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Four Questions For A Hornets Fan

For the first game after the All-Star game, Ryan from Hornets247 and I decided to exchange some questions.

1) The Hornets have the best record in the Western Conference (you know this, but I think outsiders have to keep reminding themselves). How much of that is Chris Paul?

If you replace Paul with an average point guard, the Hornets are one of those teams fighting to reach the playoffs and probably failing. The Hornets starting five is fantastic, but they have been built entirely around Paul's talents. A shooter in Peterson, two big forwards who can post up a little and hit jumpshots all day in West and Peja, and Tyson to clean up below. Those are solid pieces, but without Paul's penetration keeping the opposing defense scrambling, they can each be shut down.
2) The Hornets are obviously an underrated team, who is your most underrated player?
Peja Stojakovic. Seriously - and I'm as surprised as you are. I know everyone is celebrating David West right now, but he's exactly what people consider him now - a fringe all-star. Tyson Chandler is a beast, but I think most people get that. Peja, however, is considered soft and a loser, but every month he's gotten more comfortable and more physically fit. Since mid-January, he's been a monster for us. He's hit no less than 4 game-winners this year, along with that overtime-forcing three against Dallas earlier. He's also - believe it or not - a decent perimeter defender. He has problems with the top echelon of explosive forwards - but who doesn't? Otherwise, he closes, plays solid positional defense, challenges the shot, and if he gets beaten he fouls judiciously, rarely giving up free throws. He's also pretty fast with his hands, getting deflections, if not steals, regularly.
3) Any major concerns down the stretch? Shouldn't of Peja hurt his back by now?
My stretch concern is the schedule. Over the end of February and throughout March, we only play 5 losing teams. The Hornets have proven they can beat good teams, but it's going to be a marathon of tough games. However, If you speak of injuries again, I will find a way to destroy you. I know people who live in New Orleans and do voodoo. Be afraid.
4) Tell all the doubters why a team who finished 39-43 last season can win it all this year.
Look, I'm trying to keep my expectations reasonable, and not speculate on my team winning it all. If the Hornets keep their top 5 defense focused, anything is possible. Still, they'll have to overcome a non-scoring bench which won't be addressed until next year. It'll be tough.