The Race to Suck Now, not Later

Published: January 12, 2012

Ryan Schwan worries that the Hornets are too good.  That’s right.  Too good.

There is a Limbo in the NBA.  A purgatory.  A place where no team wants to be – and few fans have the intestinal fortitude to suffer through year after year.  It’s a strange place – because the teams that dwell in that dark place aren’t absolutely terrible.  They have talent.  Some work hard and scratch and claw their way to a few extra wins each season.  Some have enough offensive talent (and defensive apathy) that they can’t help but win a few extra games each season.

These are the teams like the Golden State Warriors, the Raptors, the Bucks, and the Bobcats.  These are teams that perennially pick between 5th and 15th in the draft.  They every so often get lucky enough to squeeze into the playoffs, but generally don’t make it.  These teams get no superstars in the draft, have no real talent to try to attract free agents, and therefore languish for half a decade at a time.

I’m worried that the Hornets appear to be heading that way.  Take a look at the teams around the league.  Are the Hornets one of the worst five teams in the league?  I would say not.  There are four sure-fire worse teams in the east in the Wizards, Nets, Bobcats and Pistons.  In the west, I’m comfortable saying the Kings are a worse team.  That’s five teams worse than the right there – but would anyone confidently say the Bucks, Jazz, Cavaliers, and Warriors are better than the Hornets?  I wouldn’t.

That means, of course, that this Hornets team is likely to end up with two late lottery picks.  That puts the Hornets out of the running for the big talent in the draft.  There will be no Davis or Drummond.  No Barnes, Sullinger or Kidd-Gilchrist.

That’s a disaster if the team is trying to turn it around quickly.

Of course, the irony in all this is the Chris Paul trade mess this summer.  David Stern rejected the Lakers-Rockets-Hornets trade presumably because it didn’t make the Hornets bad enough to start over quickly.  That trade would have resulted in the first real Superstar trade that actually kept the team losing the Superstar with the same talent level as pre-trade.  The Hornets probably would have been a 6-8 seed in the West this year.

Instead, Stern made a different trade with the Clippers, stockpiling young assets and ostensibly making the Hornets so bad their own pick would become a major asset.  He forgot, however, about Monty and Dell.  Monty will get a team playing defense.  That gives you a chance every game.  Dell will turn borderline assets into slightly better assets.  He will try to improve the team.  These two guys want to win – and really, I don’t blame them for it – but I do think it may harm our hopes for a quick, young superstar-driven turn around.

Now, the Hornets can still trade veterans and make moves that help them gain ground in the “Race to Suck Now, Not Later”.  However, if nothing does happen, it’s possible the league office traded a Hornets team that made the playoffs but struggled to progress year after year for a Hornets team that simply struggles to make the playoffs year after year.

I don’t think that’s a trade I like.


  1. neitzelbaby12

    January 12, 2012 at 4:21 pm

    trade away okafor, trey, ariza, belli,

    • okithor

      January 12, 2012 at 4:52 pm

      I agree if you want to tank you gotta trade Okafor and Ariza. Also, maybe the mysterious EG10 injury lingers for the entire season.

      I do think this team is bad BTW. Look at the Frankenstein lineup we are putting up. Two centers, a tweener PF/SF, a third string SG, and a backup shoot first combo guard(It makes you wonder how bad are the Wizards if they can’t even win a game?) The only wild cards that may prevent us from a top 5 pick is Monty gets the most out of these guys, decent depth, and good defense.

      • teddy schiele

        January 13, 2012 at 8:30 am

        best post I seen in a while. Very much on point

  2. Jared from Subway

    January 12, 2012 at 5:21 pm

    The Hornets are going to be god awful once they get rid of Landry and Kaman. There’s no way those guys are hanging around this year. Also Eric Gordon is hurt, so they’re pretty bad now. There will be major tanking this year.

    Also I know you guys want hits and stuff, but having one sentence per post before the jump is ridiculous. Almost exploitative of your readers really, and it makes the website look like complete shit.

    • Jason Calmes

      January 12, 2012 at 5:46 pm

      That’s not how ‘hits’ are measured AND that one ad is from ESPN and isn’t tied to ‘hits’.

      Thanks Jared from Subway. Interesting middle name , by the way.

      • Jared from Subway

        January 12, 2012 at 7:51 pm

        Show me where I said one thing about the ESPN bar on the side. Hint: I didn’t.

        And if you think logging onto their homepage, then clicking through after their one sentence teaser doesn’t equal more hits then I don’t know what to tell you. I know there are better tracking tools, but raw hits are still definitely tracked. My comment about the website looking like crap is when you have a homepage that looks like this:

        One sentence teaser
        One sentence teaser

        is that it looks like garbage and is really annoying when I only have one sentence to go one for an article. I’m obsessed with the Hornets so I’m going to read it anyway, but it doesn’t mean I have to like it.

      • Jared from Subway

        January 12, 2012 at 7:52 pm

        I mean, maybe I presume too much with saying you wanted hits or whatever, I’m probably wrong. I’ll admit that. The main point is that the homepage looks like shit because of the formatting.

      • Jason Calmes

        January 12, 2012 at 8:07 pm

        I tend to agree that the big titles could be made smaller, leaving a cleaner look.

        This is a transition and an experiment (just like the team), and your input is being weighed with all the others.

        You didn’t mention the ads; I did. To me, you only want ‘hits’to for ads. Writers want readers, preferably happy ones… making them work doesn’t help writers. Agreed 100%.

        What is like a hit is a ‘unique visitor’. One person clicking around 2834 times is one visitor. I like that.

        Do me a favor: tell me how you would like to see the homepage… maybe show me 2 pages you like and 2 you don’t…

      • Jared from Subway

        January 12, 2012 at 11:41 pm

        Sites like mgoblog, most of the branded yahoo sports blogs, even atthehive are all looks that I like a lot. They usually provide either some images, a paragraph or two (or a lot more), or some compelling points before asking people to click and read more.

        There’s a lot of content on the internet. There’s a lot of shitty content on the internet. If you take a couple paragraphs to let users know that this is a site worth reading (which this one definitely is), then I feel like you’re more likely to hook new readers because the barriers to the content are lower.

      • Jason Calmes

        January 13, 2012 at 1:23 am


        I think the idea was inspired by Grantland, FYI.

        Also, we’re taking data and likely won’t make big changes this month. Tweaks through the season, then maybe a big swing in the offseason.

  3. david

    January 12, 2012 at 7:17 pm

    5 things make me feel better about the situation.

    1.) All those bad teams in the east will have to play each other multiple times, therefore inflating their win totals. For example, a team like Cleveland may be worse than us, but have a better record bc they are stocking wins vs the pistons and bobcats of the world while we are playing the lakers and thunder and mavs 3 and 4 times.

    2.) Minnesota is 3-7, and although fun to watch, will struggle bc they are injured, new coach w no training camp, have a mis-mash roster that plays no defense, and don’t have a perimeter scorer who can close out games. Plus they play in the stronger west.

    3.) I have a feeling by the trade deadline you will see any combination of kaman, Okafor, ariza, jack, landry, and bellinelli gone. Every time a big goes out w an injury, or a big trade goes through, the Hornets will get a call bc they are the IDEAL trade partner to either a.) Give up a starting quality player, especially a big or b.) Be the third team in any trade to make salary work (like we did getting Henry for a bag of magic beans) or some combination of the two.

    4.) This is the deepest draft on years. The 5th pick could produce Perry Jones, Robinson. Harrison barnes, etc. I also see us picking up more picks when dealing the kamans of the worlds, giving us flexibility to move around in the draft.

    5.) We got Monty and Dell, Yall! In Dell we Trust!

    • StefanC

      January 12, 2012 at 7:49 pm

      No. 5 could be the problem for this year. Those guys are winners, not tankers/losers.

      • David

        January 12, 2012 at 8:35 pm

        Very true. but I also think they are realists. They did break down and trade CP, right?

  4. nolahog

    January 12, 2012 at 9:56 pm

    I don’t buy this argument. With the exception of Tim Duncan or Dwayne Wade, I can’t think of any team that has won an NBA championship in the past 10-15 years because they had a top 5 draft pick. The VAST majority of teams with top picks continue to do poorly because THEY’RE BAD.
    Coaching and front office staff are FAR more influential on the success of an NBA franchise than top 5 draft picks.
    If the Hornets focus on winning as much as possible, everything else will take care of itself.
    You guys need to quit focusing on draft picks on start focusing on this team.

    • NOEngineer

      January 12, 2012 at 10:14 pm


      Establishing the loser mentality so that we can get a higher draft pick is boring, dishonest, and morally bankrupt. I only lose on purpose when playing my kids, and I hope the Hornets don’t start. Some of these turnover streaks we’ve had make it seem like the tanks are rolling.

      Read Dave Berri some time on draft picks. There are so many early picks that have flamed out.

      The only thing I disagree with is focusing on winning. We actually have to focus on 48-minute effort, defending, rebounding, offensive penetration, and off-the-ball movement. We have guys who can do those things, and we can find more in the draft or via trade. If we do those things winning will happen and we will have an increasingly happy fan base.

    • Ryan Schwan

      January 12, 2012 at 10:20 pm

      The Lakers with Pau Gasol. The Celtics with Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen. The Mavericks with Jason Kidd and Tyson Chandler.(Besides, Marion and Nowitzki were both 9th) The Lakers with Shaq. The Pistons with Rasheed Wallace and Chauncey Billups.

      The current contenders: Chicago with Rose, the Heat with the trio, Thunder with Durant.

      In truth, talent is everything, and you will find that every champion has at least one top 5 draft pick playing a major role recently, and probably a couple top 10 picks.

      The organization is very important, yes, but without talent, the organization means nothing.

      • Jason Calmes

        January 12, 2012 at 11:20 pm

        3 coaches have won half the titles, basically. There’s is truth to both. It’s not a horse and cart situation. It’s left shoe, right shoe.

        Love the debate.

      • okithor

        January 13, 2012 at 12:02 am


        It is funny that all the names you point out that won anything came via free agency and not the draft. I think the argument is losing to get draft choices breeds the “loser” mentality and those types of teams stay bad for years even with the young studs/duds that they acquire via the draft.

        PS. I am all for tanking in this strike shortened season. Next year when we have talent people’s memory will be short. And I hope it doesn’t cost Monty his job.

      • NolaHog

        January 13, 2012 at 9:32 am

        All of these guys won AFTER they were traded away from the teams that originally drafted them. If any of their original teams had halfway competent front offices, then they could have built something lasting around them. . . which comes back around to my original point: it’s all about the coaches and the management.
        I definitely agree that there’s valuable talent to be gained from the draft, but it’s still a crap shoot. The teams you listed were put over the top by saavy trades or free agent signings of proven professional talent, which enhanced teams that were already strengthened by sub top 5 picks (Kobe Bryant, Paul Pierce, etc.).

    • 504ever

      January 13, 2012 at 3:17 pm

      Nolahog, what a great post. And if we are close to being a winning team when health, why wouldn’t our two draft picks help put us to the same level we were with Chris Paul?

      Does anyone realize how hard it is to even make the Conference Finals, let alone the Chanpionship series? Chris Paul one of the most talented players ever may never get there. So don’t think any old top 5 draft will get you a Championship.

  5. Chung

    January 12, 2012 at 10:43 pm

    David Thorpe says “Davis, Wroten would help Hornets” on Insider. Who are these guys?

    • Noah

      January 12, 2012 at 11:26 pm

      He plays for Kentucky and is going to be drafted in the top 5 this year (hes a BOSS)

  6. BRballboy

    January 12, 2012 at 11:39 pm

    Fun to see what Dell does to ensure top 6/7 pick. You know he wants it bad, and unless Love goes down, Minn wins too much. Delicious anticipation – check this site multiple times daily.

  7. Blattman

    January 12, 2012 at 11:42 pm

    I think you forgot one thing : age.

    Right now, Hornets are a young team. Aminu is still very raw and he seems to improve with his last performance.
    And don’t forget that strong draft class coming in. Even with 5th to 15th picks, hornets could draft quality players.

    • Jason Calmes

      January 13, 2012 at 1:23 am

      Oldest team in the NBA? Anyone?


      What sort of teams did better in the last shortened teams: older or younger?


  8. J

    January 13, 2012 at 9:30 am

    This team have youth it would be great to make a trade to push for an playoff run.Monty not sold on Jack yet it would be a surprise if they make moves to get bench players and or more draft picks.To reserve cap space to sign Aaron Brooks and or Wilson Chandler once their china contracts expire in march.Teams willing go for a trade for Okafor Hawks,Kings,Cavs,Thunder because i still think they’re not sold on Kendrick Perkins and Pistons.Those Same teams could be interested in Belli and others maybe.Thus if they bulid the chemisty like they’re doing now and once Gordon,Henry and Smith comes back this team could be a susprise in the second half of this season.

  9. david

    January 13, 2012 at 2:19 pm

    I don’t see us being near a playoff spit at the deadline, especially w Gordon and ariza being out, so it makes all tge sense in the world to deal our guys for assets. It’s not tanking, is smart and the right thing to do. Tanking is losing on purpose by not playing hard. Monty won’t let that fly. we just won’t be good enough to win.

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