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New Orleans Hornets Fans Can Start Dreaming About Their Two Lottery Picks in the 2012 NBA Draft

Without question, the Hornets got a better deal from the Clippers than they would have from the Lakers/Rockets. We examined both deals last week, but there’s been a slight change, so here’s a quick comparison, with what New Orleans got on the left vs. what they could have gotten on right:

Kaman vs. Scola – Statistically, Scola is a better player, but Kaman is more coveted because he’s an expiring contract. Scola, 32, has four more years on his deal.
Gordon vs. Martin - One could argue statistically they are even, but Gordon is six years younger and much cheaper.
Aminu vs. Odom – No doubt Odom is the better player. Aminu will come off the bench for the Hornets, but he has considerable upside.
Minnesota’s Draft pick vs. the Knicks’ Draft pick – No contest. Knicks are a top 5 team in the East, perhaps as high as three. (see below for further details)
nothing vs. Goran Dragic – Slight edge to the Houston/LA part of the deal.

How quickly can the Hornets turn things around? I’m projecting them to be one of the five worst teams in the NBA next year:

Cleveland – Far too young, not enough talent
Detroit – No direction whatsoever
Charlotte – Offensively challenged, but I love what the future holds
New Orleans
Sacramento - Devoid of defense, but probably will be fun to watch offensively

[Note: A case could be made for the Raptors, or Orlando if Dwight Howard gets traded, or maybe even Phoenix.]

The Timberwolves? Minnesota really is a wild card. There’s actual talent on the roster – Kevin Love, the NBA’s leading rebounder; Michael Beasley averaged 19 ppg – I like the JJ Barea addition, and they have youth (Ricky Rubio! Derrick Williams!). When NBA predictions start rolling in, I think you’ll see perhaps the widest disparity of any team in the league. I could understand a 20-46 guess but also a 40-26 prediction.

If the Timberwolves happen to be incredible and go 48-22 or something absurd, and Chris Paul and Blake Griffin both go down for the season with injuries and the Clippers stink … the draft pick the Hornets get will be LA’s. They get the better draft pick from Minnesota or Los Angeles.

Since Hornets’ fans don’t have much optimism about the 2011-2012 season, let’s look at the 2012 draft.

Just for fun, let’s eliminate Anthony Davis from this discussion. Right now, it appears the Kentucky forward be the No. 1 pick in the draft, and I don’t think the Hornets will have the worst record in the league (with Bledsoe instead of Gordon, they might have). These players are expected to come out and I think they’ll be in the 2-11 range in the 2012 draft.

Harrison Barnes, North Carolina, SF
Austin Rivers, Duke, G
Terrence Jones, Kentucky, SF
Jared Sullinger, Ohio State, PF
Andre Drummond, Connecticut, PF
Jeremy Lamb, Connecticut, SG
Perry Jones, Baylor, SF
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Kentucky, SF
Brad Beal, Florida, SG
Thomas Robinson, Kansas, PF

The Hornets get two of those players to pair with Eric Gordon? Wow. How about Andre Drummond to go next to Okafor (that fierce Connecticut tandem would block plenty of shots), and Austin Rivers to go in the backcourt with Gordon? Rivers-Gordon-Ariza-Drummond-Okafor?

Or would you rather have Harrison Barnes at small forward, and Thomas Robinson at power forward? I wouldn’t even rule out a guy like Jeremy Lamb because he plays the same position as Gordon. Who knows if Gordon will want to sign an extension with the Hornets? How about Louisiana native Perry Jones and Jared Sullinger? Talk about immediate improvement. It’s coming.

Yes, I think it’ll be more entertaining for Hornets’ fans to watch college hoops and scout their two potential lottery picks than the team New Orleans will field this season.

 

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