Thursday, November 12, 2009

Byron Scott Reaction

It's hard to place all of the blame for the Hornets' slow start on Byron Scott. Sure, the team has an all-world superstar in Chris Paul, but one man can only do so much. Especially a team-first point guard like Paul.

CP3 is remarkably better than everyone else on his team, but will stop at nothing to get his teammates involved, simply because it's in his nature. With that said, for all the talk of "great players make the people around them better", that idea only works when there's talent to available be cultivated. As it stands today, there is no talent surrounding Paul for him to enhance.

Paul's close friend and long-time pick-and-roll partner Tyson Chandler was traded away for Emeka Okafor this summer, and while Okafor is a nice player, he doesn't possess the one thing that Paul used to make Chandler better- athleticism. David West has been an All-Star, but he has been up-and-down so far. Hilton Armstrong has Chandler's athleticism, but is more reminiscent of the Chicago Bulls' version of Chandler- young, immature, and without basketball IQ.

The team's two opening night wing men have been removed from the starting rotation, with Morris Peterson demoted so far as to be deactivated. Let's face it, their most potent offensive threat on the perimeter, Peja Stojakovic, is simply washed up and Peterson's replacement, Devin Brown, is no more than a role player.

In hindsight, the success that Scott had in 2008 may have also been his downfall. The Hornets made an improbable run to the number 2 seed in the Western Conference and came within a game of the Conference Finals, but when push comes to shove, overachieving is overachieving, and you can't expect it year-in and year-out when you just don't have the talent.

As I said, Paul is a superstar deserving of being in the discussion with LeBron James and Kobe Bryant as the best players in the league, but in the face of the current NBA landscape, one great player is just not enough. Great teams like the Cavaliers, Magic, Celtics, Spurs, and Lakers re-tooled their rosters in the off-season to make a run at the title, while the Hornets made only one (arguably ill-conceived) high profile roster move.

Aside from the trade for Okafor, which in some aspects could be considered a downgrade, the Hornets' most meaningful off-season acquisition was that of Bobby Brown. Bobby Brown, not unlike Devin Brown, is a career rotation player and a journeyman, who had trouble breaking the rotation of the talent-poor Minnesota Timberwolves last season. He is off to a great start in New Orleans, but does a team with Bobby Brown as its second most consistent player really constitute a winning environment?

Perhaps the Hornets' fans and management became spoiled after their successful 2008 season. Perhaps they failed to see their organization standing pat while the rest of the league jumped ahead. In any event, Scott was the man who paid the price for the organization's indolence.

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