Looking to the Future: Creating Our Own Luck

By:
Published: May 4, 2012

In 1985, the Knicks won the first ever draft lottery (and the right to take Patrick Ewing). Some say that David Stern rigged the lotto, but the truth is always more interesting than fiction. What really happened that day is more magical. A lucky horseshoe, taken from a pacing Triple Crown winning horse named On The Road Again was borrowed from Yonkers Raceway and given to Dave DeBusschere for the night of the lottery. DeBusschere gave the horseshoe “a good rub” before the balls were drawn, and history was made, as the Knicks won the lottery that night.

Since then, representatives have been bringing any item believed to have luck in hopes of landing a coveted #1 pick. 76ers owner Pat Croche brought a miniature crystal basketball and landed Mr. Practice himself- Allen Iverson. The Bucks used a lucky fishing lure from a 16 year-old high school students to reel in “The Big Dog” Glenn Robinson. Last year, Dan Gilbert brought his son, a lucky charm so powerful that David Kahn gave up hope of getting the top pick the minute he saw him.

Point is that it is a time honored tradition and one that we have to get out in front of now, with the draft less than four weeks away. After nearly two years of being the national media’s punching bag and the departure of our superstar just five months ago (doesn’t it feel MUCH longer?), it is time for the city of New Orleans to have it’s revenge. A city that is known for it’s voodoo, must cast magic of another kind on itself. It’s time to get lucky. No, not that kind of lucky. Lottery lucky.

So, I want you to post your luckiest item on the comments section below. We will get the eyeballs of Hugh Webber and Hornets brass on this page, with the hopes that they select a lucky item that will bring us the man they call Unibrow. My good luck charm is a Georgetown #33 jersey that I have had since 1994. I will be wearing that (and perhaps only that) on that franchise changing night. How about you? Give us the item and a brief story, and perhaps we can combine these items like Planeteers all calling out to summon Captain Davis at our Hornets Draft Party on May 30th.

Players as Transformers

Little pet peeve of mine: Don’t give guys you like the excuse that “They are still young, could develop X, Y, and Z” but then turn around and point out all the inadequecies of the guy you don’t like, with regard to their skills, as if they can’t be improved upon. It is either one or the other- be consistent. Personally, I think skills (shooting, ball handling, low post moves) can be developed, but work ethic, toughness, motor, and basketball intelligence is either a thing you have at this point or a thing you will never have. Does anybody really think Demarcus Cousins is ever going to be an energy guy or a team first guy? Never gonna happen. But can Michael Kidd-Gilchrist develop an outside game? Of course. And his current one is better than LeBron’s at the same age. Just sayin’.

The question is: Why do some guys completely transform and/or improve their game, while others retain their weaknesses? Is it purely a work ethic thing? Are the guys who don’t grow victims of bad coaching and poor advice? Some people say it is immaturity and/or ego, but how many “mature” 19 year olds have you met? Every single one of them suffered from lapses of immaturity- remember when Joakim Noah danced like a goofball after the championship game? How is one immature action distinguished from another, and how do you know what is going to carry over to the court and what isn’t?

I have not hidden my philosophy on this at all, and I will say it here again, the improvement (or lack thereof) of a player’s game has more to do with the organization than anything else. And notice that I didn’t say the coaches, I said the organization. The entire organization must have a plan for the player and must commit to that player, even when the player’s immaturity keeps them from committing to themselves. Instead, what happens far too often is grown men who are two or three times the age of the player, expect them to act and play like veterans. When they don’t, they are all too quick to move on or throw these guys under the bus in order to protect themselves. It is no coincidence that organizations that have a plan, stick with it, and give their employees job security, tend to develop prospects while the organizations that are a mess off the court stay a mess on the court. Which leads me to….

Top Offseason Priority

I bring this up because Monty and Dell are on the last year of their deals, and if they (along with guys like Hugh Weber and others) knew that they were going to be here for the long haul to build this thing the right way, it would be easy to draft a couple of 19 year-olds and bring them along slowly. But they don’t have enough security to know that they can suffer through another season or two like this past one, even if it is best for the franchise long term. Look no further than Monty’s comments last week when he all but guaranteed a playoff birth. In a scenario in which the Hornets have Andre Drummond and Damian Lillard at the top of their boards when it is time to make their respective picks, would Dell pull the trigger, effictively giving Monty two guys who will contribute little to nothing next year?

At the end of the day, I believe enough in these two men to think that they would do what is best for the franchise, even though it might cost them their jobs in the long run- but why put them in that position? I know that there are some critics of Dell and Monty, but Phil Jackson and Jerry West are not walking through that door. It is easy to just say, “I hated how they treated Thornton, get rid of them!” but then the follow up question is; Who do you replace them with? Not only have they both exceeded expectations, but they are by far the most qualified relative to anybody who would actually take either job. We can pine for this prospect or that prospect all we want, but locking those two up should be the first item crossed off on the Hornets offseason tasks list.

Editor’s note: Saw this article just minutes after I finished this final draft. MUST READ. Carry on.

No Gordon Trade

Please, please, please spread the word to your fellow Hornets fans that Eric Gordon can not be traded during or before the draft. Not for Portland’s two picks, not for the Wizards pick, not for anything out there. He can not sign his qualifying offer or an extension until July and that means that the Hornets do not have his rights to trade. And no, a team is not going to draft a player for the Hornets with the hopes that the Hornets can do a sign and trade with them a few weeks later. So, again, please spread the word because somehow I have not been successful in my attempts to educate some people on this issue.

Key Dates

May 30th- Draft Lottery

June 6-10- Pre-draft Combine

June 28- NBA draft

July 1st- Can start talking to free agents

July 11th- Free agents can sign

July 13-22- Vegas Summer League

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

48 comments
aless
aless

Uni Lotto is best lottery global

lsutigers33
lsutigers33

Guys, Aminu isn't ready to start. Ariza is our best defender, you just didn't see it last year. Some of the comments on bigs were accurate. We would be crazy to pick Drummond. If he was 7ft 2, maybe, but 6ft 9 and 6ft 11 isn't that different when you have a player like T rob who plays extremely hard and can score. we blew our chance to get Davis by beating GSW. So I look at T rob, MKG, Beal with the first pick. Beal would be a nice compliment in rotation with his range. MKG is a great player at his age and just needs to develop his shot. Everything else is there that you can't coach. zeller is a center, better than expected sz. 7ft 250lbs and does have more O skills than any other center in the draft. He would be a backup center. Kaman will not get 14m from any team. So if we offered 9-10, he would take it. I like zeller or PG with second pick, or trade back, pickup a 2nd and get a solid rotation player who can score

Tyler
Tyler

Obviously they wanted to trade him at the deadline to the Wizards. Al did well towards the end of the season to cement my position.

Josh
Josh

We really shouldn't trade him. He plays well and is a leader. Besides, is Aminu really ready?

Tyler
Tyler

Scenario: 2012 NBA Draft: 1a.) Thomas Robinson PF Kansas 1b.) Terrence Jones SF Kentucky *Draft Night Trade: Trevor Ariza

Trey
Trey

"Does anybody really think Demarcus Cousins is ever going to be an energy guy or a team first guy?" That's a lazy shot at Cousins. Any reason he is not an "energy guy?" He is top 5 in every single rebounding statistic the NBA has. While playing 400 less minutes than a year ago, Cousins also posted career highs in points , rebounds, blocks, steals, FG%, FT%, and cut down on his turnovers. That requires some energy. Any reason he is not a "team first guy?" I assume you are hinting at the Westphal mess. Two things stand out- Westphal, who deserves as much blame as anyone for the way things turned out, is not an NBA coach at this point in his career and the NBA is littered with players who were involved in ousting coaches. I don't see a quip questioning the character of Deron Williams for ending the career of Hall of Famer Jerry Sloan. Closing the book on a second year, 21 year old player who has shown great improvement in his short time in the league is an odd way to talk about giving young players time to grow.

LaNative
LaNative

I don't have any lucky items but I'm definitely praying and hoping for a stellar draft and hopefully, we can make some trades and/or acquisitions that will make the 2012-2013 season a dream come true for Hornets fans. With the Mavericks making their exit in the first round from their championship run proves that a lot can happen in one season. And with Monty and Dell (who I think should be retained and given more opportunity), I think we have the makings of a great organization. So, I'm linking my faith and positive energy so that we have favor with the ping pongs.

clef504
clef504

This off the subject but I've gotten over cp3. It took a whole and it hurt but I'm over him. The thing that's killing me is David West. Every time I look at home making shots, playing d, doing the small things. It kills me. Whatever happened to loyalty. With the way the players are coming up, we might not get a player of cp3's caliber but he can be replaced. David West but a big hole in our team. Just think if he was here. Ayon could learn from him. J Smitty could've played more at the 5 and we could've traded okafor or kaman without hesitating. Aaaaaahhhhh

BRballboy
BRballboy

Trading for vs. drafting bigs. The main reason to not bring back Kaman/Okafor is they make 26 million of an approx. 60 million salary cap (43%?) just for the 2 of them. Other established bigs we could trade for would be likewise expensive. Drafted 1st rd. bigs get rookie contracts for the 1st few years at a fraction (1 to 5 mil) the cost of vets. Very helpful salary-cap wise, esp. since Gordon is coming off his rookie contract and is expected to make more than Okafor or Kaman.

Jason Calmes
Jason Calmes

"Chance favors only the prepared mind." -- Louis Pasteur

Josh
Josh

Hornets' offseason plan: Re-sign: Gordon, Belinelli, Landry Extend Williams and Demps. Draft the best players available. Trade into the second round so that we can develop a European player (maybe Evan Fournier). Make a big push for Roy Hibbert (not likely for him to sign NOLA) Make Vasquez the starter because he fits better with Gordon and Jack off the bench to provide a spark. Move Henry to SF because he is better suited for it. PG: Greivis Vasquez, Jarrett Jack, Jerome Dyson SG: Eric Gordon, Marco Belinelli SF: Trevor Ariza, Al-Farouq Aminu, Xavier Henry PF: Landry, Ayon, Thomas C: Okafor, Smith * Not including draft picks

NoJoke
NoJoke

I see the Hornets (or whatever the team becomes) getting very lucky on draft night...............

Eli
Eli

If the Minny pick goes top 3, I might soil myself in excitement.. Just saying. And when I'm at the draft on June 29th and our guys get selected, I will cheer like a madman and put one finger on each hand up at the Knicks fans sitting around me!

da ThRONe
da ThRONe

As far as players completely transformering their games I disagree. I've seen players refine what was raw talent, however I've never seen a guy like Tyson Chandler turn into Al Jefferson offensively in the post. Or I've never seen a guy like Trevor Ariza attack the basket like Dwayne Wade. The skill much like the motor or IQ is either there or it isn't.

Tim
Tim

I'm with you on Gordon, and was starting to believe his heart was in this. Then the other day, he tweets..."I gotta find me a personal chef here in Indiana!" Or something like that. Obviously everyone automatically assumed it's because he has every intention of going back home for good. I don't know what's going on behind the scenes, but any insight is appreciated. Is he there just for the off-season? Have we secretly promised to let him go? What's going on here?

Jo D
Jo D

First of all... While I was a MT5 fan(I hated seeing him traded), Dell and Monty have done an exceptional job since being hired. We need to extend both contracts. Secondly, we can't trade Gordon. We traded Olympic starter CP3 for Olympic candidate Gordon. A downgrade. But not bad. If we trade Gordon, it would be for an older guy about to leave his prime or a young guy with "potential"... We can't keep taking steps back... The CP3 thing had to happen. But Gordon hasn't stated he wants out and we have the leverage as he is Restricted. Thirdly, I want T-Rob... But I believe we would be better off with MKG... As we already have the capable Smitty and El Titan who still have some potential to grow.. Drummond scares me. I only draft him if he falls to 10... Assuming we can't get Uni-Brow, I'd be delighted with a MKG/Zeller draft Keep Monty and Dell Resign Sir Eric (if we become the knights) Draft two capable defenders with offensive potential.

Carpo
Carpo

Can we convince Dell to throw an octopus on the Studio floor if we win

BRballboy
BRballboy

We will lose one or both of Kaman/Okafor. We have depth at the other 4 positions. If we don't get Davis, we have to go big. I know that scares MM and others, but if Drummond is there and Davis is gone, what choice do you have? I believe Drummond is a rotation player who can defend and rebound now and I would be tickled to have him absent the Unibrow.

Josh
Josh

Why does everyone want to trade Ariza; and if we do, what are we expected to get out of him?

da ThRONe
da ThRONe

I agree Cousins take a lot of unfair criticism. I would take him over every single player on this team.

504ever
504ever

BRballboy, Why do you assume Kaman will be back? Back at his outrageous current salary? I don't see him as an NBA starter; I don't see him getting starter's money. I don't see him with the Hornets if they trade for or sign a cheaper, up and coming, back-up Center. (Maybe the Hornets sign Kaman to a two year contract at $5-6M/year if they don't find a better option.) Why include Kaman's bloated 2011-12 salary in the Hornets 2012-13 cap space? Without it your argument against a trade looks much weaker. Why assume the Hornets would trade for a Center with a large salary? There are a number of cheaper, up and coming, back-up Centers like McGee. (10th Pick for McGee? Denver trades one of four Centers for a pick they can use on another position like PG. Hornets get an athletic Center with a 19 PER already, who they can coach up even more.) The Hornets need a productive Center now. What draft pick gets them there? Drummond with his unpolished offensive skills, and low rebounding rate in college (averaged 7.7 rebounds in 28.4 minutes, 5.4 rebounds in his last 5 games) where he enjoyed a physical advantage he won't have in the NBA? Drummond who shot .295 from the free throw line, .180 over his last 10 games? I don't see it. Zeller, with limited athleticism and heft? I see him as a Jason Smith type big man, i.e. not a true Center and not a guy you can pair with Smith or Ayon. Zeller is Smith and Ayon, rather than a compliment to either of them. So Zeller doesn't add anything the Hornets don't have already. So you are left with Henson, if he is available, a trade or a free agent. Of those options, the trade or free agent is much more of a known commodity, and Dell likes the certainty of a player already in the league versus the risk of a draft pick. Think our 2013 2nd rounder for former lottery pick Henry. We got Henry two years earlier than the draft pick and already exercised his option for next year. Think our 2011 1st rounder for Jerryd Bayless, who was later traded for Jarret Jack and expiring contracts. The Hornets 2011 1st round pick was used on Tobias Harris (who?!), averaging 11 minutes/game for the Bucks (2/3rds of Henry's minutes)! That's how the Hornets end up trading for a big man, a more likely than not event.

Jo D
Jo D

Yup! My previous statement agrees

da ThRONe
da ThRONe

Obviously it may change due to our draft picks, but while I think this is very realistic I feel that roster leaves us severly lacking in scoring. I've said this before my greatest fear is that we push to make the playoffs next year with a fringe playoff team. I don't want to be where the Sixers are currently at with their roster. A handful of young promising guys and a handful of vets. Good enough for only the 7th or 8th seed and a first round exit. Missing a chance for a top 5 pick every year, yet never really having any post season success beyond just making it(which in basketball making a 7th or 8th seed really is no accomplishment at all).

Jo D
Jo D

I think Landry is done in NOLA... Smith and Ayon.provide a solid 4 combo... Not to mention a possible draft pick there... I would be ecstatic to get evan in the second round!!! But he will likely go mid first round. Would love to see GV start next year. If he gets 32-35 mpg, you are looking at the most improved player of 2013...or atleast a contender for it... There is also the possibility that Mek gets the big A word.. Amnesty provision.. X4... I'm predicting big time improvement from him next season... If we do get a second round pick as you wish, the name I'd look for is Machado.

Josh
Josh

It's on the 28th.

Eli
Eli

June 28th my bad

Justin
Justin

I think I could make the argument the David West improved greatly on the offensive end of the court from when he came into the league.

Jo D
Jo D

I wouldn't read much into it... Indiana is his hometown... It makes sense he would have an off season home there around his fam... Just like Brees has a San Diego home. Sean Payton has a dallas home... It's like that with many millionaire athletes..

Josh
Josh

Where would we have room for MKG to develop? We already have Al-Farouq Aminu.

504ever
504ever

Agree, except would much rather MKG/Henson than MKG/Zeller. We need a competent defensive center with Smith and Ayon at PF.

504ever
504ever

We don't have to pick a big if we don't get Davis. We could, and probably have to, trade for a big. Drummond will take too long to develop, if he develops at all. (There are a lot of early pick big man busts.) Zeller just has too little upside. I see him peaking as an average 2nd team player at best in the NBA.

Jo D
Jo D

I'd Prefer zeller. He is more proven. Taller frame. Drummond has been compared to Andrew Bynum, Dwight Howard, Kwame Brown, and Adonal Foyle... That spectrum is far to vast for my liking... Throw in he only averaged 7 boards a game last year and shot in the 20% range on free throws... Epic sad face

Jo D
Jo D

Zeller not a true center? 7 foot... 250Lbs... With an array of low post back to the basket moves... not athletic? He is touted with great athleticism for the 5 and runs the floor better than any center in the draft... Henson 6 10 220lbs... Extremely limited offensive game.. But what little game he has is finesse (i.e. Smith or Ayon) decent defender... However I agree with I drummond... I see that as a mistake for any franchise in the top 6... McGee would be a spectacular addition. also keep in mind, we got henry on the cheap because and only because they needed a roster spot for the philly trade... Teams aren't looking to unload young guys with potential on the regular for second rounders..

Josh
Josh

I've seen quite a few mocks with Fournier in round 2.

da ThRONe
da ThRONe

I don't think using the amnesty provision will be necessary with Okafor. The center position is still in demand and with only this upcoming season and the following left on his deal some team (I see you Portland) will need a productive big even if that contract exceeds the production. Especially when you consider how grossly over paid that position has become. I don't expect to get much maybe a late 1st or 2nd rounder. However getting him off the books without having to use the amnesty clause would be a win in itself.

Jo D
Jo D

I like landry... But ii think he will cost too much at a position we already have quality pieces at

Josh
Josh

I meant develop and through injury.

Josh
Josh

Yea, Machado's a good player out of Iona, but I would really like to see our potential second rounder to play in Europe and developer there like Kyle Singler and Jon Diebler. Also, the thing I like about Landry is his passion even though Coach didn't like his failure to play throught injury. He brings a lot of energy and is one of my favorite players to watch. could be a 6th man of the year candidate

Josh
Josh

Sorry, I didn't read your other comment.

da ThRONe
da ThRONe

What David did was refine his game in multipule areas offensively, that's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about coming into the league shooting like Rajon Rondo than getting to a Ray Allen level. That kind of improvement skill wise is as rare as guys increasing their motors and/or IQ.

David
David

Aminu is bigger, better rebounder, and a better free throw shooter as well. I like Aminu but you can't give him the starting job at SF based just on his solid finish to the season. Collect as many assets as possible. If MKG is the best asset on the board, get him.

Jo D
Jo D

MKG is already better than Aminu in all phases

Jo D
Jo D

Well time will tell... We just have different views on these players

504ever
504ever

Henson=Armstrong?! The same Hilton Armstrong who couldn't start at UConn for three years and averaged about 11 minutes/game in his 1st three years? Henson started as a Sophomore and Junior, and averaged 15 minutes/game as a Freshman at UNC? Don't see it. Henson is vastly superior to Armstrong.

Jo D
Jo D

Henson has a lil more upside... But he also reminds me of the failure that was Hilton Armstrong... I think Zeller can be a capable starter... I believe we should draft a big and develop him.. Trading for or signing a big is very expensive and often doesn't end up being worth the investment... The only guy I'd want over drafting Davis, Robinson or zeller is Javale McGee...

Josh
Josh

Yea, I meant coaching. We have the veterans who will make sure he has the right attitude as a player.

Jo D
Jo D

You mean the coaching? Yea, Monty.does have a great track record with developing talent... But has he shown the fire and work ethic to benefit from Montys tutelage?

Josh
Josh

We have the front office to develop Drummond.