Hornets As High As Sixth In Power Rankings

Tuesday, November 13, 2007
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com

Time for our weekly Tuesday look at where the Hornets rank in national media power polls (out of the 30 NBA teams):

Dime Magazine (6th, up 1 spot from 7th the previous week): “Peja’s 36-point, 10-trey explosion against the Lakers has been more exception than rule. In the three games since, he shot 7-for-31 from the field (22 percent), and even in the game prior to L.A., Peja was 1-for-10.”

Hornets.com says: You’ve got to hope that some of Stojakovic’s early inconsistency is a result of his extended absence from game action. He missed the last 69 contests of the 2006-07 season and appears to be struggling to find his rhythm in some games. His three-point percentage is outstanding at 47.3, though obviously that number is skewed big-time by going 10-for-13 from the arc at the Lakers. At 38.4, his overall field-goal percentage needs to improve and certainly will – other than his rookie season, he’s never shot below 42.3 percent. As you might guess just by examining his stats, many of his misses so far have come on deep two-pointers in the 18- to 20-foot range. Interestingly, if you look at shot-chart data provided by NBA.com, he’s shooting much better from the right side of the floor on deep twos than the left. On perimeter shots that are NOT three-pointers, Stojakovic has gone 57-for-133 from the right wing or corner, or 43 percent. From the same areas but on the left side of the floor, he is only 35-for-108 (32 percent).

NBA.com (8th, down 4 spots): “Healthy, the Hornets are showing us that they can be a second-tier team out West.”

Hornets.com says: So who is in the West’s first tier? I think most would agree that right now the elite group includes San Antonio, Dallas, Houston, Utah and Phoenix. New Orleans is going to have to continue playing well for an extended period of time before people buy in that the Hornets are a legitimate contender. Their only contest against any of that quintet was Friday’s Spurs game, which resulted in a one-sided defeat. The next matchup against another “elite” from the West takes place Nov. 23 in Utah. After that, New Orleans’ next big West test is home vs. Dallas on Dec. 1.

SI.com (8th, same as previous week): “Chris Paul dished out an NBA season-high 21 assists (with just two turnovers) to go with 19 points in their win at the Lakers. The sensational point guard has scored at least 15 points in each of his first five games while racking up 10 or more assists three times.”

Hornets.com says: I think the prettiest assist of the Lakers game came when Paul drove through the middle of the lane, drew a couple defenders, hung in the air, then wrapped a backward bounce pass around the D, hitting Peja Stojakovic perfectly for another open three-pointer. Paul averaged 7.8 assists as a rookie, and upped that stat to 8.9 last season. His 10.6 assists per game thus far is tops in the NBA. Did we mention that he’s also leading the Hornets in scoring (19.3 ppg)?

ESPN.com (9th, same as previous week): “The Hornets matched last season’s 4-0 start rather comfortably. To get to 8-3 – last season’s peak – they’ll need three wins in a four-game stretch featuring three road games: New Jersey, Memphis, Minnesota.”

Hornets.com says: ESPN.com’s rankings came out before the Hornets’ victory at New Jersey, meaning to go 8-3, they now need to go 2-1 during a stretch that consists of home vs. Philadelphia, at Memphis and at Minnesota. Those three opponents are a combined 3-13 so far, but New Orleans lost to several teams last season that didn’t look very intimidating on paper. This week will be another good test to see how much the Hornets have improved from last year’s 39-win club. Game 7 of last season was when injuries began wreaking havoc with New Orleans’ lineup and rotation.