Okay, be honest. By a show of hands, who thought the New
Orleans Hornets would hold the best record in the West by the mid-point of the
Anyone? Yeah thats what I thought.
In a loaded Western Conference, somehow the boys from the
bayou have exceeded expectations. Just like the other surprise team out west,
the Blazers, the Hornets success can be attributed to excellent coaching as
well as young players rising to the occasion.
Props to coach Byron Scott, who has created a winning
atmosphere with his no-nonsense approach. He has done a great job surrounding
himself with players with good attitudes, as well as ridding himself of players
with poor attitudes (J.R. Smith and Kirk Snyder).
On the court, the team is led by franchise player Chris
Paul. Along with Utahs
Deron Williams – those two are the point guards of today as well as the future.
Paul is averaging some incredible numbers this season (20.6 ppg and 10.5 apg)
and is a lock to represent the hometown in the All Star Game, which will be in
the N-O. Fourth year, small forward David West is also enjoying a solid season
averaging just under 20 points and 10 rebounds per game.
But as well as CP3 and D-West have played, no question the
X-factor has been the play of big man Tyson Chandler. The rail-thin center out
of Compton has
been putting up big-time numbers averaging 12 points, and 12 boards while
shooting 60 percent from the floor. He
has clearly flourished under New
Orleans system and is looking like the player Chicago
thought they were getting when they drafted him second overall out of high
school in the 01 Draft.
Dont forget, Chandler
went through some rough seasons in Chicago
particularly under coach Scott Skiles. The recently canned Bulls coach was
especially tough and critical of Tyson. After Chandlers last season with
Chicago in 2005-06, Chandler just averaged five points and five boards per
game. It was obvious his confidence was down, and he was looking no better than
a second string center. Now, Tyson is a legitimate All Star candidate
although it is more likely Marcus Camby will get the nod over Tyson.
Speaking of All Star picks, the reserves are announced on
Thursday. I took the liberty of picking my own All Star selections. It is hard
to define what an All Star really is. I tried to reward players that are
putting up numbers while helping their teams win. This was tough, especially
when I had to pick Western Conference guards.
Between Tony Parker, D-Williams, Paul, Nash and Baron who
gets left out? Also does Shaq get the nod? Anyway here are my picks, feel free
West Starters (already
C- Yao Ming
F Tim Duncan
F Carmelo Anthony
G Allen Iverson
C Marcus Camby
F Carlos Boozer
F Dirk Nowitzki
G Brandon Roy
G Steve Nash
G – Chris Paul
F Amare Stoudemire
C Dwight Howard
F Kevin Garnett
F – LeBron James
G – Dwyane Wade
G Jason Kidd
C Zydrunas Ilgauskas
F Chris Bosh
F Paul Pierce
G Joe Johnson
G Chauncey Billups
F Antawn Jamison
F Gerald Wallace