New Orleans Preview
- By Tim McManus, Day 1, 2023
NEW ORLEANS -
Hurricanes Gm Tim McM sat down with local media today to give an assessment of the team.
GM: "The Hurricanes have taken a step forward each of the last three seasons going from a franchise that never had a winning record to a winning record in 2020 to making the playoffs for the first time in 2021 to winning a playoff game in 2022. While we are excited with the direction the franchise is headed our ultimate goal is to bring a championship to New Orleans.
We were 24th in the league with a 111.0 defensive rating in 2021 and knew that this was an area that we needed to improve. We concentrated on defense in last years draft and improved to 8th in the league. This season we went into the draft looking for a balance of offense and defense. We feel the additions of Demarr Wilson, Kyle Rose and Sava Vulikic bring us this balance"
STARTING PG - 2nd year player Sergio Loyola may have been the biggest surprise last season with his play when he took over for an injured Tyson Kuberka and started 14 games averaging 17 pts and 9.5 assists. His play allowed us to trade Kuberka and hand over the starting job to Loyola. He finished the season with a 4.7:1 assist to turnover ratio. We are excited to put the ball in Sergio's hands and see what he can do as the teams starting PG. Sergio had an excellent training camp improving his ball handling and passing significantly.
PG OFF THE BENCH - We signed 33 year old veteran Quinton Ledoux in free agency as the primary backup to Loyola. We were very happy to land Ledoux giving us an excellent playmaking/ballhandler to compliment Loyola.
STARTING SG - 35 year old Hilton Phillips brings veteran leadership to a young back court. There was much discussion about where to play Hilton, starting SG or starting SF and even a sixth man role to backup PG, SG and/or SF. Coach Oliver felt strongly that we needed Hilton's offense in the starting lineup and SG seemed a more natural fit. With some of the young players on the team we feel that we have a lot of flexibility in the lineup at this position.
SG OFF THE BENCH - 1st round draft choice Demarr Wilson will be up first off the bench to spell Phillips. Wilson has great size for a wing and is a very good athlete. Demarr worked hard in camp to improve his defense as well as his shooting and we look forward to seeing him in action.
STARTING SF - 3rd year player Deron Bentley moves over to SF with the decision to start Phillips at SG. Bentley is an important player for us this season and we are looking for big things from him. Deron is able to play both shooting guard or small forward and is physically very strong and an elite athlete which we feel will allow him to make the transition to SF. Deron's offensive ability will be a key to our success this season. Deron had a good training camp and improved overall.
SF OFF THE BENCH - 6'10" 2nd round draft pick Kyle Rose narrowly beat out Jalan Howard and Jarron Gaston for the backup spot at SF. Rose is a very good defender has superb defensive instincts and is a fantastic three-point shooter. Kyle had a great camp. He put in the work and showed great improvements. Kyle is a young player that the entire organization is excited about.
STARTING PF - With Leon Bowen being out for the start of the season with a dislocated knee we will start the season with Ryan Pierce at the PF position. 7 year pro Ryan Pierce is an elite defender and consumate pro who works very hard to improve his game. Ryan is a fantastic offensive and defensive rebounder who spends a lot of time in the gym. Ryan is the type of player you put in the lineup and forget about knowing that he is a consistent performer and you will get his best game in and game out.
PF OFF THE BENCH - Free agent pickup Zach Brennan will be first up off the bench to spell Pierce with Jarron Gaston waiting in the wings. Brennan can bring some scoring off the bench at the position and is a decent post defender. Zach literally took thousands of shots in camp and worked really hard to improve his offense.
STARTING C - 2nd year pro Xavier Maxwell will take the starting role while Leon Bowen recovers from his knee injury. Xavier will probably not contribute much on the offensive side of things but being paired up defensively with Ryan Pierce in the front court makes us a very good inside defensive team. We were happy with his progress defensively in training camp and he should be able to make more of an impact this season.
C OFF THE BENCH - 7'4" free agent pickup Dzaflo Taybron will likely split time with Xavier at the center position. Dzaflo is a decent outside shooter, solid rebounder, solid shot blocker and a good defender in the post. Dzaflo spent a lot of time in the gym and improved overall.
While the ultimate goal is to win a championship, realistically getting home court in the playoffs would be the next logical step for the franchise. We feel we have improved our bench significantly with the draft and free agent acquisitions and with the natural development of our core players that a 50-60 win season is realistic. Anything short of the playoffs would be a major disappointment for the team as well as the fans.