It's the dawning of a new era in New Orleans basketball, and with so much attention paid to matters off the court this season, I believe it's time to evaluate how our franchise performed during its time on the court. As a result, I want to begin an evaluation of the front office, the roster and the coaching staff and see how they performed, what could happen going forward, and whether or not you approve of their job this season. Without further adieu, the next player we're going to look at is Chris Kaman.
Ninth season in the league (first with the Hornets) out of Central Michigan University (Unrestricted Free Agent)
47 Games, 33 Starts, 13.1 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 2.1 APG, 1.6 BPG, 78.5 FT Pctg., 44.6 FG Pctg., 15.4 PER, 91 Offensive Rating, 102 Defensive Rating
Best Game this Season: April 7th vs. Minnesota (21 Points, 10 Rebounds, 4 Assists, 4 Blocks, 1 Steal in 31 Minutes during a 99-90 victory)
Chris Kaman is an enigmatic topic amongst Hornets fans as it relates to this season. He was frequently the topic of conversation and was so while rarely having his on court game discussed. Kaman's always been a bit of a weird fellow in his interviews but has always had an inconsistent on court game. That didn't particularly change coming into this season. He was shown disliking King Cake, dressing his dog up in Saints gear, holding up dead Bobcats all the while being sent home because a trade was coming, being the most likely person to be traded, given the reigns of a very bad offensive team and all the while actually playing pretty good for the Hornets on the court.
Of course, when anyone talks about Kaman this year, the discussion begins and ends with the very weird situation that came out of his prospects of being traded. As everyone now knows, Kaman was sent home at the end of January as the Hornets worked out a trade that was going to send his very large expiring contract to another team. A couple of weeks later, Kaman was brought back to the team due to an inability to find a trade in a very embarrassing situation. Emeka Okafor went out due to injury and Kaman then became the starting center for the Hornets the rest of the way until he, himself suffered a tibia injury and didn't play the last two weeks of the regular season.
And when you discuss Kaman's on court play, it's pretty good. His offensive efficiency isn't good at all and that fact was exacerbated by the team's lack of options around him; which forced Kaman to score the second highest usage rate of his career. Coupled with his second lowest offensive rating of his career, Kaman didn't necessarily dominate in his time on the court anymore than Okafor did but showed a better offensive touch, was able to alter more shots on the defensive end and actually developed into a great passer.
Kaman's passing was never really put on display with the Clippers; at least not at the rate it was in New Orleans. But he posted a career high assist% and ranked in the top ten of starting centers in that department as well. The team was able to run pick and pop with Kaman and, while he shot a career low true and efficiency field goal%, he was still able to be a focal point of the offense with his passing.
Kaman's an interesting player going forward. I think it's safe to say that he and Okafor probably can't coexist together. Their time on the court at the same time was not pretty and I think we've all seen enough of that experiment. Okafor, also, is under contract next season. However, Okafor is a likely candidate to be amnestied and Kaman seemed to enjoy his time in New Orleans. It's very well possible that Kaman could be resigned to be the team's starting center and it's also likely that he could have played his last game in New Orleans. He's another interesting player to watch going forward.