Hornets roster: To have and hive not

5-on-5: With superstar Chris Paul out of town, will the Hornets have any buzz left?

Originally Published: December 22, 2011
ESPN.com and the TrueHoop Network

Al-Faroug Aminu, Eric Gordon, Chris KamanNBA Photos/Getty ImagesGetting comfortable in their new home is next for Al-Faroug Aminu, Eric Gordon and Chris Kaman.
What happens to the NBA-owned New Orleans Hornets in their first season post-Chris Paul?

ESPN.com's John Hollinger analyzed each player on the new-look Hornets. Now our 5-on-5 team chimes in:


1. For which Hornets player is the 2011-12 season most important?


J.A. Adande, ESPN.com: Chris Kaman. All anyone has talked about since the trade is the value of his expiring contract to the Hornets. But for Kaman it means he has to hit free agency next summer. If he can get back to the 18-point, nine-rebound averages he posted in 2009-10 there's a lot of money to be had. (Then again, there's good money for big men who can post half those numbers in a big man-starved league).

Joe Gerrity, Hornets 24-7: Marco Belinelli. Last season, Belli showed flashes of brilliance while shooting and the ability to hold his own on D. Unfortunately, by the end of the season he looked less and less useful on both ends. Playing on a qualifying offer, his performance is sure to impact his future pay.

John Krolik, Cavs, The Blog: I'm going to go with the obvious choice of Eric Gordon. Gordon excels on straight-line drives and spot-up jumpers, but now he'll have to create more shots for himself and others than before.

Michael McNamara, Hornets 24-7: Newly acquired shooting guard Gordon. He had one of the most efficient seasons ever for a 22-year-old and is on the short list of guys who could make "The Leap" this season. It also doesn't hurt that a big season could mean a max contract as he enters restricted free agency in the summer of 2012.

Ryan Schwan, Hornets 24-7: With the season basically reaching "throw away" status, it would have to be Trevor Ariza. Can he elevate his offensive game from absolutely atrocious to moderately terrible? If so, then he could be a starter for a decent team somewhere.


2. Who is the most intriguing player on the Hornets' roster?


J.A. Adande, ESPN.com: Al-Farouq Aminu. There's something there, I'm just not sure what. If he can be more consistent with his jumper and then exercise better judgment on when to take it, he'll be a guy who can stay on the floor for a lot minutes.

Joe Gerrity, Hornets 24-7: Gordon. In my mind he could have a breakout year or he could get lazy and turn into a chucker. On the defensive end, Monty Williams will surely show us what Gordon is capable of, both good and bad.

John Krolik, Cavs, The Blog: Ariza. It's looking more and more like Ariza parlayed one hot-shooting playoff run into a laughably bad contract. He needs a bounce-back season.

Michael McNamara, Hornets 24-7: Ariza is an enigma wrapped up in a Turducken. The good news for the Hornets, though, is that when you look at the stretches when Ariza has been relatively consistent in both Houston and L.A., it has been when he shared the wing with a high-scoring shooting guard.

Ryan Schwan, Hornets 24-7: That would have to be Emeka Okafor -- though it has nothing to do with his game, since that's well established and isn't going to change. No, the intrigue revolves around whether the Hornets will move him now and get any assets for him in a full-on rebuilding process.


3. What's the most surprising take in Hollinger's Hornets profiles?


J.A. Adande, ESPN.com: That Ariza was the worst isolation player in the league, statistically. I knew he tried to be more aggressive offensively after he left the Lakers. I just didn't know the numbers said he was so bad at it.

Joe Gerrity, Hornets 24-7: I am flat-out dumbfounded to hear that Hollinger doesn't think Ariza has good shot selection. I probably saw him take 434 3-pointers and long 2-pointers last season, and every single one was a better decision than the last.

John Krolik, Cavs, The Blog: Even though CP3 is gone, I was surprised his "assist value" was so low, which was a reflection of how poorly the rest of the Hornets were cutting to the rim and spacing the floor.

Michael McNamara, Hornets 24-7: Having followed the Hornets for quite a few years, I was surprised to find out that anybody could have a higher turnover rate than Julian Wright, but as Hollinger points out, Aminu had the distinct honor of leading wing players in turnover ratio. Hopefully Monty Williams, a former small forward himself, can cure him of the JuJu plague.

Ryan Schwan, Hornets 24-7: Jarrett Jack's defensive flammability at the 1. I had always preferred seeing him at the 2 last season, giving the Hornets their best five on the court -- but I hadn't realized just how poor he was at checking opposing point guards.


4. Based on Hollinger's profiles, what do the Hornets need most?


J.A. Adande, ESPN.com: Should be obvious: a point guard. And if he could happen to be a franchise player, that would help too.

Joe Gerrity, Hornets 24-7: Size. Hollinger points out that both Carl Landry and Okafor are lacking in that department. That's enough to make life tough for any defensive-minded coach, but the backcourt may be just as much of an issue. Jack and Gordon both stand at only 6-foot-3. Who defends the big shooting guards?

John Krolik, Cavs, The Blog: Playmaking. The Hornets weren't a great passing team overall last season, and they just traded the best passer in the league for guys who have trouble creating shots.

Michael McNamara, Hornets 24-7: Paul. Ironically, the type of players that the Hornets acquired for Paul are the exact type of guys they needed to fill the roster out with when he was here. Now, these guys will all have to rely on Jarrett Jack to get them the ball in the right spots and if Jack could do that night in and night out, the Raptors wouldn't have just given him away.

Ryan Schwan, Hornets 24-7: Let's be honest. This team is going to be in a fixed position this season. So I'd vote for lots and lots of losses to get a nice top-four pick.


5. Will a shortened season help or hurt the Hornets?


J.A. Adande, ESPN.com: Help. There's not much to be gained for the Hornets this season, so might as well get it over with as soon as possible.

Joe Gerrity, Hornets 24-7: Help, but not on the court. Normally football kills their attendance early on, but also refunds from missed games are being deposited right back into most season-ticket-holder accounts. From talking to ticket reps, few things are more correlated to renewal rate than a client having a positive account balance.

John Krolik, Cavs, The Blog: Help. Remember how the Cavs used a burst of "we don't need LeBron" energy into an opening-night win over Boston? The shorter season gives the Hornets less time to regress to the mean.

Michael McNamara, Hornets 24-7: Depends on what we consider help. In the wins column -- hurt. To acquire more pingpong ball combinations -- help. It is going to be hard for Coach Williams to get the new guys to understand his systems with such a short training camp. But long term that might be best for the Hornets if they can secure a stud power forward or center in the 2012 draft.

Ryan Schwan, Hornets 24-7: It will absolutely help the Hornets. When a team isn't competing, it becomes really hard to sell out those late-season tickets. This way, the pain is cut short.