James Posey signed with the Hornets as a free agent in the summer of 2008, so he wasn’t here for the team’s surprising 2007-08 run to the Southwest Division title and its first playoff-series victory since 2002. From that vantage point, it’s not entirely fair to ask him to explain how New Orleans could decline from 56 to 49 to 37 victories over the past three seasons. Still, Posey has a few theories.
“That first year (of 2007-08), it could’ve been surprising a lot of teams and getting a lot of wins that way, because you weren’t expected to win,” Posey told NOLA reporters late in the regular season. “That might have helped. I was on a Memphis team (in 2003-04) where, the first year I was there, we made the playoffs by beating teams we weren’t supposed to beat. Those wins start adding up and you feel good about yourself. You start winning games off that energy and say, ‘We’ve never been to the playoffs before. We want to know what that feeling is like.’ ”
For New Orleans to return to the postseason in 2011, Posey knows it’s going to require a substantial improvement, especially considering all eight Western Conference playoff teams won at least 50 games.
“You’ve got to beat the teams you’re supposed to beat, and sort of break even against the teams that may be ahead of you,” Posey said. “You see that 40-something wins is not going to get you in the playoffs in the West. In the East, you always have that chance. The West is just built differently. We have to start from scratch next year and put ourselves in a better position to succeed. That comes from taking care of the regular season.”