Last season the Golden State Warriors lost the most the games to injury out of any playoff team and had the second worst injury bug in the league. Who had the worst? The New Orleans/ Oklahoma City Hornets. So far this season the Hornets have much more healthy and it's showed in the NBA standings. This is a good team with some good bloggers over at Hornets247.com.
Float like a butterly, sting like a Hornet!
Head on over to Hornets247.com for Fantasy Junkie's answers to their questions.
Then make the jump for some thoughts on the Hornets' big man tandem of Tyson Chandler and David West, a comparison between Baron Davis and Chris Paul, rookie Julian Wright, and more from Ryan Schwan of the Hornets27.com crew.
Golden State of Mind: When people outside of New Orleans and Oklahoma talk about the Hornets all they ever seem to talk about is Chris Paul, which of course is well-deserved. But considering the nice numbers that the Hornets starting 4-5 combo of David West (~18 ppg, 9 rpg, 1.5 bpg) and Tyson Chandler (~12 ppg, 12 rpg, 1 bpg) are putting up right now it really seems like people are sleeping. How good have these two big men been this season for the Hornets? How would you rate them with respect to other big men combos in the West? What is the ceiling for these two players?
Ryan (Hornets247.com): Usually when a big man is acquired and the team says they "got him because he compliments our other big man" you can usually translate that to mean one sucks, and the other doesn't. West and Tyson actually do compliment one another on the floor, and make a devastating pair. Other than Duncan-Oberto(freakin' Duncan), there isn't a 4-5 combo in the game, much less in the West that currently matches them.(maybe Kaman-Brand at their best? Oden-Aldridge on potential?) West can score inside and out, but Chandler is such a brutal offensive rebounder that his defender can't let him loose on the boards and help on West, leaving West to operate. But where they really help one another is defensively. Despite mediocre block numbers, both are good one-on-one defenders, Chandler with length, speed, and natural athleticism, and West with strength(he's damn strong) and anticipation. Together, they are a big reason the Hornets are the 4th best defense in the league.
As for their ceiling, West is 27 and Chandler 25, but I really don't think you'll see their offensive output rise more than a combined 3-4 points per game over the next few years. Defensively, however, I think they'll continue to grow. In fact, my previous statements about their defense were definitely not true much of last year. The two of them have been growing defensively as they get used to each other, and I've been very impressed how they've developed.
Golden State of Mind: As a close follower of the Hornets you've had the chance to see both the early years of Baron Davis and Chris Paul's careers. How would you compare the two's games their first few years in the league? How could you compare them right now? Who would you rather have now? Who would you rather have in 2 years?
Ryan (Hornets247.com): Man, asking a Hornets Fan a question about Bloody Baron(sorry for the Harry Potter reference) Davis is like questioning Sean Penn about his feelings for George Dubya - The results aren't going to be pretty. Your questions about who'd I'd rather have now and who I'd rather have in 2 years can be answered by this article I posted in September and recently reposted at Hornets247. As for comparing their games early in their career - Baron was then, and always will be, a much stronger finisher off of penetration. Even from day one, he would just go through the defenders if he couldn't go around. He was a sight to behold. Paul can get in there, but he's had to develop floaters and tricky layups to get his shots off. Baron also came into the league with a ton of flash in his game. Paul is spectacular, but you won't see any of Baron's unbelievable fast break over-the-shoulder dribbles followed by a between-the-legs bounce pass to a trailing big man. On the flipside, you could tell that Paul was going to be a better shooter - he's always been deadly from the stripe and from mid-range.
Golden State of Mind: Last season the Hornets suffered the worst injury bug in the league even topping the injury-riddled Warriors. This year they've been much more healthy and it shows in the team's early win-loss total. Do you expect this luck to continue? Are there any players in particular who you're worried about missing games in 2008?
Ryan (Hornets247.com): Please don't mention last year. That season was possibly more disappointing than the Hornets 18-64 season - the one that featured Dan Dickau as the leading scorer and the wonderful 'Baron Davis for Speedy Claxton and Cap Relief' trade. As for injuries, from the day we signed them, I fully expected Bobby Jackson and Peja Stojakovic to miss about 15-20 games this season, they've done that every year. This year, Stojakovic's back seems fine, so the player I'm most worried about is David West. Not only is he near irreplacable, but the dude is notoriously slow to heal. His sophomore year he sat out 52 games with a bone bruise. I mean, come on, 2/3rds of a season to a bruise? And when he hurt his elbow last season, they expected it to heal. Instead it got worse until he had to have surgery. The surgery had a 3-6 week recovery time. He took the full six. If he gets hurt, we lose him for a month, minimum. That'd be really bad.
Golden State of Mind: During most of time leading up to the 2007 NBA Draft Julian Wright was lauded as a probable top 10 or even top 7 pick. However this forward slipped a little to the Hornets at the #13 spot. He's barely played this year for the Hornets, but what have you seen from him? Is he an intriguing future piece to this Hornets team? What is his upper ceiling and lower limit in this league?
Ryan (Hornets247.com): Julian is a riot to watch. He's all arms, legs and freakish energy flailing around on the court. But despite his frantic-seeming way of playing, I don't think I'd be far wrong to call him our best defender. He's also a great pogo-stick style rebounder. On the offensive side of the ball, his passing is dazzling. He's just slick as hell, and still catches his own teammates off guard with how easily he can get the ball to them through traffic. He can also dunk and send home 'oops with the best of 'em. That said, I can't say much else good about him on that end of the floor. His dribble is mediocre and his shot is bad. Great arc on it - but no aim. I mean, none, airballs the norm. Supposedly he can hit in practice - so maybe he'll find his offensive game eventually. If he does, he has the potential to be a Josh Howard/Gerald Wallace sort of player. At worst, I could see him in a disruptive Lindsey Hunter bench role - except as a forward obviously, not a guard.
All of us at GSoM wanted to thank Ryan and the rest of the Hornets247.com crew for trading thoughts with us. Friday night at the Roaracle should be a good one.