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First up for our Cavaliers are the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets. Nick Evans from NBA.draft.net provides us with a preview:
“After everything this organization has dealt with in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, it seems a bit crass to analyze how the New Orleans Hornets will perform this season. But they have 82 games in front of them and a roster of handsomely paid professionals, so let’s take a look at how they might do.
Obviously, the Hornets will be unable to play any games in New Orleans this season, so the NBA has made Oklahoma City its unofficial home. This means that the Hornets, a team already expected to struggle in 2005-06, will have 82 road games this season. Not exactly the best way to begin the roster rebuilding process.
However, there are reasons for optimism for Hornets’ fans this season. Chris Paul fell to them at the fourth pick of last year’s draft, and he’s expected to contend for the Rookie of the Year award. He’s one of the most NBA-ready point guards to enter the league in quite some time, and he’ll have plenty of minutes to learn on the job. He’s a little undersized, but he’s a born playmaker with multiple All-Star games in his future.
Teaming up with Paul in the backcourt of the future will be J.R. Smith. He had an up-and-down rookie season, but that’s to be expected from any 19-year-old kid not named LeBron. At his best, he showed flashes of being a superstar in the making. Few players possess Smith’s athleticism and long-range shooting skills. Watch for the Paul/Smith tandem in a couple years. They could be something special. Backing up Smith at the 2-guard spot will be Arvydas Macijauskas. The Lithuanian sharpshooter will prove to be a valuable addition to a team desperate for all the scorers they can find.
Longtime NBA veteran PJ Brown will hold down the fort at power forward. He had a better-than-most-people-realized season in 2004-05, even garnering a 5th place vote in the MVP ballot. In a related story, he had the worst season of anyone who ever received a vote in the MVP ballot. Expect him to put up another 12 point, 8-9 rebound season and possibly get mentioned in a few deadline-day trade rumors. His backup will be oft-injured, but promising Xavier star David West. I’m granting West bona fide sleeper status. If you’re running a fantasy team, keep West on your radar in case some of your guys get hurt. ” For a full view of the story CLICK HERE.