Emeka Okafor a big part of early-season Hornets success

Steve Aschburner of NBA.com reports:

Look, no one is going to mix up the reasons for New Orleans’ swift start. Paul is back, healthier than the heavy brace on his left knee makes him appear, playing like the league’s MVP over the first two weeks. “Best pick-and-roll player in the game right now,” Milwaukee coach Scott Skiles said, who can “mesmerize” opponents.

David West is profiting again from Paul’s return and drawing rivals’ best big defenders (or two). Williams, in steering a team to a 6-0 start built entirely on victory margins of nine points or less, has matched the work of Red Auerbach with the Washington Capitals in 1948-49. Others have been helpful, too, from Marco Belinelli’s shooting to Jerryd Bayless in relief of Paul to the overlooked likes of Willie Green and Quincy Pondexter.

But Okafor ranks high on any list of reasons for New Orleans’ early success, considering how far he had fallen. Through his first five pro seasons, Okafor had toiled — on the court sometimes, in rehab other times — for a Charlotte club that never reached the playoffs and, in fact, lost 122 more games than it won in that time. In July 2009, he was traded to New Orleans for Tyson Chandler, and while he played in 82 games for the third consecutive season — no small feat with back issues red-flagged even before he left UConn — Okafor’s production waned (10.4 points, 9 rebounds a game).

Author: Inside Hoops

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