NBA previews: Sporting News projects division title

Tuesday, September 23, 2008
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com

As part of Hornets.com’s preview of the 2008-09 season, we continue our look at what several of the major preseason publications are writing about the team. Today we review The Sporting News’ projections and opinions.

The publications predicts that New Orleans will follow up the first division title in franchise history with a repeat in 2008-09. The issue also tabs the Hornets to reach the Western Conference finals, but be eliminated by the Lakers.

More from the magazine:

SPORTING NEWS
On the Hornets’ overall outlook:

“What was supposed to be a season for the Hornets to simply get re-established in New Orleans exploded like a firecracker and got the Big Easy caught up in the frenzy. They sold out 20 games, including the last 13 in a row.

“So the Hornets would appear more than ready for the second act. They have signed Chris Paul – runner-up in the MVP voting to Kobe Bryant – to a three-year contract extension. They re-upped their coach, Scott, to a new two-year deal.
“This team that hadn’t been in the playoffs from 2004 until last season now has to be taken seriously from the very start of this (season).”

On Chris Paul:
“So much of (New Orleans’) excitement and enthusiasm has to do with the mercurial Paul, the 23-year-old water bug of a point guard who showed that his small physical package could deliver big, big things. He surpassed two-time MVP Steve Nash last season as the lightning bolt who never stopped crackling and quite simply couldn’t be stopped.

“Paul agreed to a (contract) extension because he, too, believes the Hornets are on the verge of something special. ‘After (factoring) my age, how I felt like I am as a player, our organization, this was the best deal,’ Paul says. ‘I couldn’t imagine playing for another team other than the Hornets. It’s all about winning.’ ”

On James Posey:
“Posey gives the Hornets a hard-nosed defender and versatile performer who can take the ball to the hoop and also make the big three-pointer late in the game. Most of all, he brings a championship pedigree and two rings from Miami and Boston to a team that desperately needed to find a veteran closer.”

An opposing scout’s take:
“It would be easy to say it all starts and ends with Chris Paul and he is certainly the one who makes them special. But there is plenty of other front-line talent here. David West is a below-the-radar guy who plays hard every night and Tyson Chandler is learning to become a consistent inside presence. Depth was a real weakness all of last year, but James Posey will do so much for them off the bench at different positions and can show them a champion’s attitude.”