Surprised by the Hornets

J.A. Adande correctly notes that “Coach of the Year often is a way to cover up bad predictions” and this will likely redound to the benefit of New Orleans coach Byron Scott since the team is doing better than expected. It’s worth asking, though, if anything especially surprising happened. When you get right down to it — not really. They didn’t make any offseason moves that turned out much better than expected, they haven’t seen a rookie turn out to be a great contributor, and they haven’t seen an unheralded guy emerge into greatness.

Chris Paul was a great player last season and he’s even better this season, but that’s really what you expect from a young player. The main difference, it seems to me, is this — thus far Paul has missed two games over the course of the season, whereas last year he missed 18. David West has missed six games this season, whereas last season he missed 30. Tyson Chandler has missed three games, but last season he missed nine. It’s hard to win the games when your best players don’t play, especially when you’re a team with a bad bench. Have those players available more, and the team does better. New Orleans’ success wasn’t widely predicted (though there were exceptions) since they didn’t do so well last year, don’t have a distinguished pedigree, and didn’t do anything interesting in the off-season. But their success has mostly amounted to everyone doing what they did last year but being injured less.