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2009-10 Season in Review: Emeka Okafor
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com
April 27, 2010


Hornets.com continues its look back at the 2009-10 season with player-by-player analysis of the team:



What happened:
After playing for the expansion Charlotte Bobcats throughout their first five years of existence, Okafor arrived in New Orleans last summer hoping to reach the NBA postseason for the first time. Okafor entered 2009-10 having averaged a double-double in each of his five seasons, but that streak came to an end, partly due to a reduction in playing time. The former UConn standouts previous low in minutes per game was 32.8, but in 2009-10 that average dipped to 28.9. In terms of rebounds per minute, Okafor actually improved slightly from the previous season, pulling down 15.0 per 48 minutes (his rate in 2008-09 was 14.8).




Overall though, the 6-foot-10 center described his debut with New Orleans as a disappointing one, both from a team and individual standpoint.

The fact that I didnt make the playoffs, thats the biggest disappointment, he said of the 2009-10 season. Im bummed about that. But weve got to stay focused, come back strong next year, improve and make sure were back where we belong.

Okafor also gave a critical assessment of his own performance in an interview with NBA FanHouse after the All-Star break, saying Its just been a funky year. If you look at peoples careers, they have one year that happens to be off for whatever reason. So you cant really look to be discouraged by it. Youve got to take from it the best you can and deal with it next year. If the trend continues, then you have a problem. Im just hoping its a hiccup year. For whatever reasons, certain players have slightly down years, and this might be it.

Best game:
There were five games in which Okafor produced 20-plus points and 10-plus rebounds this season. Among those handful of performances, the one that made the most critical impact was probably Jan. 30 at Memphis. Okafor finished with 21 points and 10 rebounds in an overtime victory, scoring 19 of his points after intermission. The Hornets overcame a 21-point second-half deficit to beat the Grizzlies, equaling the second-biggest comeback in franchise history.

What's next:
The Hornets are looking forward to having their starting center available during 2010 training camp and preseason, after he missed the entire 09 run-up to the regular season due to injuries.

There is plenty of room for Emeka to improve, said Hornets assistant coach Rob Werdann, a former NBA center who played for the Nuggets and Nets. He didnt get a chance to work on some things during the season due to injuries or nagging things. His body is in such good condition; he wasnt really taxed too much (during the season). He can spend a summer playing ball and pickup games and improving his skill set.

Okafor agrees: My main thing this summer is to just expand my offense, basically. I just want to get more comfortable offensively.



OTHER 2009-10 SEASON IN REVIEWS:
CHRIS PAUL SEAN MARKS DARIUS SONGAILA EMEKA OKAFOR MARCUS THORNTON
PEJA STOJAKOVIC AARON GRAY JAMES POSEY MORRIS PETERSON DARREN COLLISON
JULIAN WRIGHT DAVID WEST




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