Looking to the Future: Creating Our Own Luck

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


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