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News » Paul relishing his new role as mentor

Paul relishing his new role as mentor

Paul relishing his new role as mentorWith a roster that includes rookie guards Darren Collison and Marcus Thornton, Hornets point guard Chris Paul already is embracing his role as a mentor. In his four seasons, Paul always had a more experienced point guard playing behind him.

But earlier this week, the Hornets traded 12-year veteran Antonio Daniels to the Minnesota Timberwolves, making Paul the most experienced point guard on the roster.

"Actually it's a funny feeling, and all summer I've been thinking and talking about it," Paul said. "It's crazy that I'm going into my fifth year and actually have a young group of guys to play that position with me."

Paul, 24, resumed workouts in New Orleans this week and has taken the initiative to mentor Thornton, whom the Hornets obtained on draft night after the Miami Heat selected him in the second round.

"I wake up and work out at 6 a.m., and Marcus said he had been working out at 8 a.m.," Paul said. "I told Marcus we're going at 6. I think that's part of being older now, and that I can sort of tell him that he's going to work out with me."

Paul said he is comfortable with his mentoring role, and it likely will be needed for the entire season because the Hornets have six players who were not with the team last season. That includes Darius Songalia and Bobby Brown, who were acquired from the Timberwolves in exchange for Daniels and a second-round draft pick Wednesday.

Hornets Coach Byron Scott's plans include Paul and Collison, whom New Orleans drafted in the first round, occasionally playing in the backcourt together. Third-year swingman Julian Wright will compete for the starting shooting guard spot with veteran Morris Peterson, and Thornton is expected to gain substantial playing time off the bench.

All of those players will be seeking Paul's guidance, including Peterson, who spent part of the offseason working out with Paul.

"I think Chris continues to add to his impact every year," General Manger Jeff Bower said. "Statistically his impact on the court, but I think now he's pretty much regarded as the best point guard in the league. I think as he has reached those levels. He's also has taken on more of a role as a leader. The type of person that he is, he is a great guy to follow. When you practice against a player considered the best at his position, who is a gold-medal winning Olympian who is one of the top five players in the game, you are bound to look up and learn from somebody like that."

With Paul as leader, the Hornets are hoping to return as one of the elite teams in the Western Conference, like they were during the 2007-08 season when they won a franchise-record 56 games before losing in seven games to the San Antonio Spurs in the second round of the playoffs. Last season the Hornets won 49 games but were eliminated by the Denver Nuggets in the first round.

"I'm excited because there are so many things that can happen in the offseason, and you can only control what you can," said Paul, who this season will seeking his third consecutive All-Star Game appearance. "The biggest thing I can do is come out and play. Whatever you do, no matter what the media or anybody says, the end of the day you still have to play the game. I'm truly excited about training camp to see if we still feel that burning from how last season ended."

Paul said he expects the Hornets to start the regular season as a consistent winner and says they won't have a problem with new players adjusting to Scott's system.

"We get all that preseason time to figure out our rotations and to figure out everybody," Paul said. "I definitely think we have an opportunity to be better than last year."

It was supposed to be a relaxing offseason for Paul because he did not have to participate with USA Basketball. However, he kept a busy schedule that included a trip to China, copmpleting a children's book and maintaining an intense daily workout schedule for the entire summer.

Next week, Paul will host his first celebrity golf tournament, and later this month he will host his annual charity event in Winston-Salem, N.C., his hometown.

"I'm in the best shape that I've ever been in," Paul said. "I've been pretty successful these first four years as an individual, but I still haven't won a championship, yet. So if that means I have to get to practice early or go harder myself, that's what I'm going to do."

. . . . . . .

John Reid can be reached at or at (504) 826-3405.

Author: Fox Sports
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Added: September 11, 2009


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