James Posey (left) has the bling to back up what he says to the Hornets -- including team leader Chris Paul -- about developing a title-worthy defense.
Chris Paul scored at least 20 points while dishing out double-digit assists 31 times last season. That's the most since '91-92, when the Warriors' Tim Hardaway had 20 and 10 in 34 games.
Record: 56-26 (T-2nd in West) Points scored: 100.9 (9th in NBA) Points allowed: 95.6 (5th)
This on-the-cusp team raided the world champs for a veteran with a winning touch
James Posey makes his biggest contributions to the Hornets when he'snot even in the game. "He has changed our culture because we came into trainingcamp talking about how our defense has to get better in order to win achampionship, and no one knows that better than James," says coach Byron Scott."And he's always the first guy off the bench to scream and yell. We neededthat."
It may seem odd for a reserve forward, playing for his sixth team in 10years, to be so influential on a club that finished with the second-best recordin the West and was one win from the conference finals. But Posey isn't youraverage 6-foot-8 journeyman. By winning two titles in the last three yearswith the Heat and the Celtics, he has gained a reputation as the final piece ofthe puzzle for any contending team, which is why New Orleans signed him toa four-year, $25 million free-agent deal this summer.
Scott is leaning toward using Posey as a sixth man to provide lockdowndefense and three-point shooting; the Hornets' bench lacked both last season. Inthe meantime, Posey has already embraced his role as a team leader. "All theguys ask him questions," says Scott, "and you know they're going to listen tohim because he has two rings and these guys want to win one."
"It's a mind-set, and I'm trying to get my teammates to buy into that," saysPosey. "It's not going to be easy, but if they believe in what I'm saying andbelieve in themselves, we're going to be in a good position to win atitle." -- Arash Markazi
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide - from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Seth Davis, and more - delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.