New Orleans Hornets 2012-2013 Season Preview

Brian Roberts, skydiver - Jerome Miron-US PRESSWIRE

Season's greetings (lol)

Team Name: N'awlins Hornets

Last Year's Record: 21-45 (which is... 26-56 I think?)

Key Losses: The 2011-2012 New Orleans Hornets: Jarrett Jack, Marco Belinelli, Trevor Ariza, Carl Landry, Gustavo Ayon Emeka Okafor, Chris Kaman, Rashard Lewis: Poltergeist

Key Additions: Anthony Davis, Robin Lopez, Ryan Anderson, Brian Roberts, a year long renewal of all "how u"-related humor, Darius Miller, and, yes, Austin Rivers

1. What Significant Moves were made during the off-season?

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Other than that, the Hornets managed to get rid of basically their entire team, from starting point guard to starting shooting guard to starting small forward to starting power forward to backup/often starting power forward to starting center to backup/often starting center.

The one player they did keep was Eric Gordon, whose heart was once in Phoenix and whose knees probably wish the rest of his body hadn't left. There is rapidly accelerating cynicism surrounding Gordon at the start of the season, and it is unclear whether said cynicism/swelling of knees will abate any time soon. Ugh, knees.

The Hornets did go out and make a really smart deal for Ryan Anderson, though they lost fan favorite and overall excellent basketball player/human being Gustavo Ayon. They also signed and traded for Robin Lopez, though the jury will be out a lot longer on that deal since juror #4 just had go to that new ice cream place down the street with the weird flavors and now he has mayonnaise all over his pants. Ugh.

Oh also, the drafting of Austin Rivers happened, which went from "please don't let this be a thing" to "welp" to "what is this I don't even" at an alarming pace.

Previewing the Hornets

At The Hive

ZILLER: THE HOOK

PRADA: HORNETS BUILT THE RIGHT WAY

AT THE HIVE: COMPLETE 2013 SEASON PREVIEW

2. What are the team's biggest strengths?

I'm going to say "none," but I actually don't mean that in a cynical sense. The Hornets could be a good rebounding team (Anderson's great historically, Davis has been great in preseason and collegiately, and Monty Williams' teams have controlled the defensive glass). They could be good at defense (again, Davis and a healthy Gordon's one of the league's best). They could put their plus size to great use.

Thing is we just don't know if any of that will happen right now. In the preseason? It sure as hell hasn't. The team has looked disorganized and disorderly for almost two weeks now. Blown assignments here, some missed boards there; many of the theoretical strengths have looked like legitimate weaknesses.

So I'll cop out of pointing out a real on-court strength, and instead lean towards the team's positional versatility. Anthony Davis can play three positions. Ryan Anderson can (less effectively) play three positions. Nobody really knows what Austin Rivers' position is. Eric Gordon can man both the point (where he played a good percentage of his minutes last year) and the two. And Darius Miller has surprised me in preseason with his swingman skills.

The Hornets have gone all in and embraced a lack of strict positionality across the roster, and for a coach as defensively innovative as Monty Williams, I'll write it up as a positive for now.

3. What are the team's biggest weaknesses?

Point guard. Greivis Vasquez has played rather poorly in preseason, and nobody was getting terrified of a Vasquez/Brian Roberts pairing to begin with. The turnovers have led to a ridiculous amount of opponent fast breaks thus far, and so I guess "fast breaks" could technically be another weakness. But, eh, it's really the same thing.

The point guard weakness shows itself throughout the offense. Without Gordon, there's nobody to take control of the ball. Forget the "who gets the ball with the game on the line" arguments with the Hornets; we're still arguing about who gets the ball on the first possession of the first quarter.

4. What are the goals for this team?

82*. Let's be honest, that should be the goal for every single team in the league, and anyone that doesn't agree is a loser.

*points in a single game. Just one time. Please?

5. You seem to have evaded most of the questions here

Okay, true, and I'll admit that I feel I know less about this Hornets roster than any I've ever blogged about. Last year featured a ton of unknowns too, but there was a reassuring cosmic microwave background of crap stretching in all directions to infinity. This year, the players are young, the talent is unique, and there's real actual hope for the future.

Here's the thing: the 2012-2013 New Orleans Hornets are an extremely fun team without any expectations. This is rare in sports. The teams that people like to watch are expected to be good; the teams that people don't are not. Obviously. It's rare that you can spot a team that's probably going to be good soon (maybe really really good), that's already legitimately fun to watch, but that also isn't going to disappoint you tremendously for not hitting preset preseason benchmarks.

It's rare to find a team that will provide so much entertainment -- the shooting of Ryan Anderson, the offensive and defensive growth of maybe the most gifted prospect in basketball since LeBron James, the overall game of Eric Gordon, heck even, I'll admit it, Austin Rivers' driving game -- that also won't make us lose too much sleep if, for the time being, it falls flat on its collective face.

And so off we go. Go Davis. Go Rivers. Go Hornets. I love you all.

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