Biggest Draft Busts of NBA Draft Lottery Era

Now that the season is over and the draft is underway, the time is here and now to revisit my draft observations and start to look back at the biggest draft busts of all time.  There are quite a few go through, actually, and I know some people are going to point out that I left some out, but I'm taking into account the player, the players drafted after them, and the player's performance and attitude.  So here it goes: the biggest draft busts of the NBA Draft Lottery Era.

16) Adam Morrison, SF, Charlotte Bobcats Drafted 3rd Overall in 2006 NBA Draft out of University of Gonzaga (130 Games, 8.7 PPG, 2.4 RPG, 1.6 APG) - I only wanted to include 15 players, but I just want to remind everyone of how big of a draft bust Morrison has turned out to be.  While in college, Morrison would score from all angles and was unstoppable while at Gonzaga.  After a fantastic junior season in which he and Duk eguard J.J. Redick took the college world by storm, Morrison declared for the 2006 NBA Draft and was looked by many as a second coming of Larry Bird.  One of many questionable executive decisions by Michael Jordan, Morrison showed flashes of the dynamic scoring that made him such a high draft pick in his rookie season, but in the preseason of his second year in the league, Morrison suffered an extremely ugly looking ACL tear.  He missed all of his second season and then struggled to break into the rotation in this third year with the Bobcats.  Morrison was shipped to the Los Angeles Lakers midway through the 2008-2009 NBA Season but is an afterthought in the rotation and did not make the playoff roster for a team that won the NBA Championship.  He's a future free agent this offseason and it's questionable whether Morrison will have any kind of future in the NBA.

15) Todd Fuller, PF, Golden State Warriors Drafted 11th Overall in 1996 NBA Draft out of North Carolina State University (225 Games, 3.7 PPG, 3.0 RPG) - One of many awful Warriors draft picks in the Dave Twardzik era, Fuller was never really any good and never showed promise of being much of anything in his career, having a career high of 15 points and lasting only two seasons with the Warriors; four seasons in the league overall.  And if you want to look at the players drafted after him, you could have had a productive all star at every position: Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Peja Stojakovic, Jermaine O'Neal and Zydrunas Ilgauskas.

14) Los Angeles Clippers - The Clippers gave former general manager Elgin Baylor handfuls of opportunities to get it right in the first round during the draft lottery era, and he flopped almost every time.  In 1985, Benoit Benjamin was drafted 3rd overall (807 Games, 11.4 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 2.0 BPG, 1.3 APG), Reggie Williams was drafted 4th overall in 1987 (599 Games, 12.5 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 2.5 APG, 1.3 SPG), Charles Smith was drafted 3rd Overall in 1988 (564 Games, 14.4 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 1.4 APG, 1.4 BPG), Bo Kimble was taken 8th overall in the 1990 NBA Draft (105 Games, 5.5 PPG, 1.5 RPG), LeRon Ellis was taken 22nd Overall in 1991 (91 Games, 3.0 PPG, 2.4 RPG), Randy Woods was taken 16th in 1992 (151 Games, 2.4 PPG, 1.7 APG), Terry Dehere was taken 13th in 1993 NBA Draft (402 Games, 8.0 PPG, 2.6 APG, 1.5 RPG), Lamond Murray was taken 7th in 1994 (736 Games, 11.3 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 1.3 APG), Lorenzen Wright was taken 7th overall in the famed 1996 NBA Draft (778 Games, 8.0 PPG, 6.4 RPG),  Maurice Taylor was taken 14th in 1997 (534 Games, 11.0 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 1.2 APG), Darius Miles was taken 3rd overall in 2000 (446 Games, 10.1 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 1.9 APG, 1.1 BPG), Melvin Ely 12th overall in 2002 (343 Games, 5.6 PPG, 3.3 RPG), Chris Kaman 6th overall in 2003 (385 Games, 10.4 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 1.4 BPG, 1.2 APG), Shaun Livingston 4th overall in 2004 (157 Games, 7.3 PPG, 4.6 APG, 3.1 RPG), and Yaroslav Korolev was taken 12th in 2005 and hasn't played a minute in the NBA.  There are a few solid names and numbers, but year after year of opportunities to draft an above average player and the Clippers flopped all of them.  In fact, the most respectable players drafted by the Clippers in the draft lottery era are Lamar Odom (1999), Tyson Chandler (2001) and Antonio McDyess (1995).  Chandler and McDyess both had their rights traded to other squads before ever suiting up for the Clippers, and Odom didn't make it past four years with the Clippers.  One glaringly bad selection is being saved for later in this countdown.   God save Blake Griffin.

13) Danny Ferry, F, Los Angeles Clippers Drafted 2nd Overall in 1989 NBA Draft out of Duke University (917 Games, 7.0 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 1.3 APG) - Taken by the ill fated Clippers, Ferry refused to report to Los Angeles and after playing a year in Italy to protest, he was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers and given a very lucrative ten year guaranteed contract by Cleveland.  The guy he was traded for?  Ron Harper.  A tremendous colliegate player with size and a shooting touch, Ferry was supposed to be a great player but hardly produced in Cleveland.  He did, however, win a championship on the end of the bench for the 2003 San Antonio Spurs.

12) Ed O'Bannon, PF, New Jersey Nets drafted 9th Overall in 1995 NBA Draft out of University of California in Los Angeles (128 Games, 5.0 PPG, 2.5 RPG) - The star and Final Four MVP for the 1995 UCLA Bruins, O'Bannon wasn't big enough for the league and struggled to score when drafted by the New Jersey Nets.  Hardly making any kind of niche in this league, O'Bannon lasted a year and a half with New Jersey before being shipped to Dallas.  His entire NBA Career was two seasons.

11) Future Michael Jordans - Harold Miner, SG, Miami Heat drafted 12th Overall in 1995 NBA Draft out of University of Southern California (200 Games, 9.0 PPG, 2.2 RPG, 1.2 APG) and Dennis Hopson, SF, New Jersey Nets drafted 3rd Overall in 1987 NBA Draft out of Ohio State University (334 Games, 10.9 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 1.6 APG) - Jordan's dominance in the league prompted many analysts to try and find the "next Michael Jordan" to come in every single draft.  A fantastic scorer at Ohio State, Hopson struggled on the court and clashed with his coaches before being shipped to Chicago and quietly exiting the league after five seasons in the league.  Miner won two NBA Slam Dunk Contests and his athletic ability prompted the media to christen him "Baby Jordan."  Outside of dunking, Miner wasn't very talented in any area of the court and he only lasted four years in the league.  The closest either of these players got to Jordan was when Hopson sat on the bench in 1991 and won an NBA Championship with Jordan's Chicago Bulls.

10) William Bedford, C, Phoenix Suns drafted 6th Overall in 1986 NBA Draft out of University of Memphis (238 Games, 4.1 PPG, 2.4 RPG) - Bedford was an imposing presence in college for the Memphis Tigers and was projected to be a huge NBA star.  Drafted sixth overall by Phoenix, Bedford only lasted six seasons in the league and struggled with drug addiction the entire time.  He was arrested for drug possession twice in 1996 and 1997, accused of transporting 25 pounds of marijuana in 2001 and arrested two more times for marijuana before being given a ten year sentence in 2003.  Bedford is currently serving time in Fort Worth, Texas and will be in prison until 2013.

9) Rafael Araujo, C, Toronto Raptors drafted 8th Overall in 2004 NBA Draft out of Bringham Young University (139 Games, 2.8 PPG, 2.8 RPG) - A prime example of what happens when you draft for need instead of by talent, Araujo was taken eigth overall by Toronto in 2004 and lasted only three seasons in the league.  His play on the court was abysmal and he's one of many examples of why you should never draft a player simply for his size.  He was out of the league by 2007 after he was traded to Utah.

8) Eddie Griffin, F, New Jersey Nets drafted 7th Overall in 2001 NBA Draft out of Seton Hall University (303 Games, 7.2 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 1.7 BPG) - An extremely talented ball player, Griffin had many flashes of brilliance in college at Seton Hall, but had many character problems and even got into a fight with a teammate during a practice that was the beginning of the end for a promising Seton Hall season.  Once viewed as a possible selection for the first overall pick, Griffin was drafted by the Nets.  Griffin's rights were traded to the Houston Rockets for the rights to Richard Jefferson and Griffin quickly drank himself out of the league.  Succumbing to alcohol problems, Griffin rarely played as a result of his problems and his performance didn't show much promise either.  He was released in 2003, and missed every game until 2004 as a result of being in a rehabilitation clinic.  He came back to play for the Minnesota Timberwolves and was a good story before his off court problems and on court production continued to dissapoint critics until Minnesota released him in 2007.  Griffin eventually died in August of 2007 after his car was hit by a train.

7) Jonathan Bender, PF, Toronto Raptors drafted 5th Overall in 1999 NBA Draft out of Picayune High School (237 Games, 5.6 PPG, 2.2 RPG) - Billed as a Kevin Garnett clone, the Indiana Pacers immediately traded established forward Antonio Davis for the rights to Bender and looked to make him a cornerstone for the future of the squad.  Davis went on to be an all star in Toronto and Bender never got off of the bench in Indiana.  Injuries and inconsistency kept Bender grounded and he quietly exited the league in 2006.

6) Nikoloz Tskitishvili, PF, Denver Nuggets drafted 5th Overall in 2002 NBA Draft out of Georgia [Europe] (172 Games, 2.9 PPG, 1.8 RPG) - Tskitishvili played profesionally in Italy and won the 2002 Italian championship under current Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni.  Viewed as an extremely talented player with a ridiculous skill set, Nikoloz was quickly taken by the Denver Nuggets in 2002 and billed as a do-it-all type player who can score in transition, run the floor, score from the outside but was a foreign product who teams had hardly seen play.  As a result, he was simply word of mouth when he was drafted by Denver and his performance on the court was awful.  A worst case scenario for foreign drafted players, Nikoloz is possibly the worst lottery pick in terms of talent and quickly left the league after the 2007 season.

5) Robert Traylor, PF, Dallas Mavericks drafted 6th Overall in 1998 NBA Draft out of University of Michigan (438 Games, 4.8 PPG, 3.7 RPG) - Note to NBA: don't draft someone in the lottery who is nicknamed Tractor.  Standing at 6 foot 8 and generously being billed at 284 pounds, Traylor was an imposing presence in college and bullied around opposition in the paint.  When drafted by Dallas, his draft rights were immediately traded for the rights to German prospect Dirk Nowitzki.  Nowitzki is a future hall of famer, and Traylor's production on the court was abysmal.  Traylor regularly battled obesity to the point where he was out of the league by 2005. 

4) Michael Olowoakandi, C, Los Angeles Clippers drafted 1st Overall in 1998 NBA Draft out of University of Pacific (500 Games, 8.3 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 1.4 BPG) - So big a bust that he deserves a slot all his own, seperated from the Clippers, Olowokandi is the worst of all of the draft blunders made by the doomed Los Angeles franchise.  After only one solid season for the Pacific Tigers, Olowokandi was drafted to be the man in the middle of the future for the Clippers and rewarded them with mediocre production.  He showed flashes of being a solid player, but once he signed to play for the Minnesota Timberwolves, Olowokandi hardly got off of the bench.  Suffering through injuries his entire career, Olowokandi was drafted first overall in a draft that produced six different NBA All Stars in Mike Bibby, Vince Carter, Antawn Jamison, Dirk Nowitzki, Paul Pierce and Rashard Lewis.

3) Chris Washburn, C, Golden State Warriors drafted 3rd Overall in 1986 NBA Draft out of North Carolina State University (72 Games, 3.1 PPG, 2.4 RPG) - An extremely talented athlete gifted with extremely soft hands and incredible speed for someone his size, Washburn was drafted third overall under much publicity for Golden State.  A high school prodigy of sorts, Washburn was inconsistent at North Carolina State and teammates would question his work ethic and criticize his penchant for skipping class.  After serving jail time for stealing a stereo while in college, Washburn would have one good season and declare for the NBA Draft.  The Warriors lookd to bring him along slowly to cope with his immaturity but it didn't work.  Washburn was largely ineffective and rarely got off the bench.  After only three seasons in the league, Washburn was banned from the NBA for life after testing positive for cocaine three times in three years.

2) Kwame Brown, C, Washington Wizards drafted 1st Overall in 2001 NBA Draft out of Glynn Academy High School (462 Games, 7.0 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 1.0 APG) - Brown holds the distinction of being the first high schooler to ever be selected first overall in an NBA Draft.  Highlighted as the first of many bad executive decisions made by basketball legend Michael Jordan, Brown struggled to display any production or maturity in his first few years as a Wizard.  In his th ird season he showed real signs of a breakthrough, but injuries and problems with his teammates cost him his job in Washington.  He was sent home by the Wizards during the 2005 NBA postseason and was on the negative end of two of the most lopsided trades in recent memory, being traded to the Lakers for Caron Butler and then being traded to the Grizzlies for Pau Gasol.  His future looks to be primarily as a backup center in the league.

1) Darko Milicic, F-C, Detroit Pistons drafted 2nd Overall in 2003 NBA Draft out of Serbia (337 Games, 5.5 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 1.2 BPG) - There were a lot of great players in the famed 2003 NBA Draft.  Going into the draft, it was almost assured to all that Darko Milicic would be the first player selected after LeBron James.  The Detroit Pistons, fresh off of a conference finals appearance, were able to land the No. 2 pick after a prior deal with the then Vancouver Grizzlies for Otis Thorpe.  Milicic arrived with much fan fare in Detroit but was never able to get off of the bench.  Viewed as too young by fans and coach Larry Brown, the 18 year old Milicic sat on the bench for two Pistons teams that went to the finals and Darko won a championship in his rookie season on the 2004 Pistons team.  Midway through his third year with the Pistons, still unable to get off of the bench, Milicic was traded to the Magic and showed the promise that people hoped for.  However, after landing a solid deal from the Memphis Grizzlies as a result of that promise, Milicic has largely dissapointed and stands out as a ridiculously underachieving talent in a draft that included players such as Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade and even Chris Kaman, Kirk Hinrich, T.J. Ford and David West drafted after Milicic.  Even though the Pistons achieved great success at the early part of this century, this pick is largely viewed as "what could have been" as most say the team would have achieved more than one championship if not for this draft blunder.
Posted on: April 8, 2009 3:16 pm
 

2009 NBA Playoff Preview: New Orleans Hornets

Previous Previews:
Western Conference:
Los Angeles Lakers - http://www.cbssports.com/mcc/blogs/
entry/5993128/14206197

Houston Rockets - http://www.cbssports.com/mcc/blogs/
entry/5993128/14288379

Denver Nuggets - http://www.cbssports.com/mcc/blogs/
entry/5993128/14321911

San Antonio Spurs - http://www.cbssports.com/mcc/blogs/
entry/5993128/14346631

Portland Trail Blazers - http://www.cbssports.com/mcc/blogs/
entry/5993128/14386245

Utah Jazz - http://www.cbssports.com/mcc/blogs/
entry/5993128/14393609

Eastern Conference:
Cleveland Cavaliers - http://www.cbssports.com/mcc/blogs/
entry/5993128/14152907

Boston Celtics - http://www.cbssports.com/mcc/blogs/
entry/5993128/14220509

Orlando Magic - http://www.cbssports.com/mcc/blogs/
entry/5993128/14229507

Atlanta Hawks - http://www.cbssports.com/mcc/blogs/
entry/5993128/14238342

Miami Heat - http://www.cbssports.com/mcc/blogs/
entry/5993128/14373942

Philadelphia 76ers - http://www.cbssports.com/mcc/blogs/
entry/5993128/14376757

Well now that teams are clinching divisions and spots in the postseason I thought it would be cool to go ahead and preview each team that is going to be a part of the 2009 NBA Postseason. I will do one for each team as they clinch a playoff spot and since we already have teams that have clinched, we will start with them. Now we will continue with a team, after some heroics last night, clinched a playoff spot for the second consecutive season: the New Orleans Hornets.

Strengths
When you speak of the Hornets, the first thing that comes to mind (and rightfully so) is starting point guard Chris Paul.  Paul has been the motor for the Hornets the past two seasons, and as a result of his performance they're in the playoffs for the second straight season.  Paul has always been the quintessential point guard, making the right play for a teammate in the right position and ensuring involvement from all in the offense.  Coach Byron Scott, a coach who has been to the NBA finals before, knows to let Paul control the offense, and Paul does so very effeciently.  This year, Paul has improved on both his jump shot and also on the defensive end of the court.  Along with Paul's emergence as a defender, and also the acquisition of good team defenders with championship experience in James Posey, Antonio Daniels and Devin Brown has been the Hornets emergence as a defensive force in the NBA.

This year, the Hornets have elevated their status as a defensive team, and are in the top five in the league in terms of points allowed.  Byron Scott knows what it takes to win a championship, having won three as a player with the Lakers.  The Hornets have been criticized for slowing the game down a lot this year, and some say playing away from their strengths, but when games slow down in the playoffs this year the Hornets will be adept at playing that style and won't look as desperate as they did last year when the games slowed down and got more physical.  One thing that's most important to the half court offense is effecient jump shooters and the Hornets have plenty of those in fellow All Star David West and capable three point shooters in Rasual Butler, Peja Stojakovic, Morris Peterson, and Paul.  Also, because of their style of play, the Hornets have shown that they can win anywhere in the NBA, boasting a 21-17 road record.

Weaknesses
Because the Hornets go as Paul goes, it's no secret that the Hornets have an uncanny overreliance on Chris Paul when they're on the floor.  In moments where Paul goes to the bench, the offense looks stagnant, predictable and boring and it shows in the Hornets 2nd quarter point totals.  David West is capable of masking Paul's absence on the court, but his back injury has limited his effectiveness in the paint this year and he seems to have fallen in love with the jump shot that was merely a weapon last year.  West's infatuation with the 20 foot jump shot is the prime example of a Hornets squad that simply cannot score in the paint.  They have players that can finish around the basket, but aside from West and the rarely used Melvin Ely, Sean Marks, Hilton Armstrong, and Ryan Bowen aren't going to become focuses of the defense with their back to the basket game.

One of the biggest reasons why the Hornets struggle so much in the paint is because of the absence of Tyson Chandler for the majority of this season.  The Hornets record when Chandler plays is strikingly better than that with him out of the lineup, but unfortunately his injury looks like it will prevent him from playing in the postseason, or playing effectively in the playoffs, this season.  A big reason for the Hornets surge last year was health, and this year has been the complete opposite.  Paul's nursing an injured groin, West is nursing an injured back, Chandler an ankle, Stojakovic a back, and Peterson has barely played this year with a bad leg.  Last season's starters have missed a total of 101 games this season, as opposed to 22 being missed between the five last season.  Posey's recent elbow troubles have also highlighted a huge problem for the Hornets, a serious lack of depth.  None of the second unit players are very reliable scoring the basketball aside from Posey, and he's not necessarily in the game to score.  They have great defensive depth, but they don't have anyone who can score off of the bench.

Why They Will Win It
The Hornets go as far as Chris Paul brings them, and he's one of the most consistent and effecient players in the game.  He and David West have been incredibly reliable this year and really have carried this squad to where it is.  The ressurection of Rasual Butler this year gives the Hornets a shooting guard that can play huge minutes and who is a more reliable option offensive and defensively than Morris Peterson was last season.  Also, this is a team that has experience from last season's squad, and also the addition of players like Posey, Daniels, Brown, Marks and Ely who have all previously won championships as well.  In addition to having a coach who has succeeded as both a player and at his current position, the Hornets are a disciplined, dedicated squad and they give themselves a chance to win every game. 

Why They Won't Win It
As reliable as Paul and West are, there isn't a third player on this team that is reliable at all.  To win a championship, you need at least a handful of players that are playing great basketball in order to carry you through four rounds of the postseason.  Injuries may have prevented the Hornets from developing any kind of groove and probably is the biggest reason why the squad has no consistent third option, seeing as how Peja was that player last year.  A lack of depth and a lack of frontcourt players can't be masked in the postseason and the Hornets have to work extra hard to make up for that. 

Conclusion
The Hornets are a team that's built for the postseason.  If Chandler does come back, they have a squad that plays great defense, is effecient shooting the basketball and has one of the best players in the game in Chris Paul and a player who never shies away from the big shots in David West.  However, a lack of depth and consistency has plagued the Hornets all season long, and there's not enough time to get everyone back and develop any kind of chemistry this season.  Injuries really hurt this team, and it's arguable that Scott and Paul have done a better job this year than they did last season.  However, it isn't conceivable that the Hornets can win a championship this year at less than full strength.  They're a team that can win a few playoff series, but just like last year, they're going to wear down and a lack of options is going to do this team in.

The next team to clinch will be covered in the next preview.

Posted on: December 22, 2008 1:00 am
 

New Orleans Hornets Week 8 Review

Right now it's good to be a Hornets fan. Chris Paul is setting all time records, the team has won 11 of its last 13 games, and they have a tough stretch coming up that us Hornets fans are as excited about as any games since the beginning of the season. The Hornets had two good games at Memphis and at home against Sacramento (avenging an earlier loss to the Kings this season in New Orleans) and the week was highlighted with a humongous 4th quarter against the, then, red hot San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday night. It was a week that left a lot to be excited about in the Big Easy and also reason for optimism after a frustratingly inconsistent start for the team.

The week began at Memphis with the Hornets overcoming a testy and confrontational Grizzlies squad to set up the big showdown Wednesday night at home against the Spurs. The sting of a seventh game loss still affects me to this day and in no way does this loss erase that unsettling conclusion that your team's run at a championship is officially on ice. But seeing Matt Bonner and Michael Finley miss all those open shots and watching David West nail two different three point daggers sure did make me happy for one night.

But even though West played the role of a hero of sorts in Wednesday's game, his play needs to come into question. Last season, West became so consistently deadly from mid range that he's relied too much on that shot this year. Some games I'll see him roaming around the top of the key instead of doing his job as the only inside scoring presence that the Hornets have. That mid range jump shot should be an asset not a reliance. He leads the team in scoring and his play is so critical to the organization that the Hornets simply can't rely on him shooting 40% for the week. He needs to be more effecient for this team to reach that ultimate goal of a championship.

Morris Peterson came back in a big way Saturday night against the Kings. His 10 points were all critical baskets and I still believe his play is going to be critical for this team down the stretch. I'd like to see him play his way back into the rotation. I love what Devin Brown brings to the team, but with Peja Stojakovic out I'd much rather have Rasual Butler and Peterson starting and have Devin Brown play off of the bench. Speaking of Peja's injury, how on Earth did that happen? He went from hitting a crucial three point dagger against Memphis to surprisingly missing the game against San Antonio and then missing the game against the Kings as well. His injury was extremely surprising and for a majority of that Spurs game his presence was definitely missed. Even if he struggles at the three point line, you know he's a threat and people were playing off of Devin Brown on the perimeter. The Hornets need Peja in order to succeed.

What's happened to Melvin Ely? Is Sean Marks really that better of an option than Ely is? Marks has never contributed consistently on a team and he looks lost out there at times. Ely is every bit as effecient offensively as Marks is and I don't see the point of having Marks getting the big minutes. He even logged more minutes than Hilton Armstrong the game against the Kings. I'm not one to question Byron Scott, but I just don't get it.

The Hornets have an extremely tough week on the brink, with games at home against the Lakers, at the Magic on Christmas Day and against the Rockets at home on Friday night. That three game in four day stretch will end on Sunday at Indiana against a Pacers team that has shown it can beat the top teams in the league. It's a challenging upcoming week for the Hornets, but it's a week that should be fun to watch. Until next week.

Posted on: December 15, 2008 1:43 am
 

New Orleans Hornets Week 7 Review

Alright, alright, alright people here it comes: I was wrong. But I was right in my wrongness. Before the season started I stated that Mike James would have to be a productive player and have to be the backup shooting guard for the Hornets as a result of his contract and the team's lack of depth behind Chris Paul at the position. I stated that the loss of Jannero Pargo was going to cripple the Hornets coming into the season (and said it before everyone else has now noticed it) but stated that James could put up Pargo numbers with Pargo's minutes. That's probably true for James over in Washington but he's not going to put those numbers up in New Orleans. Wednesday's trade for Antonio Daniels and a conditional 2nd round draft pick left Mike James in Washington and give the Hornets the backup point guard they need to be taken with a bit of legitimacy. Devin Brown has been servicable at the backup point guard position but it's clear he's playing out of position at that spot. Now that he's going to move back to his more natural 2 position, it looks as if he's played his way into the rotation: sending Morris Peterson and Julian Wright further down the bench.

Rasual Butler, an afterthought entering the season for most Hornets fans, has taken the starting job through Peterson's injury and has done the most with it this season, playing his way out of Byron Scott's doghouse and giving the Hornets an additional three point threat in the starting lineup. Wednesday's game against the Bobcats was a breeze for the Hornets. The only criticism that should be given to the team for that game would be on those awful New Orleans Buccaneers throwback jerseys. Please no more of those. But seeing as how the Hornets have lost to the Bobcats this season, it was nice to see them stare the opposition in the eye, know they were better than them and soundly show that they were better.

Friday night's game at Boston was encouraging despite the 94-82 loss. Moral losses aren't much for a team hoping to win a championship this season, but playing that way without Tyson Chandler proved that the team has a lot of heart and a lot of grit. But when you play a team as sound defensively as the Celtics are and you watch players consistently kill you on the offensive boards, you know that Chandler is missed. But let's be honest: Chandler's been missed all season. This new injury (a stiff neck) can join his ankle injury and back stiffness this season and continues to trouble the Hornets starting center. Something has not seemed right and you can only hope it's not serious and that he can still come back and be the player he was last season for the Hornets. Hilton Armstrong has stepped in strongly in his absence but his knack for picking up fouls has left Sean Marks playing double digit minutes the past few games. Nothing against Marks, I'd just rather him be a guy like Ryan Bowen, who comes in in garbage time and is a fun locker room presence. I don't like him taking Melvin Ely's minutes because Ely is more of an inside scorer, which is what you'd idealy want on the Hornets since players like David West tend to stay around the perimeter too much. But Ely has to earn his minutes and apparently Marks has earned them.

Speaking of David West, he saved himself from a lashing from yours truly with a strong performance today at Toronto. His shooting percentage this year is solid right around 50 percent but what was a great tool for him last season has turned into something he depends on this year. He's a great mid range jump shooter but you'd like to see him take it down to the low block a little bit more and use his agility and size to his advantage. The way he played against Chris Bosh today was very admirable and furthers the notion that the Hornets can win with him as the number two scorer.

James Posey has been great this week as well and especially today at Toronto, knocking down six three pointers in the win over the Raptors. He still has yet to get into a groove (in my eyes) but I think with time he'll be able to easily gain confidence in the rotation and be able to effortlessly contribute on a nightly, routine basis.

The Hornets continue their little road swing at Memphis on Tuesday before coming home to face the red hot Spurs on national television Wednesday night before hoping to exact revenge on the Kings Saturday night in New Orleans. Wednesday night's game will be huge for the Hornets as they don't want to develop habits of coming up short against the better teams (such as Friday's game at Boston). But they can't overlook a solid and streaking Grizzlies team on Tuesday. But the way they've been playing lately, Byron Scott seems to have this team's attention. And as we've seen in a league where five coaches have been fired already this season, having the attention of your team is a fantastic thing. Until next week.

Posted on: December 10, 2008 2:42 pm
Edited on: December 10, 2008 4:10 pm
 

New Orleans Hornets Land Antonio Daniels In Trade

It's a dream scenario here in Hornets land as they basically give up Mike James for Antonio Daniels in a three way deal.  Also involved in the deal are Javaris Crittenton joining Mike James in Washington with the Wizards, and the Grizzlies are receiving a first round draft pick that they originally gave to the Wizards in the Juan Carlos Navarro deal back in 2007.  The Hornets also land a conditional 2nd round draft pick from the Grizzlies. 

This is a fantastic move for the Hornets.  Antonio Daniels will be a solid backup to Chris Paul and while he's never been potent on offense, his defense and championship experience off of the bench will be a perfect balance for the offensive prowress that Chris Paul provides.  Along with James Posey, Devin Brown, Melvin Ely and Sean Marks he joins a bench that now boasts four players with championship rings (although Daniels and Posey are the only ones to play prominent roles in those championship runs while Brown was a nice contributor to the Spurs' 2005 run).  Antonio Daniels is going to be a great addition and unloading Mike James also does wonders for the team's salary cap: Daniels' contract should go up in the next year or two.

All in all, an under the radar tinker with the roster but altogether a great addition by the Hornets.

Posted on: November 30, 2008 2:39 pm
 

New Orleans Hornets Week 5 Review

 The economy is bad.  I can't afford Christmas presents for my friends and therefore I'm assured they can't afford presents for me.  I have to take a defensive driving class on Saturday to nullify a "rolling stop sign" ticket I received nearly two months ago.  I've had turkey for dinner for three straight nights and my last three Hornets weekley reviews have been negative.  I have a college algebra test this week and finals all next week, but today is good.  Today is a day for positive thoughts in Big Easy Bugs land.  Two wins over the lowly Thunder (see last week's review) and a win over the equally lowly Clippers helped get the Hornets back on track with a four game winning streak and although the Hornets still look a tad discombobulated out there, things are at least feeling good again in New Orleans.

The first game of theweek, played on Monday night in Los Angeles, proved to be a solid victory against the Clippers.  Eric Gordon is the last in a string of swingmen who continue to dominate against the Clippers (see J.R. Smith and Brandon Roy as well) but the Hornets were able to use their talent advantage to, well their advantage, and overcome a game Clippers team.  The Thanksgiving night game at Denver, though, was the best game that the Hornets have played since their game at home against the Cavaliers three games into the season.  James Posey and Rasual Butler were huge in the game, providing the Hornets with two strong performances and hope for the bench for the future when Morris Peterson eventually returns to the lineup (he missed all three games this week as well).  All of the good will that was gained in the surprising game against the Nuggets (despite efforts from scorned former promising Hornet J.R. Smith) it was lost just as quickly in their game at Portland the very next night.  Back to backs are tough, but traveling to two different time zones in two nights is even more difficult and the Hornets looked sluggish all game.  They did a good job controlling the paint (which is surprising as the frontcourt is supposed to be the weakness of this team) but frontcourts are killing the Hornets currently.  That's something that needs to be addressed and I'm sure Byron Scott will get around to it.

Peja Stojakovic has come to life the past few games for the Hornets, serving as their leading scorer against the Trail Blazers, shooting 47 percent from three point land this week.  I think a majoritiy of people undervalue the importance of Peja to this team.  When he's making shots and when he's spreading the defense the team flourishes and David West is allowed operate down low and Chris Paul is allowed to operate from all angles around the floor.  Speaking of Chris Paul and David West, they both had quiet games against Portland and West, especially, has looked sluggish the past two games, shooting 35 percent from the field at Denver and Portland after having great games against the Thunder and Clippers.  Paul, meanwhile, struggled against Portland but followed up two straight triple doubles with an amazing fourth quarter performance at Denver and has had a steal, now, in 99 consecutive games-bringing him within six games of the NBA record set by Alvin Robertson.  Here's to a Hornet setting any kind of milestone.

Speaking of struggling, Tyson Chandler still continues to pile up lackluster performances at center.  Hilton Armstrong continuously improves by the game and he is on par with Tyson Chandler as far as averages per 48 minutes (Armstrong is averaging 14.4 points, 9.3 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per 48 minutes while Chandler is averaging 12.3 points, 11.2 rebounds and 2.1 blocks in the same categories).  Congratulations to Chandler for welcoming his son into the world on Thanksgiving day, but he needs to improve if the Hornets are to have any legit shot at a championship this season.  Also on the topic of big men, I'm surprised to see Sean Marks get more minutes than Melvin Ely this season.  I understand that Sean Marks has a better long range shot but I'm not too sure if long range accuracy is a necessity for the Hornets at the moment.  Melvin Ely has a good low post game and I'd like to see him get more minutes than Sean Marks but he's been in and out of Byron Scott's rotation so far this season.

The Hornets have two home games this week, against Phoenix on Wednesday and Memphis on Saturday.  Tyson Chandler and David West should both look to have bigger weeks against the competition and hopefully the Hornets won't let the confidence from their four game winning streak be lost with underwhelming performances this week.  Hopefully Morris Peterson, who had a huge game at Phoenix in the second game of the season, will return this week and it will only strengthen the Hornets bench with Rasual Butler adding firepower to an impressive set of frontcourt players off the bench for the Hornets.  Until next week, people.

Posted on: November 23, 2008 2:05 pm
 

New Orleans Hornets Week 4 Review

 "I told our guys, they are full of themselves if they step on the court and think teams are scared of them."  Two victories over the last place Thunder couldn't mask the obvious.  Hornets coach Byron Scott put the entire team on notice: you've gotten soft.  My week 2 worries have been brought to fruition following the Hornets Wednesday night loss to the Kings.  A home loss to a Sacramento team minus Kevin Martin is inexcusable for a team whose ultimate goal is to become an NBA champion.  In addition to the earlier loss in the season at Charlotte and Byron Scott said it best: these teams don't fear the Hornets.  Nor should they.  The Hornets don't play with that "us against the world" mentality that they had last season.  Last season they were wild and aggressive and played an inspiring brand of ball.  This season they're trying to copy that, and it looks forced.  This team still lacks its identity but Chris Paul and David West have to continue to keep this team afloat until everyone else remembers that the Hornets are supposed to be a great team.

What's wrong with Tyson Chandler?  This week Chandler averaged 6.7 points and grabbed 7 rebounds.  Normally those are solid numbers but Tyson Chandler is above that average style of play.  Those are his Chicago Bulls numbers.  I don't know if his ankle is still bothering him or if he's just trying to do too much after lifted expectations this season, but he needs to get back to playing strong defense, running the floor and blocking shots.  Hilton Armstrong stole a majority of Chandler's minutes in the teams two victories over Oklahoma City and played strong: taking all of his shots around the basket and showing an aggressive drive for the ball near the hoop.  That's very encouraging for a team that's playing Julian Wright at the 4 a lot the past couple of weeks.  But I'm not sure if Wright will continue to play the 4 since Melvin Ely returned at Oklahoma City on Friday night. 

Speaking of injuries: it's tough to watch Devin Brown go down Saturday night against the Thunder.  He's taken over as the second scoring option off of the bench (after James Posey) and played a majority of his minutes at the point guard position.  It's necessary for him to play or else Mike James will get a lot of minutes, and I'm sure Byron Scott is not playing him for a reason.  Further on the injury report, Morris Peterson was a late scratch for the Wednesday night game against the Kings but missed both of the Oklahoma City games as well.  Rasual Butler has stepped in admirably for the Hornets and has now started four games this season but the team misses Peterson's defense: most notably when John Salmons went off for 29 points Wednesday night.  They can't get by without him but he does help the team more than what pepole notice.

The Hornets return to Oklahoma City Friday night was a lot of fun to watch.  I miss the days when the Hornets played in OKC and anyone who has been on the boards long enough knows that I actually wanted the Hornets to stay in Oklahoma City.  The return to New Orleans has been nice, but the fans will turn on the team when they start losing again.  Oklahoma City fans cheered rabidly for the team in two losing seasons.  Even though the Thunder didn't add any excitement during the game (Friday night's blowout was embarassing) the fans warm reception to the Hornets players and to Byron Scott was nice to see.  I wish those fans nothing but the best, even though their team doesn't leave much hope.

For the past three weeks the Hornets have played Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday night games.  They've played 9 games in 21 days and they will again play only three games this week.  They hit the road for games at the Clippers, at Denver and at Portland.  It's essential that the Hornets win at least two of these games for their own confidence, but they still posses the talent to steal all three. 

Posted on: November 16, 2008 11:50 pm
Edited on: November 16, 2008 11:53 pm
 

New Orleans Hornets Week 3 Review

This week leaves us very malcontent in Hornets nation.  Entering this week the Hornets were coming off a very dissapointing second week, in which they lost at home to the Hawks and at Charlotte before finding a way to overtake the Heat in New Orleans.  But this week brought more of the same for the big easy bugs.  As of today, they've now lost four out of their last six, and it looks as if this team is struggling to regain the identity that it possessed for so much of last season.  The swagger and confidence that was there in April and May is gone, and this is a team playing off of expectations and habit.  A 5-4 record is nothing to scoff at, especially since everyone in the NBA has had an up and down week and they remain only a half game behind Houston in the southwest division, but this is a team that needs to regain its confidence.  Its bench, all too often a hindrance to the Hornets has continued to be inconsistent and unpredictable.  James Posey has been every bit what the Hornets signed him up to be and the price tag, at the moment, doesn't seem as high as it did when they offered it to him, but after him there's no guarantees.  Moments like this the Hornets miss the big game production and swagger that Jannero Pargo brought to the team.  Mike James can put up Pargo numbers (he put up 10 points against the Heat last week) but doesn't have that presence or command the attention that Pargo did and hasn't yet produced like Pargo did.  Overall this team needs to develop options and currently there aren't any that you can rely on past Chris Paul and David West.

Coming into this week was the highly anticipated matchup with the Lakers on Wednesday night.  The Lakers proceeded to continue to be the Lakers and took a 21 point lead into halftime before the Hornets came back and cut it down to 3 points with a minute and a half left.  That shot that Kobe Bryant hit over James Posey was a thing of beauty and completely unguardable.  But this was a problem that the Hornets had last season; first half performances.  The Hornets ended the season and played in the playoffs very lackadaisacally in the first half and the same problem has followed the team to this season.  The Hornets need to get up for games like this (especially with three days off in between them and with the Lakers being on the second night of a back to back) and with their chance to get a little confidence they played flat against the best team in the league. 

Then came the game against Portland on Friday night in New Orleans.  The Trail Blazers came into the game on a winning streak and the Hornets, though ugly, pulled out a victory over the Blazers to get back on the board.  But that ugly win was followed by an ugly loss at Houston on Saturday night.  The Rockes bottled Chris Paul and a weak 18 points by David West was all that kept the Hornets to a respectable 9 point loss.

I don't want to come across as harsh on my team but they had an awful week (even though they did win against Portland).  Their performances in these three games leave a lot to be desired and don't exactly inspire us onlookers.  Tyson Chandler may still be bothered by that ankle as he has yet to kick it into stride this season and Peja Stojakovic has been wildly inconsistent with his shot.  He's not automatic as he was last season (37.4% from the field) and he has yet to find his groove.  This all could be attributed to still being in early season mode, rust and continuity lacking on the team but it's not encouraging when you're playing this way against teams that are playing well as a team themselves. 

Rasual Butler (a favorite of the first two reviews) had a quiet week but still remains in the regular rotation.  With Mike James missing the games against Portland and Houston and with Melvin Ely missing every game since the Phoenix game, the Hornets have played Hilton Armstrong and Devin Brown heavy minutes this week.  Devin Brown responded (7 points 2.6 rebounds this week) but Armstrong continues to just be another body out there.  He needs to show aggression if he wants to keep his job, because Antonio McDyess is available (though I'm not sure if the Hornets could afford him) and there's a chance they could go after P.J. Brown at midseason.  His seat is hot and I'm not seeing the immediacy I need to see out of him.  Coming up next Wednesday is a game against Sacramento who fields an impressive list of big men.  Armstrong will need to be productive and will need to have some sort of presence if the Hornets are to feel safe with him in the lineup.

Coming up next week is a meeting in New Orleans against the Kings, a return to Oklahoma City that I'm much looking forward to and a rematch against the Thunder the next night in New Orleans.  So The Hornets have an opportunity for three impressive victories this week and time will tell if they get back to that team you knew would win last season.  Until then, we'll have to think of last season to have good memories of the Hornets.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com