COACH: Byron Scott | 2006-07: 39-43
New Orleans Hornets

The Hornets need Chris Paul to stay healthy this season.
Noah Graham/NBAE/Getty Images
To say the New Orleans Hornets were devastated by injuries last season might be an understatement. The team's top three scorers Chris Paul, David West, and Peja Stojakovic missed a whopping 117 games because of injury. In addition, Bobby Jackson and Marc Jackson missed 26 games each. Somehow despite this fact, the Hornets finished the season at 39-43, only three games behind Golden State for the 8th playoff spot in the West.

The question for New Orleans now is can the team stay healthy enough to improve and make a playoff appearance? Stojakovic, who was acquired before last season, played only 13 games in a Hornets uniform before suffering a back injury. Although he is reportedly recovering well from surgery, his health could be the most important factor to the success of Hornets' season.

New Orleans picked up swingman Morris Peterson in the offseason, a nice addition who should supply some perimeter offense, but they lost forwards Brandon Bass and Desmond Mason to free agency.

The Hornets will return to New Orleans full-time for the 2007-2008 season, with all 41 home games to be played in New Orleans Arena. Since Hurricanes Katrina and Rita destroyed most of the city in 2005, the team played most of its home games over the past two seasons in Oklahoma City.

Coach Byron Scott will try to lead the team to its first playoff appearance since the 2004 season, when they lost 4-3 to Miami in the first round.


Backcourt
One of the most exciting young point guards in the league is Chris Paul, who was named NBA Rookie of the Year in 2006 and averaged 17.3 PPG, 8.9 APG, and 1.8 SPG last season. A repetitive stress injury to his left foot required surgery just before the end of the season, and stopped him from being able to participate with the U.S. National Team. Paul, who has reportedly regained his quickness in summer workouts, told the New Orleans Times-Picayune, "It's been a long summer with rehabilitation, but I think getting back here has got me feeling more confident. I get to see these guys on a daily basis, and I'm going to keep strengthening my foot. As far as playing, as soon as they told me I could walk on it, I've been shooting.''

Mo Peterson, who signed a four-year deal in July, comes to training camp as the team's starting shooting guard. A seven-year veteran who has played his entire career with Toronto, the 6-7 Peterson gives the Hornets a bigger defender at the off-guard position and a player who can consistently knock down open jumpers.

Bobby Jackson and Jannero Pargo round out the Hornets' backcourt options.


Frontcourt
One of the brighter spots last year was Tyson Chandler, a 7-1 center who had a career season averaging 9.5 PPG, 12.4 RPG and 1.8 BPG. Chandler has been working on his jump shot over the summer, as Scott has said he will continue to involve Chandler more in the offense. Forward Peja Stojakovic, once one of the deadliest sharpshooters in the NBA, could provide huge offense if he can stay healthy enough to contribute. David West is an explosive and talented forward who averaged 18.3 PPG and 8.2 RPG in 52 games last season.

However, the Hornets could be slightly undermanned behind their frontcourt starters. "We're looking to add another frontline player because I think we need more than four," GM Jeff Bower told the Times-Picayune. "Obviously, we're real encouraged with Tyson (Chandler), and David West continues to evolve into a prime-time player, and the development of Cedric Simmons (since traded to Cleveland) and Hilton (Armstrong) is something we continue to watch. We would like to add a fifth frontline player to be able to challenge and test everyone."
-- Jeff Brody
Great lower bowl seats for $3,000 per pair that's $1,800 off the individual ticket price! Also includes a meet and greet with Chris Paul and his autographed jersey!

Stojakovic
Peja Stojakovic has said he is rehabilitating nicely this summer from surgery for disc fragments in his back.

But with most of his rehab taking place in Greece, observers have not been able to confirm his condition. While the uncertainty of his physical situation makes some Hornets fans uneasy, GM Jeff Bower is confident Stojakovic will be ready for the season. "We've been monitoring his workouts," Bower told the Times-Picayune. "He met with his surgeon this summer. We're happy with where he is."

The Hornets certainly hope Peja shows signs of the player he was prior to injury. If he can pick up where he left off, New Orleans could be headed for its first playoff run in the last four years.
-- Jeff Brody
THE STAT
.399 Peja Stojakovic's career three-point field goal percentage is .399 (1195-2996).
Scott
BYRON SCOTT
Eighth Season, Fourth Season with New Orleans
Career Record: 244-290 (.457)
Playoff Record: Two times, 25-15 (.625)

When Coach Byron Scott began holding voluntary workouts prior to training camp, at least seven current players showed up. Scott, who is known for conducting rigorous training camp, expects heavy competition for several backup spots on the roster.

"Winning is the only thing on our minds this season," Scott told the New Orleans Times-Picayune. "Having seven guys already working out shows they're serious -- and they want to have a great season."

And with last year's injury situation, Scott and GM Jeff Bower hope the early workouts will help get their players comfortable before camp. "It's good for the atmosphere and for the culture of the team to have guys anxious to go to work," Bower continued. "Given our situation this year, it makes a lot of sense for guys to be here early and get settled into their home environments as well."
-- Jeff Brody
KNOW YOUR HORNETS
Peja Stojakovic became a Greek citizen in 1993 because teams from his native Yugoslavia were not permitted to play in the European Cup.
I attribute some of their success to playing in Oklahoma City, where they had great fan attendance. Now that they're back in New Orleans fulltime, I don't see them stepping up like everybody else does.
West, Chandler and Paul are young and improving. They could all come out and have great seasons. They have the talent. If they're healthy they can be one of those teams fighting for one of the bottom playoff spots in the West.
It's going to come down to health and veteran leadership.
-- Western Conference Scout
PG - Chris Paul: Paul is ready to take the leap into the top three fantasy PGs.
SG - Peja Stojakovic: After a disastrous injury-riddled 2006-07, there's no where to go but up.
SF - Rasual Butler: Even if he doesn't start, minutes are there to be had.
PF - David West: He could provide you with a third-round draft pick type of talent.
C - Tyson Chandler: Chandler established himself as a legitimate fantasy center last season.
Hornets Fantasy Preview | Fantasy Home
Record: 39-43, 9th in Western Conf.
Playoffs: Did not qualify
Scoring Leader: C. Paul, 20.3 PPG
Rebounding Leader: T. Chandler, 11.9 RPG
Assist Leader: C. Paul, 9.0 APG

Simulated Season Details
PLAYER/2006-07 STATS PPG RPG APG
PG Chris Paul 17.3 4.3 8.9
SG Peja Stojakovic 17.8 4.2 0.8
SF Rasual Butler 10.1 3.2 0.8
PF David West 18.3 8.1 0.7
C Tyson Chandler 9.5 12.4 0.9

F-C Hilton Armstrong 3.1 2.7 0.5
C-F Melvin Ely 3.0 1.8 0.3
G Bobby Jackson 10.6 3.2 2.5
G-F Morris Peterson 8.9 3.3 0.7
F Julian Wright -- -- --
C Peja Stojakovic Serbia
F Marcus Vinicius Brazil
F Melvin Ely Free Agent
G Adam Haluska Draft
F Morris Peterson Free Agent
G David Wesley Trade
F Julian Wright Draft
F Brandon Bass Free Agent
F Desmond Mason Free Agent
F Cedric Simmons Trade
PPG David West 18.3
RPG Tyson Chandler 12.4
APG Chris Paul 8.9
SPG Chris Paul 1.8
BPG Tyson Chandler 1.7
Points Scored 95.5 (25th)
Points Allowed 97.1 (10th)
Field-Goal Percentage .445 (26th)
Opponents' FG% .457 (12th)
Rebounding Diff. +2.3 (8th)
NBA Seasons: 19
Playoff Appearances: 9
NBA Finals Appearances: 0
Championships: 0
Best Season: 1996-97, 54-28
Season/Home Opener
Oct. 31 vs. Sacramento (8:00 p.m. ET)
Longest Road Trip(s):
6 games in 9 days: March 25 April 2
@ IND, @ CLE, @ BOS, @ TOR, @ ORL, @ MIA
Longest Home Stand(s):
5 games in 10 days: January 16-25
SEA, CHA, MIL, POR, LAC
Buy tickets | Full Hornets schedule
TV: Cox Sports Television
Radio: 102.9 FM, 1300 AM
Web: Official site
Local Coverage: New Orleans Times-Picayune