Lindy mag ratings place Hornets fifth in Southwest

Wednesday, September 15, 2010
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com

As part of Hornets.com’s preview of the 2010-11 season, I’m taking a closer look at what several of the major publications are writing about the team. The third preview magazine I’ve seen so far, from Lindy’s, recently hit newsstands ($6.99).

Lindy’s uses an eight-category, 1 through 10 ratings system to make its 2010-11 NBA predictions. As a result, it picks New Orleans to finish in last place in the Southwest Division and in 12th in the Western Conference. A closer inspection of their numbers, however, helps explain why the publication is so down on the Hornets’ prospects for this season.

In the Point Guard category, the Hornets received a score of 8.5 (out of 10), which is less than San Antonio (9.0) in that department and tied with both Dallas and Houston (8.5 each). Since the rating presumably also factors in depth – the Hornets did not have another point guard on the roster besides Chris Paul last month – Lindy’s essentially assessed that New Orleans does not have an advantage at the position over any division rival except Memphis (6.5).

Furthermore, in the Coaching category, New Orleans received a 5.0, the lowest score of any team – not just in the Southwest Division, but also the entire league. Needless to say, it’s a bit misleading to grade Monty Williams’ ability before he has even been the head coach for a preseason game, so that should also be taken with a grain of salt. By comparison, the other two bench bosses with no prior NBA head-coaching experience are Atlanta’s Larry Drew (6.5) and Chicago’s Tom Thibodeau (7.0).

Although Lindy’s does not predict 82-game won-loss records, you can determine the order of projected finish by the ratings system it uses. Based on that criteria, the only Western Conference teams Lindy’s expects the Hornets (44.5 points) to finish ahead of are Golden State, Minnesota and the Los Angeles Clippers. Here are a few of the interesting points from the Lindy’s 2010-11 preview:

ARIZA’S IMPACT
Lindy’s believes the addition of Trevor Ariza solves one of the team’s annual concerns in recent years. “The Hornets always were waiting for Julian Wright to develop and Stojakovic to get healthy,” wrote Lindy’s Al Iannazzone. “Now in Trevor Ariza they have an athletic, productive and defensive-minded swingman, who has championship experience and only missed 10 games the past two seasons. Ariza, 25, averaged a career-best 14.9 points for the Rockets last season, one year after helping the Lakers win the NBA championship. His shot selection could have been better last season but overall has shown marked improvement the past few years.”

WEST ASSESSED
Lindy’s provided a couple interesting points about David West’s 2009-10 season, noting that “he had another solid season as he led the team in scoring, averaging 19.0 points and was second to Okafor in rebounds with 7.5 per game. Both were down from the past two seasons, and it was the first time in three years West averaged under 20 points. He may have missed Paul in that regard as West took two shots per game fewer than in each of his prior two seasons. Still, his scoring average ranked sixth among power forwards, and he was as efficient as ever.”

BOTTOM LINE
The publication includes a brief feature on the prior San Antonio connection between Dell Demps and Monty Williams. Of the challenge facing the GM-head coach combo, Lindy’s reports: “Since the Hornets are over the (salary) cap, both men used the word creative when talking about the kinds of moves they needed to make. … They are on the decision-making side of things, responsible for showing Chris Paul the Saints aren’t the only championship-caliber team in town.”