Player Focus: David West & Desmond Mason
The NO/Okla Hornets have had a roller coaster ride of a season thus far. They've beaten teams like the Jazz, Lakers (twice), Wizards, Cavs, Pistons, Heat & Nuggets, but have also lost to teams that they should have beaten. They've had their share of injuries (Paul, West & Stojakovic have all been out for extended periods of time) too. At the end of the day, they may or may not make the playoffs this year, but I still think that they have the potential to be a 7th or 8th seed in the next couple of years.
Two key players in their starting lineup that seem to be often overlooked in the hobby are PF David West and GF Desmond Mason.
West, a two-year starter, has played all four of his NBA seasons with the Hornets. In 05-06, he averaged 17.1 ppg & 7.4 rpg. So far this season, he's averaging 17.0 ppg & 8.5 rpg. Most of his RCs are listed as commons right now, but look for that to change as he is back from injury, continues his strong play, and helps the Hornets make a run for the playoffs. Four RC cards from 03-04 that I like are his Ultimate Coll Auto #'d 250, SPx Auto/Jsy #'d 1999, SP Authentic Auto #'d 1250 and Bowman Sig Auto/Jsy #'d 1245.
Mason, in his 2nd year with the Hornets, has been quite the consistent player over his 7-year career, as both a reserve & starter. His career averages are 12.8 ppg & 4.6 rpg. This season he's averaging 14.3 ppg & 5.0 rpg. He's the only Hornet that has played & started in all 60 of their games this season, providing support through the other players' injuries. His key RC from 00-01 is SPx Auto/Jsy #'d 2500. These can be found at a steal! A lot of them that I've seen go unsold on auction, with starting bids in the $0.99 to $5.00 range. I would try to pick this one up for $3-5 (incl s&h) as an investment. Even if he never does catch hobby fire, it's small enough of a risk at that price level.
Both of these players can be counted on to contribute double digit scoring day in & day out (West has scored in double digits 84% of the games this season; Mason 80%), something a lot of teams' starting lineups are lacking.