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The Rebuilt New Orleans Hornets Return to NBA Action: Season Preview

Maybe you’ve heard we have an exciting rookie or two. Maybe the Saints’ disappointing start has left a hole in your heart. Maybe you have faith in Tom Benson’s steady leadership.


Whatever the reason, you’ve suddenly realized now is the time to start following the New Orleans Hornets. Well, your timing couldn’t possibly be any better. For the first time since Chris Paul skipped town, our basketball team is giving us a whole lot to be optimistic about when the Hornets kick off their season against the San Antonio Spurs with a Halloween extravaganza tonight (7 p.m., New Orleans Arena).


With this city’s newfound enthusiasm in mind, NoDef has prepared a quick crash course to help the city get ready for the season.


The first thing you should know is that this kid named Anthony Davis fell in New Orleans’ collective lap. The Hornets possessed only a 14 percent chance of landing the first pick in the 2012 draft, but the ping pong balls bounced our way this time. Davis is 6’11”, unibrowed, and completely unique. Scouts drool over him. NBA veterans love him. He was the only rookie to make the USA Olympic Team. He’s really good, and should only get better with time. Here’s how At The Hive summed him up back in May:


He's been called the most impressive defensive college prospect in multiple decades, labeled "one of the most physically gifted players on this planet at the moment," with "the potential to not only star at the next level, but set off a chain reaction of new ideas." He steals from guards on the perimeter, blocks forwards in mid-range, and erases just about every attempt around the rim. He tip slams, he crosses over, he shoots threes.


Oh yeah, and Saints owner Tom Benson bought the team — providing stable, agreeable ownership for the first time since the franchise moved to New Orleans.


Benson’s first act was to sign our brilliant young coach, Monty Williams, to a four-year extension. We also happen to have a totally competent general manager in Dell Demps. And, after a season of wondering if the team would still be in the Crescent City, our finances are in order. That means Demps will have the flexibility to continue improving the team in coming years.


What else? We have an intriguing, albeit raw, rookie in Austin Rivers. We signed Ryan Anderson, last year’s Most Improved Player for $36 million — a bargain, depending on who you ask.


The lone dark spot on our sunny horizon may be Eric Gordon, the centerpiece of the Hornets’ haul in the infamous Chris Paul trade. He’s only 23-years-old and is one of five shooting guards in the entire league who can score 20+ points at will. Sounds great. The only problems are (a) he’s seemingly always injured; (b) he was very public in his desire to not be in New Orleans this summer; and (c) we gave him $58 million anyway. Whoops.


Beyond this core four, we have a young, uneven squad. There are plenty of reasons for optimism (Greivis Vasquez could be a solid starting point guard if he can cut down on his turnovers; Al-Farouq Aminu will be a great rotation player once he can nail that jumper), but the truth is this team is a work in progress.


Where does this leave us? The consensus seems to be that we’re probably not playoff material just yet. That said, the sky is the limit with this much young talent in tow.


Oh yeah, and Benson is probably changing the team name soon.


Until then: GO HORNETS!


Kerem Ozkan will be buzzing around the Hornets all season long, and writing up what he sees for NOLA Defender. Follow him on Twitter at @HornetsDefender.

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