MOST VALUABLE PLAYER
G Jarrett Jack is certainly no Chris Paul, but after Paul's departure Jack embraced the role of team leader. With Eric Gordon sidelined, Jack also had to assume the role of top offensive player. That's not really the type of player Jack is, but he was a key reason the Hornets were reasonably competitive much of the time before he had to shut it down because of a foot injury.
MOST DISAPPOINTING PLAYER
Last season, small forward Trevor Ariza was a key player in coach Monty Williams' defense-oriented system because of his ability to slow down elite perimeter scorers. But Ariza's value waned as this season went along and, with a couple of weeks to go, Williams stopped playing him in order to get a longer look at younger players. Whether Ariza remains a part of the picture moving forward is unknown.
The Hornets need not only a big man, they need big men. C Emeka Okafor wasn't a prototypical post player when he was healthy and, after missing half the season because of a sore knee, he might be out of the picture. Chris Kaman is more of a power forward than a center. The Hornets need multiple low-post players as well as a wing player who can create his own scoring opportunities.
FREE AGENT FOCUS
--F Carl Landry, F/C Chris Kaman and G Marco Belinelli are all unrestricted free agents with different chances of returning to the Hornets. It's unlikely the Hornets will re-sign Landry after he fell out of favor with coach Monty Williams, though Landry said late in the season that he would like to return. Kaman is a stronger candidate to return because his professionalism could be useful on a team rebuilding with youth, but it's more likely that the Hornets won't re-sign him as they stick with younger players. Belinelli was forced to go back and forth between the starting lineup and the bench, as well as play a little point guard and small forward due to injury, and earned praise from Williams for his hard work and unselfishness. He has grown in Williams' system and earned his respect, which means he's likely to return. G Eric Gordon is a restricted free agent the Hornets would like to re-sign. He's not only the most talented player they have, his departure would leave the team with no significant veteran to show for the Chris Paul trade.
--G Eric Gordon proved he was a difference-maker, even though he played in just nine games. The Hornets' record was 6-3 in games in which he played and his fingerprints were all over virtually all of the wins. On a team with severe offensive limitations, Gordon stands out.
--C Emeka Okafor didn't play the last 37 games and never seemed particularly eager to return from a sore knee. The Hornets undoubtedly will be tempted to invoke their amnesty clause and waive Okafor even though they would still have to pay him $28 million over the next two seasons.
--G Greivis Vasquez showed he has a ways to go to be a dependable NBA point guard, but he also showed he has the talent and coach-ability to possibly get there in the near future. He was forced to play more minutes than he was really ready for because of injuries to Jarrett Jack and even shooting guard Eric Gordon. He went through growing pains that might pay off down the road for him and the Hornets.
--Though the Hornets had numerous injuries throughout the season, none are expected to require surgery and everyone should be healthy well before the start of training camp.
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