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What the Hornets should do if the lockout ends

Sep 22, 2011, 5:49 PM EDT

Chris Paul, Kobe Bryant AP

It’s a crucial year for the Hornets. Chris Paul can opt out of his contract with New Orleans after this season, and it goes without saying that the franchise would be devastated if Paul left the team. Here are a few ways that the Hornets can build on their spirited first-round performance against the Lakers last season:

- Get Healthy:

After battling injuries for the better part of two regular seasons and seeing his PER drop from 30 in 08-09 to 23.75 in 09-10 and 10-11, Chris Paul used the first round of the playoffs to show everybody that when CP3 is on his game, he’s as good as anybody in the league. Paul is almost unquestionably the league’s best ballhandler and one of its best passers, and he’s turned himself into one of the league’s best outside shooters as well.

If his knees can stay healthy for a full season, he could give the Hornets a fighting chance at getting into the playoffs and winning a series or two all by himself. He’s that good.

David West is CP3′s sidekick on the court, but a torn ACL suffered late in the year kept him out of the playoffs and could cause him to miss a significant portion of this season. If Paul and West both have healthy knees coming into the playoffs, the Hornets could make some noise. If they don’t, it’s hard to envision them as serious contenders.

- Get Players:

It’s not a state secret that the Hornets’ roster is incredibly thin. Outside of Paul, Jarrett Jack, Emeka Okafor, West, and Trevor Ariza, the Hornets don’t have much, and the team desperately needs to stock the roster with some quality role players and veterans (in other words, not Marco Belinelli), who can knock down the open shots that Paul creates and play some defense.

- Stay Defensive:

The secret of the Hornets’ return to the playoffs was their improved defense. Under Monty Williams, the Hornets were a top-10 team in defensive efficiency last season. If the Hornets can maintain their commitment to defense and become the best defensive team in the Western conference (only the Lakers and Mavericks had a higher defensive efficiency in the West than the Hornets did last season), and simply let a healthy CP3 do his thing on offense, they could end up being a very tough out in the playoffs.

  1. trbowman - Sep 22, 2011 at 8:03 PM

    They’ll make the playoffs as an 8th or 7th seed, get swept, Paul will leave, Hornets fans will cry, team will bottom out and that’s what will happen.

    • 00maltliquor - Sep 22, 2011 at 9:30 PM

      It’s like you can see the future! Miss Cleo, is that you?

  2. opotowsky - Sep 26, 2011 at 6:09 PM

    im not sure why you have david west listed as a hornets player. he opted out of his contract before the july 1 deadline. as soon as a new cba is agreed upon, david west becomes a free agent. i know it doesnt mean he wont be a hornet, but he is not one of the players listed on the hornets roster, post lockout. the only ones are chris paul, trevor ariza, jarrett jack, emeka okafour, quincy pondexter and marco belinelli (as a restricted free-agent). just wanted to make sure people, and you (john krolik) know that david west is not on the 2011-12 new orleans hornets roster.

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