The 2011-2012 season consisted of a lot of ups-and-downs for the New Orleans Hornets. But overall it was a tough season for the Hornets.
Chris Paul was traded before this season started and the Hornets definitely felt the effects of not having a superstar player. Paul led the Hornets into the playoffs last season with a 7 seed and almost upset the Lakers in the first round. In their first season without him the Hornets finished with the 3rd worst record in the NBA, 21 wins and 45 losses.
One of the main factors for such a disappointing season from the Hornets were the injuries. The entire original starting 5 has suffered a season ending injury.
Emeka Okafor played in 27 games before injuring his knee on February 13th. Jarret Jack played in 45 games and had to sit out the remainder 20 or so game after severely injuring his ankle on April 4th. Chris Kaman was just starting to get into a groove after battling trade rumors and speculations that the Hornets did not want him, then he was listed as out for the season due to a leg injury on April 16th. Trevor Ariza was having a huge disappointing season and battling injuries all season. Monty Williams decided to shut him down early on April 20th . Then there was Eric Gordon, the centerpiece the Hornets received from shipping Chris Paul to the Clippers. Gordon played in a grand total of 9 games for the Hornets this season. At least he produced in those 9 games though as he averaged 20.6 points per game.
With all these injuries and holes to fill, Hornets role players really stepped up. These players include, Carl Landry, Grevis Vasquez, Jason Smith, Gustavo Ayon, Al-Farouq Aminu, and Marco Belinelli. All of these players really took advantage of the opportunity they had and some made names for themselves.
The Hornets were also forced to find talent elsewhere and found a few D-League graduates to help them out. Lance Thomas, Jerome Dyson, and Darryl Watkins all came from the D-League and made an impact on the Hornets lineup. Thomas came in early in the season and played in 42 games and averaged 15 minutes per game. Dyson and Watkins both came in late in the season and each played in under 10 games. Both averaged almost 20 minutes per game.
The Hornets finally found an owner. Tom Benson is now the sole owner of the New Orleans Hornets after buying the team from the NBA. He says the main reason why he bought the team was because he feared that another ownership may buy the team and move them out of New Orleans. Mr. Benson also plans on changing the teams nickname to something more fitting for the city of New Orleans. So expect a lot of changes to be made this off-season.
The biggest upside of having a such a disappointing season and finishing with the 3rd worst record in the NBA is the NBA draft, and this years is loaded with talent. The Hornets have their own pick which is projected to be a top 3 pick, and they also received Minnesota’s 1st round pick via the Clippers from the Chris Paul trade. That is another lottery pick projected to be a top 10 pick. This gives the Hornets a great chance to pick two really great players to turn this franchise back around instantly. The Hornets also have a plethora of cap-room to re-sign Eric Gordon and pick up a few other great players in free-agency.
The Hornets and the city of New Orleans have a lot to look forward to in this years NBA off-season. I cannot wait to see what happens.