Q&A with Hornets247.com

With another Rockets/Hornets game coming up Dave and I got together with the guys over at Hornets247.com for a little Q&A. Ryan answered a lot of questions and got Ron to answer a few as well.

1) What does it feel like knowing you have the best point guard in the league and that you effectively stole him when Atlanta didn't pick him?

He is my precious jewel, and I shall sit at his feet and gaze at him in wonder. Seriously, Paul is awesome and about as likeable a star as I've ever seen. Pick any interview with him, and he never talks about himself. At all. He always brings up his teammates or his coach, and talks about how great they are. On the floor he's as fiery a competitor as any I've seen, and he also works on his game all the time, and improves every summer. I'm convinced next year he'll have figured out a way to grow four inches and crap gold that posesses the magic power to sign players while ignoring the Salary Cap and Luxury Tax.

2)The Hornets have backslid a slight bit from their previous perch at the top of the Western Conference standings. What do you feel is the reason for this? Are they just still young and prone to losing a few silly games, like twice to Washington? Or was it just a lull in the season and you expect them to take their spot back by the end?

Their hold on the 1st seed was never that ironclad. The largest lead they ever had was only one game. I don't think they'll regain the top spot. Since the All-Star game, you can tell teams are gameplanning for them a lot more now - particularly David West - and though they are still a great team, I'm not sure they'll be able to keep the pace they had early in the season. The let down games against the Wizards were ugly, yes, but The Hornets are 24-5 against teams with losing records this year. Those games happen, and I can live with those results.

3) Here's the rest of your season, how do you see it playing out? And wow, y'all really have it relatively easy the rest of the way. 11 tough games, but 6 of them at home and 10 games that should be no-brainer wins.

There is no way I'd call the rest of March easy. 11 games in 22 nights. Eight of those games against the Lakers, Houston x2, Detroit, Boston x2, San Antonio and Cleveland? In April it eases off, but the rest of March will be tough. That said, I'm thinking we go 14-7 or 15-6 and end with 56-57 wins.

4) Are you from New Orleans, do you live there? What do you see as a way to get crowds out to games more regularly? I like the idea of a team in Nawlins and can't stand the idea of Oklahoma having one. I just can't bring myself to believe they can support something Louisiana can't. The NBA seems dedicated to the area, but no attendance will change that in a heartbeat.

I don't live in New Orleans, unfortunately. I live in Richmond, VA. My co-writer, Ron Hitley, moved to the city about three months ago and he's the one who gets to go to all the after game parties, All-star Shindigs, hang out with(and apparently hug) the Honeybee cheerleaders, play video games with Chris Paul, and shine GM Jeff Bower's hairless head. I'm not bitter or anything. As for bringing more crowds in? That's already starting. The All-Star game was great advertising, and football season, which is huge in New Orleans, is over. Due to the need to work out draft prospects in Oklahoma(the facilities weren't yet available in New Orleans) the Hornets were a little late in getting back to New Orleans from OKC in the offseason so their marketing pushes started late. They also had to fight a mountain of negative national media that claimed the Hornets could never make a go of it in Louisiana. Nonetheless, they've climbed up four spots over the last two months from dead last in attendance, and have sold out four of the last seven games. I think New Orleans is starting to embrace them, and they'll be fine.

5) What is your final prediction for the Western Conference seeding?

Man. That's tough, they are packed in at the top like sardines. Still, here's my guess.
1. Lakers
2. San Antonio
3. New Orleans
4. Utah
5. Houston(better record than Utah)
6. Dallas
7. Golden State
8. Denver(I don't like Denver, but I think Phoenix is done.)

6) Next year I'm going to find a way to see a Rockets/Hornets game in New Orleans, what do I need to do when I'm there this go round? I've been a dozen or so times, so the normal tourist stuff is out for me, I'm looking more for something new to the town.

I got Ron Hitley to answer this question for you, since I don't live there:
I've only been living here for three months, so it's all new to me and I haven't even come close to experiencing everything. Also, I've had little chance to do the day-time tourism stuff (damn you, day job!), so most of my sight-seeing comes after dark. My normal routine after a Hornets game is to drop by Gordon Biersch (near the casino) to have a few brews and listen to the post-game radio show that's broadcast from there. Usually a good atmosphere and the food is great, too. Beyond that we usually move on to bars like Lucy's, Masquerade or the Balcony further uptown. I like the French Quarter every now and then but try to stick to places with more of a local crowd. If you're killing time during the day, you could do worse than heading uptown along St. Charles and/or Magazine to see what you can see. River side of St. Charles especially is pretty safe and there's a ton of great bars, restaurants and stores around there. I hear Audubon Park is nice with the scenery, joggy people and zoo, but I haven't caught much of that. I've found though that the best thing about New Orleans is the random cool people you run into, so get out and get talking to folks however you can. Not having a plan and going with the flow generally results in a good time.

7) How did David West get so awesome... and how did so many teams pass on him in the draft?
(Note: This is Dave's question because I have a mad man crush on West and knew the NBA screwed up in passing him over so much - Lee)

They passed him because he is a little undersized for his position - and his offensive game in college was more predicated on punishing players down low with good footwork and post moves than the versatile offensive game he shows today. Smaller power forwards reliant on post ups usually don't pan out that well in the NBA. He's an All-Star now by relentlessly working on his game. His rookie year he was an unremarkable, slightly undersized banger, reliant on rebounding, putbacks, and a rare 10-footer. His second year, he got injured and sat out 52 games - and spent that time shooting, shooting, shooting. His third year, he was a pick and pop player almost exclusively. No dribbling. No post up moves. He just floated to a point and shot it off the pass from Paul. Last year, he added an effective three-dribble drive from the high post and lefty hook to his game. This year, he's started going back into the post, and has developed a solid fadeaway while displaying that he never forgot the footwork he learned in college. Having all those options allows him to counter anything he comes across. If strong players like Boozer, Duncan or Bynum are guarding him, he takes them out to 17 feet and shoots over them or drives by. If they are his size or smaller, he takes them into the post and works them over. Now he just needs to learn to handle double teams a little better.

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