2009-10 Season in Review: Peja Stojakovic
By: Jim Eichenhofer,
May 4, 2010 continues its look back at the 2009-10 season with player-by-player analysis of the team:

What happened:
Prior to an abdominal strain that sidelined him for the final 18 games, it had been an injury-free campaign for Stojakovic, who has appeared in 70-plus games only once over the past four seasons. He played in 62 of New Orleans first 64 games, missing a pair of contests while attending to a family-related matter. Back problems had previously hindered Stojakovic in past seasons, but that specific ailment did not hamper him at all in 2009-10, an encouraging development that hopefully will continue for the remainder of his career.

That was a positive, because my back feels good, Stojakovic said when asked specifically by reporters about that body part. (But) I dont think anyone should be predicting the future. We dont know whats going to happen tomorrow.

Before the abdominal injury essentially ended Stojakovics season on March 8, he displayed a more versatile game than in his previous three years with the Hornets, particularly while Chris Paul was sidelined with injuries. Stojakovic had his best rebounding stretch as a Hornet, while also seeming to take the ball to the basket on a more frequent basis.

I tried to be more aggressive out there, especially when Chris got injured, the native of Serbia said. I tried to have more responsibility and do a little bit more than just being a spot-up shooter. Thats what I did. Unfortunately this (abdominal) injury came along.

Stojakovic actually began the season as a reserve, but was elevated into the starting lineup after New Orleans went 2-5. Former head coach Byron Scott stated prior to 2009-10 that one of the teams objectives was to reduce Stojakovics minutes, in order to keep the 12-year veteran fresher throughout the regular season. The small forward ended up averaging 31.4 minutes, the fewest for him in that category since 1999-2000 with Sacramento. As a result, several of his individual stats also dropped, including a 12.6 scoring average that was also the lowest hes produced since his second NBA season.

In the shooting department obviously his primary strength, as one of the best three-point marksman in league history he had a nearly identical season to the previous one. Stojakovics three-point percentage went from 37.8 to 37.5, while his overall field-goal percentage improved slightly, from 39.9 to 40.4.

Best game:
Hands-down, the biggest impact Stojakovic made during a Hornets victory this season took place on Nov. 19, when New Orleans defeated Phoenix 110-103 on ESPN. Stojakovic scored 27 points, including going 7-for-11 on three-pointers, while also hauling in 13 rebounds. He set season-highs in each of the latter two statistics (incidentally, 27 points were the second-most points he scored, behind only a 29-point game Feb. 8 at Orlando). The upset victory over the hot-starting Suns took place with Darren Collison making his fourth career NBA start in place of Chris Paul.

What's next:
Stojakovic has one year remaining on the five-year contract he signed with the Hornets during the summer of 2006. At this point of his lengthy pro career, team success trumps any other consideration, as he demonstrated in 2009-10 by willingly ceding his starting role after the coaching staff decided to move Julian Wright into the spot.

In a way, Stojakovics performance has mirrored the teams results since he arrived as a notable free-agent acquisition. His best season as a Hornet undoubtedly was 2007-08, when he appeared in 77 games New Orleans went 56-26 and captured the lone division title in franchise history. Unfortunately, for both player and team, the past two seasons have been impacted by injuries.

This team definitely has talent, Stojakovic said. This year was really disappointing to all of us, with all of the injuries that happened. But its something we have to deal with individuals and a team. Hopefully next year we can come back and be better.


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