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2008-09 Season in Review: Peja Stojakovic
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com

June 11, 2009

Hornets.com continues its look back at the 2008-09 season with player-by-player analysis of the team:


PEJA STOJAKOVIC
Age: 32
NBA experience: Eleven seasons [ Hornets (3), Kings (7 1/2), Pacers (1/2) ]
Games played (starts): 61 (59)
Key statistical averages: 13.3 points, 4.3 rebounds

What we expected: Coming off one of the best shooting years of his career in 2007-08 which is saying something, given how successful Stojakovic has been at that skill the Hornets hoped for a repeat performance from the 6-foot-10 forward. Stojakovic was a critical ingredient to the Southwest Division championship-winning team, remaining healthy for nearly the entire campaign. He drained several crucial baskets during the 56-win season and helped spread the floor with his proven long-range shooting ability. The 17-win jump New Orleans made in 2007-08 was in no small part due to having a healthy Stojakovic on the floor for the first time since his signing in July 2006.

What happened: Back spasms, the injury that ruined Stojakovics 2006-07 season, forced him to miss a total of 21 games in 2008-09. In addition, during his 61 regular season appearances, his shooting stats dropped noticeably from the previous year. For the first time since his rookie season of 1998-99, his field-goal accuracy fell below 40 percent. His three-point percentage of 37.8 was his lowest since his second season in the NBA. For the bulk of the season, it appeared as though Stojakovic would have a second straight mostly injury-free year with the Hornets he played in 53 of the teams first 59 games. However, beginning March 5, he was sidelined for 15 games with the aforementioned back injury. He returned to the floor April 3, but struggled to locate his touch over the final eight regular season games and five postseason contests. Over those 13 games, he made just 32.9 percent of his three-point attempts.

Best game: Trailing in the second half against Philadelphia on Jan. 26, one of Stojakovics patented three-point barrages helped turned a seven-point halftime deficit into a 15-point win over the Sixers. Stojakovic connected on five straight three-point attempts during the second half and finished 6-for-11 from beyond the arc. He racked up 26 points, two shy of his season-best in point production.

The future: Stojakovic has two years remaining on the five-year free-agent contract he signed in the summer of 2006 with the Hornets. His health and spot-up shooting competency will be keys to New Orleans bouncing back from its late-season struggles of 2008-09. His name has been floated in trade rumors by newspapers in several other cities, but Hornets president Hugh Weber said in May that Peja (is) critical to the core of this team. We normally have five or six roster changes a year. Were planning to make the traditional roster changes that we make, not a blow-it-up type (rebuilding) process. But I dont want to tie anyones hands and say, Jeff (Bower) cant talk about (a specific player).











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