Big Easy Buzz Blog - April 12, 2010

Even 50 wins may mean No. 8 seed in West

Monday, April 12, 2010
By: Jim Eichenhofer,
How much must the Hornets (36-45) improve next season in order to make significant strides in the standings? Considering that all eight West playoff teams in 2010 may end up with 50-plus victories, the conference – already believed to be extremely formidable back in October – has actually been even better than expected.

Perhaps of even greater concern down the road for New Orleans, while the Eastern Conference has a few teams such as Detroit, New York and Philadelphia that are neither highly competitive nor youthful, nearly every club in the West is either a current contender or building around a talented, young core. Teams such as Oklahoma City and Memphis, for example, only figure to get better as their relatively inexperienced key players approach their primes.

The current competitive structure of the West means it’s possible the Hornets may need to improve by at least 10 to 15 wins next season just to contend for a playoff spot, let alone be in the hunt for a top-four seed.

“It’s about beating the teams that you should beat, and maybe breaking even against (elite teams),” James Posey said of improving next season to a level that might be playoff-worthy. “You see that 40-something wins is not going to get you in, especially in the West. In the East, you always have that chance (of qualifying). But the West is built differently. You've got to bring it every night. There are no nights off."

“I think any time you have a year like we had, obviously you have to look at the roster,” David West said. “Because what we had this year wasn’t good enough to stay in the hunt – even with the injuries. I think that’s the only thing you look at in terms of improving the roster. I don’t think anyone can know what will happen in terms of what the team will look like next year.

“I don’t think anyone can feel like they are untouchable. This is the NBA. This is a business first. In order for your business to do well, you have to have a good product on the floor. What we had this year wasn’t good enough, regardless of injuries. You have to look at everybody. You have to figure out what direction the team is going, and go from there.

“The people who are in charge of the organization have to do what’s best for the organization, just like we as players have to do what we can in order to be as successful as possible.”