When they open their season Wednesday at Golden State, the Hornets face a Warriors team missing its top two scorers from last season.
In their first full season back in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina forced them into a two-year stay in Oklahoma City, the Hornets pushed the San Antonio Spurs to Game 7 of the Western Conference semifinals after winning a franchise-best 56 games and its first Southwest Division title.
"Some of the stuff we did last year is crazy to think about now," Paul said. "Those records are set, and now we've got to set one record for this franchise, and that's to win a world championship."
In just his third season, Paul was a first-team All-NBA selection after averaging 11.6 assists and 2.7 steals -- the first player to lead the league in both since Utah's John Stockton in 1992. Paul scored a team-high 21.1 points per game while hitting 85.1 percent of his free throws and nearly 37 percent from the 3-point line.
"Chris Paul, in my mind, he's the best point guard in the league," New Orleans coach Byron Scott said.
West had a breakout 2007-08 and was a first-time All-Star with career bests in points (20.6) and rebounds (8.9), Chandler scored a career-high 11.8 points per game and was fourth in the NBA with 11.7 rebounds per contest, while Stojakovic was fourth in the league with a career-best 44.1 percent from beyond the arc.
"David West has emerged as one of the best young power forwards in this league, Tyson has emerged as one of the best young centers in this league and everybody keeps forgetting about Peja, who is still, to me, the best shooter in the NBA," Scott said. "So I don't look at us as a 'Big Three.' I look at those four guys as really our 'Big Four.'"
New Orleans signed Posey to a four-year, $25-million deal in the offseason. Posey averaged 6.7 points and 3.6 rebounds in 26 postseason games last season as the Boston Celtics won the NBA championship. Posey also won a ring with the Miami Heat in 2006.
"This is why you play the game, for the opportunity to compete for championships and a chance to win one," Posey said.
For Golden State, the goal this season is figuring out a way to replace its top two scorers. Despite leading the NBA in scoring at 111.0 points per game, the Warriors missed the playoffs after going 48-34 in a loaded Western Conference. Baron Davis led Golden State with 21.8 points and 7.6 assists per game, but opted out of his final year and signed a five-year, $65-million contract with the Los Angeles Clippers.
Golden State countered by signing the Clippers' top scorer last season -- Corey Maggette -- to a five-year, $50-million deal. Maggette averaged 22.1 points, 5.6 rebounds and 2.7 assists in 2007-08.
"He's been one of the most productive players in our league for the last several years, and provides us with additional versatility and veteran leadership," said Chris Mullin, Golden State's top basketball executive.
After averaging 20.2 points, 5.0 rebounds and 3.9 assists last season, Golden State guard Monta Ellis was rewarded with a six-year, $66-million contract in July.
In late-August, Ellis injured his ankle in a mo-ped accident, but told the team he injured himself during a pickup game in Mississippi. Ellis' decision to lie about his injury cost him approximately $3 million as team president Robert Rowell suspended Ellis for 30 games without pay.
"He's a 22-year-old young man who has done a lot of great things to get himself into a position where he was to get a $66 million contract," Rowell said. "We have faith in him that he's going to continue to prosper and be a great player in this league."