It's All In The Game: Sting Like A Hornet

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…that’s 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 Utah’s

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.

Don’t 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 Chandler’s 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

to debate.

West Starters (already


C- Yao Ming

F – Tim Duncan

F – Carmelo Anthony

G – Kobe


G – Allen Iverson

West Reserves

C – Marcus Camby

F – Carlos Boozer

F – Dirk Nowitzki

G – Brandon Roy

G – Steve Nash

G - Chris Paul

F – Amare Stoudemire

East Starters

(already determined)

C – Dwight Howard

F – Kevin Garnett

F - LeBron James

G - Dwyane Wade

G – Jason Kidd

East Reserves

C – Zydrunas Ilgauskas

F – Chris Bosh

F – Paul Pierce

G – Joe Johnson

G – Chauncey Billups

F – Antawn Jamison

F – Gerald Wallace