NEW YORK // New Orleans guard Chris Paul said he was setting aside personal goals and dreaming about what the Hornets can achieve as a team in the upcoming NBA season. "Every year since I've been in the NBA I've set goals," the six-foot point guard Paul told Reuters after reading his book "Long Shot: Never Too Small to Dream Big," to children at New York's NBA Store. "As a rookie, it was to be Rookie of the Year, make the rookie All-Star game. Then be an All Star, be first-team NBA, be All-Defense. I've done all that stuff.
"Going into this season none of that is my goal. My only goal is to win a championship." Paul, whose book is about overcoming his height disadvantage for basketball while growing up in North Carolina, improved statistically last season where he averaged 22.8 points, 11 assists, 2.8 steals and improved his shooting percentages. The Hornets (49-33 last year), however, were bounced from the playoffs in the first round, after posting a 56-26 mark and going to a seventh game in the Western Conference semi-finals against San Antonio the season before.
"It's like you take one step forward and two or three back," said the 24-year-old, who added that injuries to forwards Tyson Chandler and Peja Stojakovic last season had hampered the team's progress. "I think health has a lot to do with it. When we won all those games, we only missed 18 or 20 as a collective team. That was part of the reason we did so well." Chandler has since been traded to the Charlotte Bobcats with the Hornets receiving Emeka Okafor in exchange.
"I think there will definitely be an adjustment period at training camp. But once we get it going, it's gonna work out perfect," Paul said. Paul was also enthused about the addition of several new players, which would take the focus off him. New Orleans drafted guards Darren Collison and Marcus Thornton and received ball handler Bobby Brown and forward Darius Songaila of Lithuania in a trade with Minnesota.
"That will help me out a lot because it will get the ball out of my hands a little bit more," he said. "It's huge. At times teams have been able to trap me all the time, because they know I'm gonna have the ball in my hands. "But with these other guards now I have the opportunity to play off the ball a little bit." For his part, Paul has gone back to the basics to prepare for the new season. "I actually got back with the trainers I worked with before my rookie year. I got back in the gym.
"I didn't go for bulk. I wanted to be toned and make sure I'm strong enough. "I'm excited for the season. I can't wait. I can't wait." * Reuters