Yahoo! preview magazine projects 44 wins

Monday, September 13, 2010
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com

As part of Hornets.com’s look ahead to the 2010-11 season, I’m taking a closer look at what several of the major publications are writing about the team. The second preview magazine I’ve seen so far this fall, from Yahoo! Sports, recently hit newsstands ($7.99).

Yahoo! predicts New Orleans will finish with a 44-38 record and in fourth place in the Southwest Division, ahead of Memphis but behind San Antonio, Dallas and Houston. The magazine does not expect the Hornets to make the playoffs, projecting the eight Western Conference postseason qualifiers from 2010 to remain the same. Yahoo! has Oklahoma City as the eighth seed with a 47-35 record, meaning that New Orleans would finish three games out in that scenario. Houston was tabbed to go 46-36 and take ninth place in the West.

I’m editorializing here, but you probably need to take some of Yahoo!’s predictions in this preview with a grain of salt. For example, they absurdly projected Cleveland to go 12-70. By comparison, their Eastern Conference seventh seed is New York, with a 41-41 record. You can’t seriously tell me that the Knicks’ roster and prospects for this season are that much better than the Cavaliers’, if at all. Not nearly as far-fetched, but Yahoo! also calls for a 70-win Miami Heat regular season. Anyway, back to the Hornets:

PAUL STILL AT THE TOP
Yahoo! writer Kelly Dwyer on the Hornets’ point guard: “Deron Williams played the best basketball of any point guard in the NBA last season, but with everything equal and both players running at full health, Chris Paul is still the best point guard in the league. And even though he was playing through injuries, possibly returning a little too soon twice in the season, Paul still put up all-world stats even as he saw his averages dip across the board. He averaged nearly 19 points and almost 11 assists while still coming through with 2.1 steals per game.”

QUINCY CRITIQUE
Quincy Pondexter was none-too-pleased this summer by the rampant skepticism in pre-draft coverage regarding his supposed lack of shooting ability. Understandably so, since few of the statistics from his college career at Washington seem to back up the idea that he can’t shoot (as a Huskies senior, he made 82.7 percent of his free throws and 35.3 percent of his three-point attempts). Yahoo!’s assessment: “Quincy Pondexter has the hops and athleticism to make a dent during his rookie season, but he can’t shoot or dribble right now.”

BOTTOM LINE
It must be pointed out that the Yahoo! NBA magazine must have been printed relatively early in the offseason, because its Hornets preview does not account for the Trevor Ariza trade. This was Yahoo!’s final assessment of New Orleans’ chances to make the playoffs in 2011: “It’s a tough challenge, even if Chris Paul is pumping it out there 82 times in 2010-11. The West was loaded last season, and it’s hard to see any team in the top eight that looks ready to fall out of the playoff bracket. On top of that, Houston has Yao Ming back and the Clippers and Grizzlies could also be fighting for one of the West’s playoff spots. If Monty Williams has some magic up his sleeve in determining rotations and new GM Dell Demps wins over Paul and makes some knockout moves… New Orleans could move up.”