Looking to the Future: A Star Rises

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Published: January 21, 2012

We look at all the developments in college basketball this week that could impact the Hornets draft, including the ascent of Thomas Robinson.

The Hornets head into tonight’s match-up with the Mavericks with a record of 3-12, which is dead last in the Western Conference and just one game ahead of Washington for worst record in the NBA. While it is true that there is still a long season ahead of us, the fact remains that the 2012 draft will be crucial to the Hornets rebuilding process, and therefore it is crucial that we are all as informed as possible heading into this potentially franchise changing day. So why not start now?

The Week that Was:

The biggest development of the week was the dominating performance by Thomas Robinson in the Kansas Jayhawks 92-74 win over Perry Jones III and #3 Baylor. Robinson was a man amongst boys, dropping 27 and 14, but as impressive as those numbers were, the little things really sell you on Robinson if you watch him closely. First of all, he doesn’t turn the ball over even though he touches it quite a bit. Just 2 turnovers in his last four games- that’s one every 56 minutes played. He also seems to understand defensive rotations and never forces anything on the offensive end. Robinson started the year off as a potential late lottery pick; he is now a lock for the top 5. Watch close Hornets fans, this could be our PF of the future. If we could only be so lucky.

Perry Jones III was not exactly a slouch in the big game of the week, but a General Manager is going to have some explaining to do if he drafts Jones over Robinson this June. It was clear who the superior player was on that night, so the only way Jones gets picked first is if a team falls in love with his upside. Jones is taller, longer, and younger than Robinson, but it is hard to imagine that Jones could dominate a game the way Robinson did, even if you gave him another year.

Andre Drummond had another disappointing game in a loss this week to unranked Cinncinnati, going 2-9 and scoring just 4 points while pulling down 6 rebounds. People who argue that Drummond should be the #1 pick say that he can be the next Amare Stoudamire, but Amare averaged 13.5 points and 9 rebounds a game his first year out of high school, and that was against NBA competition. Drummond can’t even come close to matching those numbers against the likes of Seton Hall, Rutgers, and Cincinnati.

Oh, Anthony Davis. Do I secretly pray every night that thy name cometh across David Stern’s lips after he speaks the words, “With the first pick, the New Orleans Hornets select….”? Maybe I do. Maybe I pray for world peace. Either would make me equally happy. Just another day at the office for Davis as he posted 27 points, 14 rebounds, and 7 blocks in a win against Arkansas. Just 19 games into the season he set Kentucky’s single season block record and at this pace he will jump into the top five in CAREER blocks at UK after just one season.

After an embarrassing performance against Florida State last Saturday, UNC bounced back with a fairly impressive win against Virginia Tech in a game that saw their two potential lottery picks play well. Harrison Barnes scored 27 points, while John Henson put up 16 and 16 in the win. They also effected the game defensively, as Henson racked up 6 blocks and Barnes contributed 3 steals, but neither guy got an assist despite playing a combined 66 minutes. I don’t know if those are the kind of “team ball” players Monty and Dell are looking for.

The other lottery pick vs. lottery pick match-up saw Jared Sullinger’s Buckeye’s crush Cody Zeller’s Hoosiers, much to Eric Gordon’s dismay. Sullinger had an average game (for him), as teammate Lenzelle Smith was simply on fire. It’s nice to see that Sullinger doesn’t mind taking a back seat to a hot teammate. Last year Ohio State needed him to be dominant to win, and he was happy to oblige. But this year they are simply more talented and he doesn’t force anything.

Meanwhile, Zeller was the lone bright spot for the Hoosiers, going 7 for 9 and scoring 16 points. Unfortunately he was in foul trouble for a large portion of the game and couldn’t be as aggressive as he would have liked. So far these two have gone head to head twice, and I scored it a draw both times. Sullinger looks like he can be a rich man’s Drew Gooden in the NBA, while Zeller has a higher ceiling due to his length and athletisicm. It will be interesting to see which one of these two is selected first next June.

My Hornets Big Board:

Not necessarily my ranking of best prospects in a vacuum. Instead, I will project the Hornets board on a week to week basis from 1-14.

1. Anthony Davis

2. Andre Drummond

3. Thomas Robinson

4. Perry Jones III

5. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist

6. Jared Sullinger

7. Bradley Beal

8. Jeremy Lamb

9. Harrison Barnes

10. Cody Zeller

11. John Henson

12. Tony Wroten, Jr.

13. Arnett Moultrie

14. Terrence Jones

Three Games to Watch:

1. #5 Missouri @ #3 Baylor- Today, 2:00 PM on ESPN

Perry Jones gets another shot against a highly ranked conference opponent. Missouri has a lot of firepower, but is one of the worst rebounding teams in the entire country and Jones needs to take advantage of that if we are going to believe he can be a force down low in the pros. Missouri is a team chalk full of seniors, and a dominating performance in this game would keep Jones in the discussion for top 3 pick.

2. #13 Indiana at Wisconsin- Thursday at 9:00PM on ESPN2

Wisconsin likes to slow the game down because they don’t have the athletes to play a run and gun style. They also don’t have the size to keep teams off the boards, so Zeller needs to impose his will in this game and show that he can be a force on both ends of the court. Against this same Wisconsin team, John Henson posted 17 rebounds and 5 blocks. If Zeller wants to show he is truly a lottery pick like Henson, we need to see similar numbers.

3. #14 Florida at Ole Miss- Thursday at 7:00 PM on ESPN2

Florida has really struggled on the road this year, and freshman phoenom Bradley Beal has been no exception. Ole Miss is a tough place to play, and NBA scouts know that, so it would be huge if Beal can go in there and shoot lights out. He seems to have found his three-point stroke as of late and he has been getting to the line as well in his last two games. If Beal can continue those trends, he could be the first guard off the board in the 2012 draft.

Looking to the future is a weekly column that posts every Saturday only on Hornets247. For past articles, click here.

 

24 comments
Bee dat
Bee dat

in terms of the unc prospects think you have to put henson ahead of barnes

Jo D
Jo D

I wouldn't touch barnes until mid first round...

Blattman
Blattman

Great article. I really like Cody Zeller. The hoosier connection with Gordon will ease the transition to the pro and he, according to his twitter account, seems to be very spiritual, so good fit with Monty. High character with talent and upside, you can't ask for more (ok, maybe some muscle to stay in the paint).

Jo D
Jo D

I've said it from the start Thomas Robinson!!! Dude is beast! I think him and MKG would be like a perfect world scenario in my opinion. I wouldn't be upset with anthony davis... Just not as excited... Other than that... theres only one name the hive will fall in love with... Myck KABONGO!!!!

DownUnder
DownUnder

Haha Im completely with you there

Eli
Eli

Does anybody think there is even the slightest chance of Deron Williams signing with us this offseason? I mean, maybe he'll realize that we're a team on the rise and he and our two picks along with our young guys we already have can turn this team into a contender pretty soon.

Bee dat
Bee dat

if hes telling nets get me howard or im out, that probably rules out our motley squad

BRballboy
BRballboy

Very much like the " Future" posts. I hope we can get an elite PF with our top 6/7 pick, a C with Minn pick ( Zeller/Leonard ), and a PG later in the round with a trade aquired pick. Maybe Teague or Kabongo. When I watch the Hornets now, I cheer myself by thinking about some of the good values we've uncovered for next years 2nd unit. But where are the starters? Two new bigs in the draft blended with Gordon, Jack , and Ariza? A new PG via trade or draft? Does Dell even know? Finding out and watching role player development is what has my interest for now. WWDD?

ImSorryMonty
ImSorryMonty

Maybe it's just me but everytime people pass up the solid, all-around, star in college to draft the "upside" guy, I want to throw crap at my TV. I would take Sullinger in a heartbeat over anybody not named Anthony Davis.

Bee dat
Bee dat

you mean like oden over durant, bowie over..

J
J

why no one talking about Damian Lillard from Weber St this kid is a beast at PG

Jo D
Jo D

Also in regards to Lillard, I'm not sold on him at all... He will need a tourney for the ages for me to want my team to take him on anything higher than late second... The guy is a great scorer on the college level. But remember he is a point guard. I don't want a score first point guard leading this team unless his name rhymes with Merrick Pose... And that simply isn't happening lol... I have a hard enough time watching JJ miss open teammates and pass out late in the shot clock forcing a teammate to take a rushed shot while bailing himself out... Back to the college scorers... A few recent names who were prolific scorers... Bo McCaleb- in Europe Adam Morrison- his couch Trey Johnson- Hornets bench Be weary of college scorers...

Jo D
Jo D

Lol, gotcha

Jo D
Jo D

"may have changed" is the correct wording... Arvydas Macijauskas (spelling)??? Remember him.. He was a BALLER in europe before and after the hornets... Until morrison shows something in the NBA, he is still a prolific college scorer that failed to make it in the league.. Harsh Truth

Jason Calmes
Jason Calmes

Agreed 100%. Also updating your where in the world is adam morrison tracking device. Change his couch to Europe.

Bee dat
Bee dat

still boggles my mind that we cant throw the fans a bone and bring bolesyer home fom europe. he has to be >= squeaky, possibly much better. seems like such a nobrainer the way we need help @ pg

Jason Calmes
Jason Calmes

Things may have changed, but Morrison was having quite the resurgence in Europe. http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2011/writers/sam_amick/11/22/adam.morrison/index.html I think we can be happy for the guy, especially if it keeps up, yeah? Not a jab, just pounced because this is one of the three things I know about such `missing players', and I had to say it so everyone thinks I know alot more. I sure do hope that worked. It'd be silly for me to waste that. Only two more left . . . gotta make 'em count . . .

Michael McNamara
Michael McNamara

If the Hornets pick up a mid-to-late first rounder, maybe. But I am banking on the Hornets having two lotto picks this June. Lillard can score, that's for sure, but I have a feeling the Hornets want to get young bigs and find veteran point guards to run this squad.

Tim
Tim

As far as the Hornets' interests go, I think I'd put Barnes over Beal and Lamb,

Jason Calmes
Jason Calmes

To someone tired and out of their gourd, that looks like Beans over Veal and Lamb. Sounds good.

DownUnder
DownUnder

I watched the Baylor at Kansas game this week, as well as the duke v Wake game and the UNC v VT game. I just want to say that T-Rob is now my most favored college player and second on my personal draft board, Tony 'the boney' Davis is clearly the most promising prospect but his game doesnt excite me like T-Robs does. Im dissapointed that i wont see the Kansas and Texas game, because i also would have liked to have seen Myak Kabongo play. The stats that he's put up so far are very dissapointing but I still think he's got good PG ability and though likely to stay in school another year, he's another one of my favourites. Harrison Barnes is an interesting case, the writers here as well as people everywhere point to his game that doesnt involve scoring as the biggest question mark. I thinkhis NBA career success will be determined by the coach he has and system as well as his coachability. An interesting point i would like to make is that he's per 40 stats are almost identical to Kevin Durants freshaman year stats except for rebounding and blks. Now im not saying Harrsion will be like KD, thats a very unprofessional assessment to make but its just food for thought. Rudy Gay's college stats in his second year is also similar except down across the scoring statistics but again, just food for thought.