Fanhouse talks about Okafor's struggles in New Orleans
It's been a rough year for Mek, but I don't think many of us expected him to struggle like this with the Hornets.
"New surroundings," he said. "Maybe I was thrown for a loop by the trade. But who really knows?"
Okafor did miss most of training camp with a sprained right second toe, which New Orleans coach Jeff Bower said "slowed him down." But Okafor didn't look too bad at the start for the Hornets, averaging 14.5 points and 10.8 rebounds in the first four games.
Bower does point out Okafor is playing alongside more scorers than he did in Charlotte, namely forwards David West
, Peja Stojakovic
and star guard Chris Paul
, although Paul has missed nearly half the season due to injury. That's the primary reason the Hornets, who now have Stojakovic out for a while with an abdominal strain, are 33-37 and out of the playoff chase.
What about changing conferences? Has going from the East to West, which is stronger from top to bottom and perhaps offers a faster tempo than the grind-it-out Okafor prefers, been a factor in his slippage?
"Maybe yes, maybe not," Okafor said.
Denver big man Nene leans way more toward yes. While Nene likes Okafor, calling him "a good player,'' he wonders if he has been fully ready to do battle in the rugged West.