Looking to the Future: Big Games Clarify Draft Picture

Published: February 11, 2012

Rivalry Week helps Hornets sort out their draft board

While it is fun to watch a guy go off for 52 against NW Jabroni State, GM’s tend to focus on what prospects do against big time college programs when making their selections. This week we saw several matchups that featured top prospects going head to head, and as a result, the draft board has come into focus.

#7 Florida (58) at #1 Kentucky (78)

The only chance Anthony Davis doesn’t go #1 is if some Division 1 player crawls down into a cave and finds alien crystals that give him super powers that he decides to use on the court. Davis is that good, and whichever team selects him will have a franchise changer on their hands. But GM’s already knew that- what they really wanted to see in this game was how two other lottery picks (Kidd-Gilchrist and Bradley Beal) would perform.

Gilchrist practically had a double-double at the half, finishing with 13 and 13. He was a terror on defense, and his ability to rebound allowed Kentucky to get out on the break time after time. Meanwhile, Beal was explosive in the first half, but as Kentucky made their run Beal started to settle for perimeter shots and he just could not hit (1-7  from three). The comparison for Beal is clear, although I have not seen it made before. He is the young Allen Houston, a guy who can get to the bucket, hit a mid-range shot, and be as deadly as anyone when his deep stroke is on. He is not in that Elite 6, but he is standing just outside of it and could go anywhere between 8 and 13 in the upcoming draft.

#9 Duke (85) at #5 North Carolina (84)

This game will forever be remembered for Austin Rivers’ big three-pointer at the buzzer, but there were many telling moments long before that shot was drained. Harrison Barnes was silky smooth all night and got to the line almost every time he took the ball to the rim on his way to 25 points. Per ususal, Barnes didn’t make a huge impact outside of scoring, but aren’t we starting to nitpick here? Perhaps people are spoiled by guys like Lebron who can go out and get a triple-double on any given night and play lock down defense. Barnes will never be that kind of player, but can he be what Joe Johnson was in his prime? Definitely. Barnes will be a top five pick if he comes out this year, even though all he can do is score. As if that is so bad.

Tyler Zeller and Kendall Marshall also boosted their stock in this game, locking themselves into that mid-first round territory. And while John Henson’s line looked impressive (12 points, 17 rebounds), it is simply brutal to watch him on the offensive end in a game like this where there are so many talented players on the floor. If Marshall wasn’t on the court to get Henson easy buckets, he would struggle to score five points per game.

And that brings us back to Austin Rivers, who had the sports world buzzing the next day. Trending on Twitter, a lead topic on 1st and 10, you name it and Rivers was being talked about. Like Barnes, people love to pick apart his game because he isn’t well rounded, but how many NBA players are? While its true that he is too small to play shooting guard, and he is too selfish to play point, there are guys like Monta Ellis who thrive in the league without a true position. Rivers plays a lot like Ellis, and is more talented than Jimmer Fredette (who went 10th last year), so being selected at the end of the lottery is not out of the question for Rivers.

#10 Kansas (68) at #6 Baylor (54)

Perry Jones III dreams of being a top five pick officially died on this night, as he was thoroughly outplayed once again by Thomas Robinson. Perry Jones was 1-8, scoring just one more point (5) than he had fouls committed (4). Jones just looked completely lost out there and was rather lethargic for such a big game. Robinson, meanwhile, looked like a polished product who could contribute in the league tomorrow.

At some point in the next two months Jones will do something that excites NBA GM’s- he will have a Dunk of the Night on SportsCenter, or fill up the box score against some Big XII also-ran, but if they are smart, they will slip in this game tape to see who it is they are drafting. Jones is a tremendous athlete, and a good kid, but his motor is questionable and he has no leadership skills to speak of. Just a month ago, Jones was being talked about as the #2 overall pick, while Robinson wasn’t even mentioned as somebody who could go top 5. Because of the last four weeks, and this game imparticular, those two have completely traded places.

Hornets Draft Board (Projected)

1. Anthony Davis- If he comes out, Davis is the first pick no matter which team is drafting.

2. Thomas Robinson- Production (Robinson, Sullinger) vs. Potential (Drummond). Production wins. 

3. Jared Sullinger- See above.

4. Andre Drummond- Just doesn’t have the feel of a dominant player around the basket, but neither did Dwight Howard at his age. Potential is enormous. 

5. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist- Edges out Barnes because Demps values intangibles and defense. Gilchrist is a 10 in both areas. 

6. Harrison Barnes- Hornets fans will fall in love with Barnes because it is tough to watch a team that can’t crack the 90 point barrier. Barnes will be an elite scorer in NBA.

7. Jeremy Lamb- He grades out higher than Beal because he is a proven winner and has good enough ball handling to play with Gordon in the back court.

8. Brad Beal- Almost too similar to Eric Gordon to take with Minny pick, but if Demps gets the feeling that Gordon wants out, he could be a great replacement.

9. Perry Jones- Too much upside to bypass if he falls this far, but I would bet Demps is hoping he doesn’t have to take the gamble.

10. Terrance Ross- A sleeper and a fresh face to the top 10, Ross also possesses top notch intangibles and shooting ability. Defense needs to improve. 

11. Cody Zeller- High IQ for such a young player, Zeller could develop behind ‘Mek and give the Hornets a top 10 center three or four years down the road. 

12. Austin Rivers- Dell and Monty will fall in love with a son of a coach, who could be this generation’s Dell Curry for the new look Hornets. 

13. Marquis Teague- He is improving every game for Kentucky and compares favorably to someone like Jrue Holliday. Would make excellent partner down the line for Gordon.

14. Arnett Moultrie- Can get lazy at times, but is an outstanding athlete who can possibly be the best scoring big in this draft if he reaches his potential.




  1. 504ever

    February 11, 2012 at 5:12 pm


    We disagree on the Carolina boys: Barnes, Zeller, and Marshall.

    Here is Barne’s stat line frrom the Duke game:

    Barnes, 35 8-16 1-3 8-12 2 3 1 2
    0 2 4 25

    • Michael McNamara

      February 11, 2012 at 5:15 pm

      Now you got me curious- tell me what the disagreement is.

      I said Barnes could be Joe Johnson, called him an elite scorer in this piece, etc. Are you saying we disagree because you think he is horrible?

  2. 504ever

    February 11, 2012 at 5:20 pm

    Barnes 35 8-16 1-3 8-12 2 3 1 2
    0 2 4 25

    Barnes had more fouls than rebounds or assists. Plus he guarded Rivers much of the night and Rivers had a career high 29 points. I say Barnes is fools gold and Del knows it.

    And I’d insert Marshall’s name for Zeller’s on your list. Zeller is no where near strong enough to play in the NBA, and may never be. Marshall looks to be at worst a 2nd team NBA player.

    Overall I like your list. I just think someone needs to put stat in these articles to we can all see how poorly Drummond shoots and how little he scores, to sight one example.

    • Bee dat

      February 11, 2012 at 9:32 pm

      i love Marshall’s potential and that is the position we have the greatest need. i see him as a super spark off the bench even as a rookie. we’ve been lacking that.

      also higher than most on henson, who is slowly developing a jump shot and who’s dfensive instincts rival adavis’s

    • carpo

      February 12, 2012 at 8:58 am

      a 6’9 sf guarding a lightning combo guard is never going to be preferable, and rivers was lighting it up from all over the place

  3. 504ever

    February 11, 2012 at 5:22 pm

    I don’t see Barnes as a every night player in the NBA. I see him as a situational scorer off of the bench.

    • macs21

      February 12, 2012 at 7:04 pm

      Situational players dont average 18PPG in 25 minutes with crazy efficiency (and room for improvement) in college..

      Situational players score inefficiently but effectively in college (i.e. Austin Rivers, tony wroten JR)

  4. Eli

    February 11, 2012 at 8:07 pm

    …or we could just sign a smart asian player and hope he turns into the next jeremy lin

  5. Bee dat

    February 11, 2012 at 9:29 pm

    speaking of which linsanitu just struck the teenwolves! can u say 3 game losing streak?!?

  6. Tim

    February 11, 2012 at 9:35 pm

    @504ever- Situational scorer off the bench, are you joking? His jump shot is as smooth as they come. It’s not easy to score 18 points a night in the ACC. This kid can play. Is he my favorite player the Hornets could get? No. Will I be happy if we draft him? Hell yes.

    • 504ever

      February 12, 2012 at 7:56 am


      Think Dennis Scott, another 6’8″ ACC product with a much better stroke than Barnes. (Barnes has a nice 3pt average but on a low volume of shots. He averages 1 made 3pt shot per game. Scott was a prolific, and superb, 3pt shooter.)

      The thing they both have in common at this stage of their careers is they can get their shot off in college with their height. They bring nothing else to the table but scoring, both primarily from outside. They never developed the rest of their game in college programs and the ACC where a complete game was emphasized. They have been playing all of their lives and have one dimensional games! (They are the anti Jared Sullingers.)

      Consider that this may never change for Barnes. Then consider how hard it will be for Barnes to get his shot off in the NBA when he is guarded by taller, more athletic players than he has seen in college. When NBA inside players can block his shot and he has poor passing skills so he has to shoot on the drive anyway.

      Remember, Barnes was supposed to be a 1st team All American as a college freshman and never came close, even in a time of a low number of high quality college basketball players because of the ‘one and done’ NBA rule.

      It’s easy to see him never being more than he is now, a nice NBA scorer who lacks a complete game so he can’t be on the floor full time (unless he goes to Sacremento where only scoring matters).

      Personally I hope Barnes figures it out this year, but I am not holding my breath. I have seen too many times when Barnes doesn’t get back on D, just sits on the perimeter calling for the ball on offense, doesn’t attempt to rebound, etc. I guarantee this stuff scares the hell out of a quality GM like Dell, especially when you know his current and prior coaches have tried to get Barnes to change.

      • Michael McNamara

        February 12, 2012 at 8:02 am

        See- this is why I think people have a problem with Barnes. He came in overhyped, and now people nitpick every thing he does wrong. If he was the #95 HS prospect coming out and then played the exact same way, people would be all excited about him, saying “Where did this kid come from?!”

        Instead, he is a very good movie that everyone has been telling you for weeks is the greatest film ever. If you would have saw him with no expectations, you would be impressesd. That 1st team All-NCAA was the worst thing that could have ever happened to him.

        At the end, it doesn’t matter- Hornets will go big if they land top 4 pick and Barnes won’t be there for Minny pick, but the guy will score in this league.

      • 504ever

        February 12, 2012 at 8:15 am

        Don’t agree about hype being relevant. Think who the #1 pick was last year? A played very seldom (11 college games) college FRESHMAN who is doing just fine in Cleveland. And Barnes’ play was so bad he could even come out.

        Do agree Hornets will not draft Barnes for the reasons Michael states.

      • RockyMountain

        February 12, 2012 at 6:52 pm

        If there’s one reason I won’t draft Barnes, it’s because I just don’t see him being a superstar. He’ll be solid, around former UNC Marvin Williams, maybe a bit higher/lower depending on how much he develops.

        I’d rather go after potential superstars over solid right now. This is what this team needs, a player that people want to watch. And a superstar is what any franchise needs to win it all. That’s why I would put ADavis and Drummond as one and two, and Robinson, Sullinger, Barnes, Perry Jones, etc below that. If Tony Wrotten comes out, I’d put him with ADavis and Drummond.

      • macs21

        February 12, 2012 at 7:11 pm

        How can you even compare Williams to Barnes? Williams never even started for UNC.

        Meanwhile, Barnes plays on a team with 3 other first round picks. His team Leads the ACC (and almost the NCAA) in rebounds. Anybody think maybe that’s why his boards are down? Note he averaged more last year when Henson was raw(er)

        Also, saying his play wasnt good enough last year? He dropped 20 a game after january. Cleveland have said they wouldve taken him first over Irving (and I’ll be theyre now stoked they didn’t.)

        Also, he’s projects to be a quality defender at the NBA level. Sure, not as good as Gilchrist but that’s not really a bad thing. Gilchrist is awesome. He’ll be tony allen +7/8 PPG by his 3rd year.

        Barned on the other hand will give you 18+ a night with solid defence. Sort of like Danny Granger combined with Corey Brewer.

        And for someone who can only score from the outside he sure does take a lot of FT’s (5.5 per game with an NCAA leader with 9)

        No one calls lamb, rivers and Beal one dimensional yet they average less FT’s than Barnes.

        Definitely with Michael on the overhyped aspect.

      • RockyMountain

        February 12, 2012 at 8:42 pm

        @mac I don’t care about starting or not. I just look at their games. Very solid for both. But nothing spectacular. I watch his game on youtube before he played a single game for UNC (after hearing all the hype, all american before playing a single game, etc) and I seriously didn’t get why he was hyped that way, why he was selected to the all american team.

      • macs21

        February 12, 2012 at 10:14 pm

        See I generally wouldn’t describe Marvin Williams as a solid player.. He’s not a starter. He’s not really an effective role player. I don’t think he’d be a top 7 player on a contender because he has no differentiating skill. I like to think of him an the anti-Tony Allen.

        Barnes on the otherhand is a very good scorer. Plus he’s generally a smoother and better athlete than Williams. Apprently Williams work ethic isn’t great either whereas all the raps on Barnes are that he works VERY hard on his game.

        @504 where are you pulling your comment on Barnes about his current and prior coaches trying to get him to change his game? I’ve read heaps on Barnes coz I’m a huge fan and pretty much every time it gets mentioned they mention how hard he works.

        If anything, they mention giving him some leeway due to the fact that his team is stacked with NBA level rebounders and an NBA level facilitator.

  7. George

    February 12, 2012 at 7:54 am

    I just get the feeling Perry Jones is just going to be another Anthony Randolph, I would draft Tyler Zeller and John Henson over him easily and I wouldn’t be surprised if Kevin Jones and Ricardo Ratliffe had more successful NBA careers than him

  8. JP

    February 12, 2012 at 8:00 am

    if rivers is still on the board, i dont think we can pass on this kid cause as we’ve seen this year, wee cant score and he’ll put peopl in the stands. and as for being to selfish, the nba is a one on one league anyway

    • 504ever

      February 12, 2012 at 8:22 am

      Rivers isn’t as good as people think either. He is a lot like Barnes, needs the ball in his hands to be effective. What Rivers has going for him is an all around game, but Barnes is slightly more athletic. Hope Rivers stays one more year to improve his decisionmaking and get a little more seasoning.

      Rivers is like Marshall to me. Would be an out of the box 2nd teamer if he came out this year. If Rivers stays another year, runs the offense more etc., then he becomes more of a 1st teamer in my eye. Not sure I see Marshall becoming a 1st teamer in just one more year.


    February 12, 2012 at 1:49 pm

    You draft the best player on the board when it’s your pick, you don’t draft a big just bcuz you need a big. That would put a franchise back by drafting a Greg Oden, Michael Olowokandi, or even Hilton Armstrong type player. With the first pick we must draft Anthony Davis but at #2 we must go with Harrison Barnes bcuz he’s the second best player in this draft. With a roster that’s deep with young wing players, we could always trade for a big or sign a free agent. You never reach in a draft for a position that’s needed on your roster, always draft the best available player. I agree Harrison Barnes won’t be there for the Minny pick but there’s a good chance that Fab Melo, Meyers Leonard, Patric Young, or Tyler Zeller would. We already have a player in Aminu who can play at the #4 spot. We have options with our bigs til which we don’t have to reach for a player. Plus we still have Okafor who is a C/PF.

    • RockyMountain

      February 12, 2012 at 6:44 pm

      I agree we go for best player available, though I think that’s what Portland was thinking too when they drafted Oden, same with Clippers etc.

      I really hope Tony Wrotten comes out and we get him.

      • BIGBREED

        February 13, 2012 at 9:21 am

        1st- Michael Olowokandi – 7’0 (Pacific; Always draft a Big first)
        2nd- Mike Bibby 6’0 PG (Arizona)
        3rd- Raef LaFrentz 6’11 PF(Kansas; Paul Pierce carried that team)
        4th- Antawn Jamison 6’9 PF (North Carolina)
        5th- Vince Carter 6’6 SG (North Carolina)
        9th- Dirk Nowitzki 7’0 PF (Germany)
        10th- Paul Pierce 6’8 SF (Kansas)

        LOL….You really think thats what the Clippers brass were thinking now? Dude stop!

  10. macs21

    February 12, 2012 at 7:15 pm

    Oh and with the second pick if its around the 13 mark. Personally I’d go for Meyers Leonard or Tony Wroten JR. This is assuming we get a top 4 pick and take on of the PF’s available there.

    never know, Dell could surprise us all and take Barnes 2 or 3..


      February 13, 2012 at 9:35 am

      It wouldn’t be a surprise to me! Don’t we need a scorer? You can’t count on EJ to last an entire season, bcuz thats something that he rarely does! The Hornets need a 1-2 punch and Harrison Barnes along w/ EJ would bring that to Monty’s offense. I’m not worried about the defense bcuz Monty like to play the same defensive scheme the Spur’s play….team defense(defending your opponents space in a Man-to-Man defense)


    February 12, 2012 at 7:47 pm

    @rockymountain Kevin Durant was the best player coming out of college that year, PERIOD! I know and watch “ALL” college basketball games and judge players w/o that “East Coast Media Bias”! Those “BigTime Games” that Kevin Durant played In that year, showed his character/heart as a player. Durant played in more pressure type games then Greg Oden did in his college career. Plus injury plague Greg Oden in college! Everybody in the media was talking that, “if there’s a big man on the board, you have to go big” crap! Haven’t we learn anything from Portland & Sam Bowie?

    {in my Blain Edwards voice from In Living Color}
    I got 3 words……
    Michael Jeffery Jordan, and I’m through!

    *Harrison Barnes has the game of a younger Joe Johnson or Carmelo Anthony


    February 12, 2012 at 8:00 pm

    ….and in the final 4mins in a game w/ the score tide, with the world looking, and each possession of each team is intense. Look into his eyes at his calm demeanor and see the confidence & heart that it takes to be Great!

    -That’s who I want on my team, a warrior who doesn’t fold under pressure! He embraces that moment of being Great!(and only a few Athelete’s have that)

    • RockyMountain

      February 12, 2012 at 8:37 pm

      I guess that’s where we disagree. I don’t see that from Barnes. Maybe effort once in a while. But no production. I especially see failure to dominate in big games as the potential non-superstar in Barnes.

      And with regard to Oden, I live in Big 12 region, so I watch KD too. It’s not the must take big men crap, it’s just that if you have 2 guys who project to be great, one is a big, and another isn’t, then you take the big because great bigs are hard to find. What prompts people to think Oden was going to be great is another issue…


    February 12, 2012 at 10:11 pm

    You may have lived in the region of the Big 12 but that doesn’t make you know talent. KD closed “alot” of big time games with 1 shot at the buzzy or score Texas final 8 pts to close out/come back in a victory. It’s documented and written in stone! And I further question you basketball eye for talent from your response of not seeing that in Harrison Barnes. It’s on tape and the eye in the sky don’t lie! It’s on tape…


    February 13, 2012 at 12:53 am

    One of the Hornets biggest problem is the lack of height in the front court since the Tyson Chandler trade. We already have a undersized Center in A 6’10 Okafor. So why would we drafted a undersized PF in 6’8.5 Thomas Robinson. Since the Hornets lack height at C & PF positions, plus ERic Gordon at SG being 6’3, the Hornet needs height with consistant talent with that 1st pick. Anthony Davis (6’11 PF) and Harrison Barnes (6’8 SF) will bring that to any roster in thus draft. Sullinger having the best footwork in the blocks is only 6’9 and battles injuries. Drummond has the height but is inconsistent with his play.
    Let’s look at the play on the wing in the matchup problems that Rudy Gay and Melo bring to opposing defenses. At worst if Harrison Barnes fails, he’ll be our Jamal Mashburn 2.0

    -Picking Harrison Barnes with the second overall pick is a no brainer!

  15. Everett

    February 13, 2012 at 11:42 am

    We need scoring. Let’s not outsmart ourselves. If Barnes is available and Davis isn’t, we need to draft Barnes. Let’s not confuse Barnes with Marvin Williams. Williams played one season at UNC and was not a crucial part of their offense; scouts fell in love with him because of his athleticism and just assumed the offense would come…it never has. Barnes actually has a polished, proven offensive game and is used to scoring points even when he’s the focus of the opposition’s defensive game plan. You can’t pass on scoring in the NBA, you just can’t, especially when you have a roster full of guys who can’t score.

  16. da ThRONe

    February 13, 2012 at 1:33 pm

    I agree with the philosophy that you have to take position and team need out of the equation and just draft for talent. Epecially at the top of the board.

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