Hornets' 2010 Offseason Needs

Let's take a short break from the management/owner/coaching/oh-crap-we-might-get-Mark-Jackson situation and look at player personnel. 

A glimpse at where the Hornets fell short, statistically, in 2009-2010.

 

Hornets

League

Offensive Efficiency

107.4 (18th)

107.6

Shooting (eFG%)

50.6% (12th)

50.1%

Ball Control (TOV%)

12.7% (8th)

13.3%

Drawing Fouls (FT/FG)

18.9% (29th)

22.8%

Rebounding (ORB%)

24.8% (23rd)

26.3%

Defensive Efficiency

110.1 (21st)

107.6

Shooting (eFG%)

52.5% (26th)

50.1%

Ball Control (Tov%)

13.5% (13th)

13.3%

Fouling (FT/FG)

20.5% (4th)

22.8%

Rebounding (DRB%)

73.8% (13th)

73.7%

The Hornets performed decently in three defensive categories- fouling, forcing turnovers, and rebounding- but failed miserably in the fourth, allowed field goal percentage. Offensively, they struggled to rebound and draw fouls. Defensively, they failed to defend shooters. The return of Chris Paul will presumably drive up shooting percentages and lower turnover rates and assist foul drawing to an extent; the team will need to improve drastically at other positions, however.

What kind of players draw fouls? Ones that are good at offense. What kind of players drive down opposing field goal percentages? Ones that are good at defense. 

Basically, breaking down the Hornets deficiencies statistically does little to narrow down positional needs. Sure, it tells us that the team could use a bruising rebounder in the draft, but positional analysis yields far more specific results.

Onward! 

Point Guard

Signed Long Term: Chris Paul ('13), Darren Collison ('14)

With the emergence of Darren Collison in 09-10, the Hornets' backup point guard issues of last off-season have been turned on their collective head. 

Collison stated his case as a starter-quality point guard in the NBA, something not too many rookies do. And with Chris Paul hopefully returning to full health next season, the Hornets should be perfectly fine at lead guard. Whether the Hornets look to retain Dimes or seek to move him, they have a very good problem on their hands- too much talent at a single position. 

The Hornets may look to add a third point guard as insurance, but it will likely happen only after other roster spots are filled. Draft-wise, the Hornets are a lock to steer clear of the position.

Wing

Signed Long Term: Marcus Thornton ('11, probably extended)

Signed Short Term: Morris Peterson ('11)

Marcus Thornton proved that he'll be a quality scorer in the NBA for years to come. While he doesn't provide size, he does provide creativity on offense, with the ball in his hands and away from the ball. 

The Hornets could certainly use a taller player on the wings though, with Morris Peterson certain to move on next summer. Shooting guard won't be the most pressing concern, but if the Hornets can improbably luck into a high draft pick or find a suitable trading partner/free agent over the summer, shooting guard wouldn't be a terrible position to pick up.

Forward

Signed Long Term: Julian Wright ('12), James Posey ('12)

Signed Short Term: Peja Stojakovic ('11), Darius Songaila ('11)

The Hornets' most anticipated expiring contract of the last few years- Peja's- comes off the books next summer. Julian Wright may still pan out, but as of now, things certainly look dubious. Darius Songaila made a significant contribution this season, and I wouldn't put it past him to repeat it in 2010-2011, but he likely doesn't figure in the team's future. And though James Posey is under contract for two more years, he can't possibly have a place in the team's long term plans.

All those factors make forward very much a need position. Arguably the need position. The Hornets at last addressed the need for a creative scorer last year with Thornton; it allows them to focus on more complete players, possibly emphasizing defense, at small forward. 

Personally, I recommend drafting Evan Turner or signing LeBron James, but maybe that's just my Ohio bias showing through. 

Front Court

Signed Long Term: Emeka Okafor ('14), David West ('12)

Signed Short Term: Nobody?

The Hornets could potentially retain one of Aaron Gray, Sean Marks, or Ike Diogu going into next year (I, for one, wouldn't mind seeing Gray return). But any way it's sliced, the team lacks depth in the front court, especially given David West's declining rebounding figures.

The Hornets can certainly address their rebounding issues through their lottery selection. The presence of Chris Paul, Darren Collison, Marcus Thornton, and David West on the roster implies that the Hornets don't need a scoring big man, necessarily. 

For what seems like the tenth straight summer, the Hornets head into the offseason seeking a paint bruiser and rebounder. Will this be the year we finally get one? 

********************

Overall, forward and front court must be considered the two need positions; whether the Hornets fill those voids through the draft, free agency, or trade remains to be seen. 

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