By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com, @Jim_Eichenhofer
May 24, 2012
Hornets.com continues its look back at the 2011-12 season with player-by-player analysis of the team:
Unfortunately for Okafor, from an individual standpoint, 2011-12 will be remembered for the season-ending knee injury the center sustained in mid-February, causing him to miss the final 39 games. Okafor had been one of the NBAs most durable players over his previous few seasons, playing in 318 of a possible 328 games from 2007-08 through 2010-11, including perfect attendance of 82 games for three consecutive years.
Okafor had a disappointing and frustrating debut with the Hornets in 2009-10, but bounced back with an excellent 2010-11 and made an appearance in the NBA playoffs for the first time in his career. After Okafor had fit well as a rebounding and shot-blocking presence in a lineup that had included Chris Paul and David West, it was much more difficult to define his role on a 2011-12 squad that constantly changed due to roster moves and injuries.
While often sharing playing time at the center spot with Chris Kaman early in 11-12, Okafor averaged a career-low 28.9 minutes, which coincidentally was the exact same number Okafor logged per game during his 2009-10 Hornets debut. Partly as a result of his decrease in time spent on the floor, the 6-foot-10, 255-pounder registered just five double-doubles, after accumulating 23 in the previous season.
Of the five double-doubles Okafor delivered this season, his most impressive occurred on Jan. 21 vs. Dallas, when he finished with 16 points and a season-best 17 rebounds. The 16 points represented his second-highest tally of 2011-12 (he scored 19 vs. Sacramento on Feb. 6). The Mavericks ended up eking out an 83-81 victory on the Hornets home floor, but Okafor nearly powered the hosts to what wouldve been a memorable come-from-behind victory. Dallas led by 11 points entering the fourth quarter, but New Orleans stormed back to make it interesting. At the buzzer, Jarrett Jacks offensive rebound putback came up short, allowing the Mavericks to escape with a rare road win in the Crescent City.
The first obvious step of the University of Connecticut products return to the floor will be to get back to 100 percent health after missing two-plus months of the regular season due to a sore left knee. Hes been seen multiple times recently working out with a trainer at Elmwood Fitness Center, causing health-club visitors to do a few double-takes. Having signed a lucrative, long-term contract extension as a member of the Charlotte Bobcats back in 2008, Okafor has two years remaining on his current deal. The Hornets other center, Kaman, will be an unrestricted free agent on July 1.
|ADDITIONAL 2011-12 SEASON IN REVIEWS|
|JASON SMITH||JARRETT JACK||GUSTAVO AYON|
|MARCO BELINELLI||LANCE THOMAS||XAVIER HENRY|
|EMEKA OKAFOR||CHRIS KAMAN||ERIC GORDON|
|GREIVIS VASQUEZ||AL-FAROUQ AMINU||TREVOR ARIZA|
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