It isn’t hard to notice when Carl Landry in on the floor.
No. 24 will be the guy hustling to set picks, lunging for every loose ball, anxiously vying for every 50-50 possession opportunity (that is, balls being fought over by opposing players) and jostling for position in order to contest each rebound.
For fans, it’s a refreshing and entertaining show of a player clearly doing everything he can to help his team. For opponents tasked with the unenviable job of guarding Landry, it’s an awareness that you are about to earn your pay in trying to keep the power forward in check.
In short, it’s the kind of skill set that is entirely effort-oriented – and makes you wonder why more NBA players can’t do the same.
“[David West] is obviously big and strong and knows what he’s doing when he gets in the paint, but Landry’s just all over the place and gets to where he needs to be,” Toronto Raptors power forward Amir Johnson told HOOPSADDICT.com in comparing two significant parts of the New Orleans Hornets’ imposing new big man rotation.
While Johnson wouldn’t offer a suggestion at which of the Hornets’ bigs was tougher to handle in speaking prior to facing New Orleans on Tuesday night (a 96-90 Raptors’ win), the comments highlighted the challenge in facing a team that boasts size, skill and versatility up front.
While West and Emeka Okafor bring plenty to the table, themselves, it is the newly acquired Landry who has added depth to New Orleans’ frontcourt since coming over from Sacramento in advance of last week’s trade deadline and completes the big man puzzle for a playoff contender looking to make noise in the NBA’s second season.
In a swap of former NBA All-Rookie second team-ers, Landry was acquired from Sacramento in exchange for G Marcus Thornton and cash considerations. While first-year GM Dell Demps acknowledged the difficulty in parting with a young player like Thornton, he emphasized the character and energy that Landry would provide.
“Carl is a player we have looked to acquire for a long time and we hope to be a big part of our long term success,” says Demps. “Carl is a high character person that will add a scoring punch to our front court while providing toughness and the ability to make plays.”
For his part, Landry embraces the new challenge in front of him.
“I’m going to play just as hard no matter who I’m playing for,” Landry told HOOPSADDICT.com, “but this is a good group here and I think I can help them do some things in these last 20 games or so and then, hopefully, in the playoffs, too.”
But the postseason is still a far ways off for a club that has won just four of its past 15 games and has perennial playoff teams like the Phoenix Suns and Utah Jazz behind them looking to make a late run into the top eight of the Western Conference.
Hornets guard Jarrett Jack knows all too well that a trip to the playoffs can get away from you quickly.
“”It is definitely a race; it’s not finished,” warns Jack. “I found that out last year going into the All-Star break [with the Raptors]. We were fifth in the East and ended up not making the playoffs. We’re aware things can change drastically here and if we don’t bring our ‘A’ game, things will change quickly.”
Perhaps that’s where Landry comes in. With star point guard and team floor leader Chris Paul struggling, the 2007 second-round pick (31st over-all) could offer the energetic, emotional boost this team needs. He did so with Houston during the 2009 playoffs, becoming a fan favourite en route to helping the Rockets past the Portland Trailblazers despite the absence of then-leading scorer Tracy McGrady.
“I think we’re capable of beating anybody if we play up to what we’re capable of,” says Landry. “There’ll be some tough games, but it feels good to have something to play for every night.”
Basically, you could say that Landry’s here to give the Hornets some sting.