Commentary

Fixing the early-exit teams: West

The Spurs, Nuggets, Hornets and Blazers all have work to do this offseason

Updated: May 4, 2011, 5:29 PM ET
By Tom Haberstroh | ESPN Insider
Chris PaulNoah Graham/NBAE/Getty ImagesThe Hornets need to surround Chris Paul with a more formidable cast of scorers.

WESTERN CONFERENCE | EAST

New Orleans Hornets (46-36)

What they need: Scorers, scorers and more scorers
How many times did you watch the Lakers-Hornets series and think to yourself, "Man, how is Chris Paul doing this?" The All-Star point guard was making gold out of rocks, and the series ultimately was decided by the fact that the Hornets' answer for Hall of Famer Kobe Bryant was Marco Belinelli.

Despite having a virtuoso point guard, the Hornets were the 19th-best offense in the NBA last season. That's what happens when three of the team's five leaders in field goal attempts are Belinelli, Willie Green and Trevor Ariza. New Orleans needs efficient shot creators, and David West's potential departure would make a bad situation worse.

How they get it: Re-sign David West and upgrade at the 2
This team isn't far from title contention. Add some scorers to a strong defense anchored by Emeka Okafor and let Paul work his magic, and this team could be right back in it next season.

But it's easier said than done. To keep Paul in town for the future, it's in the Hornets' best interest to bring in some win-now veterans as opposed to long-term projects who might or might not pan out. But whom do they go after? With West undergoing offseason knee surgery and Zach Randolph getting removed from the market, the market supply of bankable power forwards isn't what it was a few weeks ago. Jason Richardson could be had at a bargain after his disappointing stint with Orlando, and that might be the team's best option this summer.