Looking to the Future: Let the Games Begin

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Published: April 3, 2012

Don’t think that the fight for draft position is over just because the actual games have ended.

Dell Demps spent the last few days watching several of this year’s prospects up close and  personal as the Final Four, but in some ways, his job has just begun. In the next few months, guys will be measured, poked and prodded, asked to jump standing still, jump with a running start. They will compete one-on-one, three-on-three, and one-on-none. But the most important part of the process will be the interviews, and this is where Dell Demps will thrive. Up until now, he has been unable to sit across a table from a prospect and grill them on their work ethic and their love for the game. The Hornets, under Demps and Monty, are all about building a certain culture and all of the game tapes in the world can not tell Dell what he wants to know about the character of these guys.

I trust Dell to bring in the guys that will fit the blue collar mentality of this team, but without knowing them myself, all I can do is judge them by what I see on the court. In this week’s edition, I look at the six players that are in consideration for our top pick and then I match them with the best guy likely to be available with the Minnesota pick (10th as of right now).

Candidates for Hornets Pick

1. Anthony Davis, PF, Kentucky

There is no way he is not the #1 pick, and if he stays healthy in the pros, he is a franchise changer but not in a Derrick Rose or Kevin Durant kind of way. Think more along the lines of Bill Russell or Tim Duncan. For those who criticize his offensive game, just know that Anthony Davis is miles ahead of Duncan or Hakeem at the same age. He can handle the ball like a guard, has a better stroke than most college small forwards, and has fantastic low post footwork. Best case scenario is that the Hornets have a 20% chance at Davis in May’s draft lottery. So, if you believe in a multi-verse, in one out of every five worlds, the Hornets dynasty is right around the corner.

Ideal Teammate: Austin Rivers, G, Duke 

If you are going to project Davis as the next Tim Duncan or Bill Russell, then you are going to want to follow their model by surrounding him with guards that can score. San Antonio never really had a true point guard; instead, Parker and Ginobli have shared the load and Rivers and EG10 can do the same thing. Rivers is a liability on defense, but Davis will erase any and all mistakes.

2. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, SF, Kentucky

MKG effects the game in so many ways, and is truly a coaches dream come true. Kentucky has unleashed him defensively, putting him on the other teams’ best perimeter player. Several times this year, including in the Monday’s title game, MKG locked down the other teams’ point guard, yet he still grabbed boards and blocked shots. Offensively, his jump shot is inconsistant, mostly because of his form. He pushes the ball, rather than releasing it off of his finger tips. But he is excellent in the open court and cuts hard in the half court. He probably won’t average 20 PPG in the pros, unless he is in a Phoenix-type of system with an elite PG, but he will effect the game in so many ways and be a leader in the locker room. Imagine a more mature, better shooting Shawn Marion in his prime.

Ideal Teammate: Kendall Marshall, PG, UNC

It is easy to say that the Hornets should go big if they take MKG, but hold on just a second. Think about the Marshall/Gilchrist partnership and how lethal they can be with Gordon in the back court. MKG needs to get out and run and Marshall is one of the best open court point guards to come out in years when it comes to getting easy buckets for teammates. Meanwhile, what is Marshall’s biggest weakness? Now that he has improved his jumper, it is his defense. Well, Gordon can cover the 1 or the 2 and MKG can cover the 1,2, and 3- meaning that the Hornets can just put Marshall on the other teams’ worst perimeter player. Get your big next year or go find another Ayon.

3. Thomas Robinson, PF, Kansas

Whether it is fair or not, Robinson’s draft status will rely somewhat on how he measures in the pre-draft workouts. He was guarded all night by Terrance Jones in the title game, who is listed as 6’9″ and Robinson looked shorter. He had a tough time in the title game, but I don’t think that had to do with Kentucky’s length as much as it had to do with Robinson rushing and trying to do too much. Robinson should wow GM’s in the interview process and he has a fantastic blend of production and upside, but if he measures 6’8″, that all might be thrown out the window.

Ideal Teammate: Tyler Zeller, Center, UNC

Gordon and Robinson will play pick and roll all day, so no need to grab a guy who needs the ball to impact the game. Enter Zeller, a true center who can play from day one and will do all the little things needed to help your team win. Robinson and Zeller might not be the most talented front line every night, but they will never be outhustled or outworked.

4. Andre Drummond, C, UConn

If the three guys listed above are all gone by the time the Hornets pick, Dell Demps will be faced with a tough decision. Basically, the choice will come down to Bradley Beal, Jared Sullinger, and Drummond- and they all have as many cons as they have pros. Beal just happens to play a lot like the supposed cornerstone of the franchise, Eric Gordon, which makes him redundant. Sullinger has a limited ceiling and is a liability on the defensive end. And Drummond has the highest ceiling, by far, but he had a disappointing freshman year and people see Kwame Brown or Thabeet when they look at him.

Really, it is all a matter of personal opinion, but I would take Drummond here for a few reasons. The biggest one is that contrary to what we see from guys like Anthony Davis, most bigs are horrible in their freshman seasons. Go ahead and look up the freshman stats of the #3 guy on this list. 2.5 PPG, 40% FT shooter. Yes, I know he didn’t play a ton, but isn’t that kinda supporting the argument? He wasn’t good enough to play. Should Drummond be penalized because he was just good enough to get time, but not good enough to dominate?

Keep digging and you will find a ton of centers who have succeeded in the NBA but did not have good freshman seasons in college. Greg Monroe was considered a disappointment his freshman year in college after being a top 3 recruit. Joakim Noah barely played or produced in his freshman year, same goes for Al Horford and Roy Hibbert. Point is, that you can’t just give up on a big with this much potential and promise because he did not dominate in his freshman season- especially when you consider all the turmoil surrounding that program and the fact that their guards dominated the ball.

Ideal Teammate: Kendall Marshall

For Drummond to succeed on the offensive end, he will have to get some easy buckets while he works on the other aspects of his game. Marshall’s playmaking ability and overall leadership will be a perfect mix for Drummond’s raw ability and low key demeanor.

5. Bradley Beal, SG, Florida

Yes, Beal is a Gordon clone in some ways, but isn’t there a saying about not being able to have too much of a good thing? Again, I would prefer the Hornets to trade the pick if they were in this spot, but for the point of these rankings that is not an option. Beal would give the Hornets insurance in case Gordon leaves or can’t get healthy, and there is a small chance that they could play together since they both can handle the ball and Eric Gordon can cover most point guards. Not ideal, but a better option than the rest.

Ideal Teammate: John Henson, PF, UNC

Whether they draft Beal to take over for Gordon or to pair with Gordon, the fact of the matter is that the Hornets will have an undersized back court and they will need to protect the rim. Henson can do just that, and he is improving on the offensive end as well. People will see Branden Wright, just because of the UNC jersey and the skinny frame, but Henson is a much different player than Wright. Leaving college, Wright’s only offense came at the rim, but Henson has a legit post-up game and an improving jumper that he displayed this year.

6. Jared Sullinger, PF, Ohio State

Guys like Sullinger get unfairly bashed because the expectations are so high, while guys like Royce White get overly praised because the average fan has no idea who they are heading into the tournament. Yes, Jared Sullinger has flaws and limitations, but there is only one guy in this draft that doesn’t have glaring issues. People tend to take highly rated prospects and focus on what they can’t do, but what about the things Sullinger CAN do. He can dominate the post if guarded one-on-one. He can take the guy guarding him out to the three-point line, he can pass out of the double team, and he can play within the framework of a team concept. Some mock drafts have Sullinger falling to the Minny pick, but I think the backlash will end by June and GM’s will start to remember what they loved about him in the first place. Guys like Sullinger might not become perennial All-Stars, but they very rarely fail and there is some value in that.

Ideal Teammate: Terrance Jones, SF/PF, Kentucky

Jones is more of a combo forward who can play inside and outside, but isn’t that what Sullinger is developing into as well? Depending on the match-ups that night, they could play off each other, with the guy who has the weaker defender taking the low block while the other stretches the defense from the outside. Both guys can pound smaller defenders on the block or take bigger guys off the dribble, making them quite an intriguing pair.

Honerable Mention (for Hornets pick): Harrison Barnes, F, UNC – doesn’t fit Hornets philosophy. Cody Zeller, C, Indiana- Will likely return to school.

Looking to the Future is a weekly column that you can find every week, only on Hornets247.com. For past columns, click here.

 

27 comments
loudlikepat
loudlikepat

ha! good read after draft. Good call on perfect team mate. Can't wait for the season to start gearing up.

Everett
Everett

The more I think about it, the more I like picking Henson with our second lotto pick. We need someone who can protect the rim. He's got long arms and is a pretty good leaper. You don't really have to run plays for him, he can get easy points on lobs and putbacks. I don't see Drummond justifying a top 5 draft position. The recent past is littered with big men who have gone in the top 5, but have been either underwhelming or injury-prone. Also, the financial liability that comes with a top-5 pick is so much higher than that which comes with a mid first rounder; if you're going to have that much money committed to a guy, you want someone who you know will contribute, not a high-ceiling, low-floor guy.

BRballboy
BRballboy

Assume we keep Gordon. Chris and Carl are goners. We still have 2 PFs making 4 mil between them in Smith & Ayon. Not much need for any PF. MKG doesn't seem to be all star quality now (ever?) and Ariza as a stopper that can get you 15 pts backed up by Aminu not shabby. Backcourts 1 & 2 look pretty good & with Gordon added in no need at SG. Davis no brainer, but 20 % shot. I take Drummond ( 18 yrs old ) for chance of greatness if Davis is gone. Insure with another C at pick 10-12. Either of the Zellers, Leonard, a fallen Sullinger, or a couple of others help replace our 2 bigs and play in the rotation even if Drummond busts. If not 2 bigs, I would certainly like Marshall. But centers are usually very rare and this year we could get 2 pretty easily

J
J

Can't wait for May 30th

clef504
clef504

Davis and rivers. Good choices. With Gordon back next year we will have instant offense and a very solid defense. Can't beat that.

David
David

Btw, Davis is a long way from Duncan, Shaq, or Hakeem. I meant at this age, his post game is similar or more refined. I think Davis isn't as athletically gifted as Shaq, close to Olajuwon, and has more physical tools than Duncan. That being said, he is way ahead of Shaq and Olajuwon skill/fundamentally wise and not as much as Duncan coming out.

Dr. Hamburg
Dr. Hamburg

Obviously I would want Davis as the #1 pick but after that it gets kinda scary. I really like MKG and he should be the #2 pick, but is his ceiling as high as Drummonds could be? Same goes for Robinson, I would want the Hornets to be title contenders and they need a franchise changer. Sure, you can pay Gordon big bucks to keep him, but would MKG, Gordon, and say Marshall bring this team into title contention in the future? I am not so sure, I think I might rather roll the dice on a guy like Drummond and hope for the best. Thats hard to say because I think he will be a bust, but being a 6-8 seed is getting really old for the Hornets :(

David
David

If you think Davis is the 6th or 7th best player in this draft, you.....well, let's all just be thankful you aren't our GM. I wish Cuban would hire you. Davis is DOMINANT on the defensive end of the floor. Not like 7'3 Thabeet just being taller than everyone and racking up blocks, but his timing, footwork, and positioning is better than 90% of NBA bigs TODAY. He had less than 5 games all year long where he had more than four fouls in a game! With 180+ blocked shots! He was a guard just three years ago. He can handle, shoot free throws, and has a more refined post game than Duncan, Shaq, or Olajuwon at his age. He needs to get stronger, and continue to develop, but the most important thing is this: HE PLAYS HIS ASS OFF. He plays hard all the time, has a good work ethic, and will put the work in to improve. Calipari was on Mike n Mike this morning and said he is best suited as a THREE in the NBA! Again, pairing him with either Kaman or Okafor, who are strong enough to match up with the opposing teams best post player, would allow him to get stronger and still rack up blocks on the weakside and make up for the lack of length by Okafor.

Bigeauz
Bigeauz

I could see him playing spot 3 in certain line ups, but he's best on inside. That is interesting though. Food for thought.

simon
simon

He's pretty much Josh SMith but way less of a space cadet

Bigeauz
Bigeauz

I mentioned this in another post, but I don't mind repeating myself. I think that the only way you take Drummond is if you hit on Davis with the first pick. Too risky otherwise, but if he pans out, what a load those two will be together. I'd rather take something a little safer if I'm picking 4th or 5th and that's my big shot to hit it big in this talented class, or maybe even trade out of that position. My 2 cents.

da ThRONe
da ThRONe

My ideal draft will be to get Robinson and Kidd-Gilchirst. Honestly I would like to trade Gordon and get three picks this draft and add Drummond if we can. I'm on record as not wanting Anthony Davis I think he's grossly overrated and I think he's the 6th or 7th best pro in this draft.

Jack
Jack

Davis is just all about growing potential his ceiling is sky high

Eli
Eli

Some interesting facts on the draft lottery that should raise our hopes about picking first and drafting Anthony Davis in June. The NBA's current draft lottery system has been used for the past 18 years. Here is a list showing how many times it was won by each numbered-lottery team. The worst team in the league, or team with the highest chance of winning the lottery, is number 1, the second worst is number 2, and so on. 1: Two (11.1%) 2: Four (22.2%) 3: Four (22.2%) 4: Zero (0%) 5: Four (22.2%) 6: Two (11.1%) 7: One (5.6%) 8: Zero (0%) 9: One (5.6%) 10: Zero (0%) 11: Zero (0%) 12: Zero (0%) 13: Zero (0%) 14: Zero (0%) The Hornets currently are the third-worst team in the league. History shows that the third-worst, second-worst, and fifth-worst teams in the league most often get the number one pick in the draft. Most likely, the Bobcats will remain the worst team in the NBA, and the Hornets will end up second-third worst. That's the best place to be, with the second-third worst teams winning the lottery 8 out of 18 times, 44.4% of the time. I really don't see the Hornets improving to above third-worst, as the Raptors, the fourth-worst team, are 5 games ahead of us, with only 13 games remaining. Lets hope that history repeats itself and brings that sexy beast Anthony Davis to the Hornets!!

Jason Calmes
Jason Calmes

They lottery system has changed over the years.

nikkoewan
nikkoewan

in actuality, this is a bad thing for the Hornets. It's why when I saw the numbers, I didn't want to post it because they were just depressing to look at. If history is any indication, then the worst team should win it at some point. If the draft lottery stays the same for a couple of years more, then the 2nd worst has won as many times as it should (22% right now, 19.9% chance of winning) while the 3rd worst has totally outdone itself (22% right now, 16.8% chance of winning). See? There must be a regression at some point. But I like your thinking. HISTORY MUST repeat itself one more time!!!

nikkoewan
nikkoewan

Independence is a law of mathematics..

Jason Calmes
Jason Calmes

In the last 10 years, the team with the highest chances has won 2 of 10 times. 2 or 3 times in 10 are the most likely since they can't win 2.5 times. It's all in line. Also, the drafts are independent, so forget about any law of large numbers arguments `helping' THIS particular draft with respect to the Hornets.

Tim
Tim

A question and a statement. What is the timeline on knowing if we can get EG or Kaman, or any other free agents to agree contractually? Is it possible it can be done before the draft? And statement: Terrence Jones will be the breakout rookie in this draft. We need him as our second pick regardless of who we take early.

J
J

WE need a PF and PG case close

Mike P
Mike P

Can T. Zeller play PF? Everyone is putting him at C because he's a 7 footer and was the biggest guy on the floor for UNC. But can he play PF? He's a skilled 7 footer with speed and range on his shot. Could he possibly be a less athletic version of Pau Gasol? I'm a little worried about T Robinson. I like to look at a track record more than one performance, but yesterday was troubling. He put up 18 and 17, but he was extremely bothered by Davis/Terrence Jones. I was shocked to see his final stat line (besides the 6-17 FGM-FGA). I don't worry much about small misses on shots, but he was BRICKING a lot of the shots he threw up. He can rebound and is a great athlete. But can he compete with NBA length?

Wtbarger
Wtbarger

I agree with you on Drummond. I think the Hornets should take a shot on him assuming Davis is off the board. He has potential to be a top center in a league short of them. Plus he would benefit from played behind a fellow uconn center in Okafor giving him time to develope and taking some pressure of being a top draft pick off him.

AbsurdJoe
AbsurdJoe

I think Gilchrist would do better with a scoring point guard as he wouldn't have too much pressure to score on the perimeter. Guys like Rivers and Lillard would allow Gilchrist to do what he does best which is a little bit of everything without the pressure of being great at putting points on the board. I think Davis will be great with anyone. I agree with your line of thinking when you say you'd want him with a good PG to maximize his offensive potential in his first couple of years. Robinson is someone who must have length, Size, and Shotblocking to minimize his flaws. I think I'd like Henson next to him as he offers everything outside of size. I think like Noah, he'll bulk up at the next level. Andre Drummond is a tough one. I think if I pick Drummond, I'd go with Zeller or Leonard who not only takes pressure off of him but would allow him to develop slowly and correctly. I hate throwing raw bigs into the fire early in their careers because the expectations and pressure could really screw with these kids mentally. It took Andre Bynum 3 years before he was able to contribute at a high level... I expect the same from Drummond. Either way, this staff will have plenty of options as there are a number of ways they can go. I think this is a good draft to have two picks in the lottery.

Jay Dogon
Jay Dogon

Great point on Drummond. I really want us to get a PF and a C from this draft and the more I think about it the more I like taking Drummond with our pick. This draft is very PF deep but the Centers are mostly iffy. I'd like taking the chance on Drummond and getting Perry Jones III, John Henson, Terrance Jones or Sullinger with the Twolves pick.

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