Tanking advocates, rejoice. The Hornets finished last night's game with Jerome Dyson and Darryl Watkins and promptly scored 6 points in the fourth quarter en route to an 84-77 loss to the rival Houston Rockets. It was definitely a rough season all around (one that saw 28 different starting line-ups and 22 different players wear the Hornets jersey), but it's still sad for it to be over. Even if the team is awful, you still develop a fondness for certain players on the roster and wish that you could see them compete more and watch them continue to grow. In that sense, I really do miss the 82 game season. But at least we got basketball as it is and it looks to be an exciting off season for the Hornets franchise. The team finally has stability at ownership for what seems like the first time since 2009. Dell Demps and Monty Williams finally get a chance to build the team in the image that they want (depending on if Eric Gordon stays or not) and don't have to worry about outside factors such as the ownership situation or the Chris Paul rumors altering their decision making. It should be a lot of fun.
And although I made light of Jerome Dyson and Darryl Watkins, it's always nice to see guys play the game so hard due to the fact that they have no guaranteed future in the league. It's what made me root for someone like Squeaky Johnson at the beginning of the year. Sure, they're not the most talented bunch and, of course, it's very unlikely that they turn into consistent rotation players for the Hornets. But it's nice to see players get their feet wet in the league and try and make a name for themselves.
Of course, that's all a consolation. No matter what we tell ourselves, we wish Chris Paul was still here. Not due to any infatuation with him, but because we wish the team was in the postseason again. It's nice to look to the future, but it's better (at least in the moment) to enjoy a victory. Listening to everybody talk about how great it was to watch the team lose to "improve draft stock" over the season really gave me a headache. It was difficult to stomach seeing the Hornets lose close games to good teams only to show up here and see people say "well, at least they didn't blow the draft position." Of course, there's extreme merit in what they're saying though. If you're going to endure a losing season, you'd like to see it result in some kind of reward at the end of the year. And as it stood, the Hornets gave us a glimpse of what could happen next year with an 8-5 record in April and still finished tied for the third worst record in the league. So, I guess, everyone got what they wanted. But don't, for one second, think that the season was considered even a mild success for the franchise. The best way to sum up the year is some words from Monty Williams.
"I knew coming in when I heard all of the speculation with Chris Paul that it wasn’t going to be a ‘normal’ two years," said Williams, harkening back to the previous offseason when rumblings of an impending Paul exit began. "I didn’t want to admit that and tried not to say it. But when I took on the job, I kind of knew that. What happened in December only solidified that.
"It’s one thing to hear the forecast. But to feel the rain, it’s a different deal. When we got to December, I felt the rain. And it was one of those deals that I realized, ‘This is going to be a tough year.’ "
"Some older guys taught me a long time ago, if you’re teaching, then you’re not winning," Williams said. "You’re only winning if you’re coaching. I felt we had to teach a lot this year, and that took away from our ability to win close games.
"Lately, I’ve felt we’ve been coaching a lot more, reminding guys as opposed to showing them the whole deal. That was the tough part: having to teach every day."
"I told our guys: `If you feel relieved right now, then you're not the kind of guys that I want to be around,"' coach Monty Williams said. "I really enjoyed being in the playoffs last year. It's a little tough right now."
Coming in the next few days (probably starting later today), I'd like to keep things as active as I possibly can with my job and with finals coming up. But I plan on talking NBA with the rest of you over the season; not just Hornets basketball. I want to put up a first round preview where everyone can lend their predictions as well. I want to do a player by player evaluation on the season and end it with what you guys want to see going forward for each player. And I want to get excited about the draft and the off season. Hope to see you guys around. And if this is the last season for the Hornets name, I know that I won't forget it!