Desmond Mason was traded to the Hornets three years ago to the day yesterday. He immediately became an integral player on a Hornets team that won 20 more games than it did the previous season and finished 38-44.
And Mason thinks this year’s Thunder roster is better than that 2005 Hornets bunch. "It’s hard to say that now when you look at the Hornets and what they accomplished last year,” Mason said. "But when we were here, I think this team from a talent standpoint has more talent, especially young talent.” The Hornets came to town in 2005 with the same low expectations the Thunder faces as it opens the 2008-09 season Wednesday. Believe it or not, there was a time when the Hornets were viewed by many in Oklahoma City as J.R. Smith and a bunch of other guys. But Chris Paul and David West and Speedy Claxton and P.J. Brown and Mason quickly changed that tune. Mason and Jeff Green and Chris Wilcox and Nick Collison and Russell Westbrook must now justify the Thunder being labeled anything other than Kevin Durant and a bunch of other guys. Paul is the obvious difference in the two teams. Although Durant is expected to blossom into a star, he doesn’t yet have the ability to make his teammates better like Paul. But as gifted as Paul was even then, Mason said the Hornets’ success stemmed from more. "We had a great relationship with each other on and off the floor,” Mason remembered of the 2005-06 Hornets.