21. New Orleans Hornets

2010-11 Record: 46-36 (Lost in 1st Round to L.A. Lakers, 4-2)
Key Returning Players: Marco Belinelli, Trevor Ariza
Key Additions: Eric Gordon, Chris Kaman
Key Losses: Chris Paul, David West
This Week: @ Phoenix, Monday (12/26); vs. Boston, Wednesday (12/28); vs. Phoenix, Friday (12/30); @ Sacramento, Sunday (1/1)

Are Eric Gordon, Chris Kaman, and Al-Farouq Aminu better than Lamar Odom, Kevin Martin, and Luis Scola? In the long run, probably, but try telling that to the 10,000 the Hornets coaxed into buying season tickets before this season with the promise of seeing Chris Paul, or, barring that, at least some winning basketball. The Hornets are a couple seasons removed from being one of the more exciting teams in the L; now they're the game's version of purgatory, with even Carl Landry unwilling to commit to the team long-term because of concerns about the future ownership. But try this thought experiment: Fix yourself a Hurricane, pound the whole thing, then fill it halfway again. Now you've got a glass that's either half-empty or half-full. Half-full if you think Gordon is ready for Joe Johnson almost-superstar status, if you think that Jarrett Jack can be an above average NBA point, and if you think that a frontline of Kaman, Landry, and Trevor Ariza can rough up some of the softer teams in the Western Conference. And if you think it's half-empty, well, hey, you've got half of a Hurricane and you're drunk already. —Jack Erwin