I said a few days ago that this Hornets team was definitely not as good as last year's team and was not a top-tier team. However, now I'm asking myself, have the Hornets of 08-09 really had the opportunity to be? I downplayed the absence of Peja when discussing the loss to Chicago, but now I'm rethinking that to a certain degree.
Prior to the season most Hornets fans believed that the Hornets would have a great season as long as the team remained relatively healthy. Health is important to every team, but the Hornets lack of depth makes health even more important. As Hornets fans, we realized this. So now the question is: have the Hornets truly underacheived or have they simply been hurt by too many injuries?
Well, let's look at the injury situation last season and this season.
Rather than look at every single player, I decided to focus on last year's starting five.
Games played out of a possible 82 in the 2007-2008 season.
Chris Paul: 80 (missed 2.4% of the season)
David West: 76 (missed 7.3% of the season)
Peja Stojakovic: 77 (missed 6.0% of the season)
Tyson Chandler: 79 (missed 3.6% of the season)
Morris Peterson: 76 (missed 7.3% of the season)
Games played out of a possible 68 in the 2008-2009 season.
Chris Paul: 64 (Has missed 5.8% of the season)
David West: 62 (Has missed 8.8% of the season)
Peja Stojakovic: 53 (Has missed 22.0% of the season)
Tyson Chandler: 44 (Has missed 35.2% of the season)
Morris Peterson: 32 (Has misssed 52.9% of the season)
As you can see, every player on last year's starting five has missed a greater percentage of games this season. In the case of Chandler, Stojakovic and Peterson it's a very signifigant increase.
Now, some of you may cry foul since I'm using last year's starting five for both seasons. It's true, the emergence of Rasual Butler as a starter and as very solid contributer does offest the loss of Morris Peterson to a certain extent. He's in fact a more productive starting two guard this season than Mo Pete was last season (a 13 PER compard to an 11 PER), and he's yet to miss a single game. Nonetheless, having Mo Pete healthy more often could have certainly strengthened the Hornets weak bench. Even if we take Mo Pete out of the picture there are still the drastic increases in time missed from Peja and Tyson. And unfortunately, it looks like Peja and Tyson are going to continue to miss games. At the very least they'll both be missing the game against the Warriors tonight.
We should also keep in mind that Antonio Daniels, Hilton Armstrong and Sean Marks have also missed games due to health.
So what's my point? Am I trying to excuse a somewhat dissapointing season? Not exactly. Sure, there's no doubt that the 08-09 Hornets have lost some games that they shouldn't have, and there's been times when health has not been an issue and the team did not properly take advantage of that fact.
On the other hand, this team is still going to win 50 games and the five most important players from last year's squad have missed a combined 85 games. CP3 for MVP? Yes.
Really I just wanted to write a post that illustrated how much injuries have been a part of the Hornets 08-09 season, and I think that Hornets fans should keep this in mind when evaluating this season.
Let's hope that the Hornets have Peja and Tyson back for the playoffs. If the Hornets are healthy come playoff time anything is possible.