Looking to the Future: Saying Goodbye

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Published: June 1, 2012

Now that our franchise savior has arrived, we can finally say goodbye to the future.

In part, this series was started because I knew that the present would just be too difficult to bear as a Hornets fan. After trading Chris Paul in mid-December, the Hornets had transformed overnight from a relevant franchise to an after thought, and the only way back would be to hit a home run in the 2012 NBA draft. So this series became therapy for me in a lot of ways, and most of you seemed to respond to it as well, as LTTF pieces were our most read pieces week after week.

But now it is time to say good-bye.

After suffering through a painful season, that was mercifully cut short due to the NBA lockout, Hornets fans can now start to focus on the present after winning Wednesday’s draft lottery. The cornerstone of our franchise is now in place, so there is no need to pine for Nelens Noel in a running column next year (though a guy with that name would be a pretty nice fit for the Big Easy, wouldn’t it?). Next year I can actually watch Hornets games with hope for the future, instead of staying up until 2 am watching Washington play Cal and wondering how Terrence Ross would look in a Hornets uniform.

Don’t get me wrong, over the next few weeks I will still give you tons of draft coverage, analysis, and scouting reports, but it will not be in this format. It is time to move on, but it is not without a heavy heart. Looking to the Future was exactly what I needed to get through this year, and I will always recall these pieces with fondness. But now that the man they call Unibrow is coming, I no longer need an escape from my present day reality.

Final Thoughts

– My favorite piece to write was the one on White American-Born centers because I always felt like there was a high bust factor there, but was surprised at just how much the data backed that generalization up. I still don’t know exactly why it is that these guys, who are often dominant in college, have such a hard time transitioning to the pros, but I am open to any and all theories.

– When I think of your comments, the first thing that comes to mind is how starved Hornets fans are for offense, and I understand that. Even when this team was successful with CP3, there weren’t always fun to watch, and they have been in the bottom ten in the NBA in pace for the last ten years. Knowing that, I am going to predict that guys like Damian Lillard and Terrance Ross will start to get a lot of support from Hornets fans as the draft gets closer and closer.

– I always considered myself somewhat of a college basketball expert, but this year (and because of these pieces) I fell back in love with the game. It is a different game than NBA basketball, but the chess match is fun nevertheless. I agree that it would be an even better game if guys were forced to stay two or three years, but I believe that a person’s right to make a living trumps the ability to make a game better- and to make a lot of old, white men (who do little to nothing) richer off their backs. In fact, I would support the right for player’s to come to the NBA out of high school, even though I think it risks making the NBA and NCAA inferior products.

– If you have been reading these pieces, and listening to our podcasts, you probably know that I would target Austin Rivers, Jared Sullinger, or Kendall Marshall with the tenth pick. I also believe in grabbing the guy highest on your board, regardless of position- and to take it a step further, I really don’t believe positions exist anymore. Because of that, I would not be surprised if the Hornets took Jared Sullinger at ten, even though both he and Davis are listed as “power forwards.”

Offensively, could they work together? Of course. Either guy is more than capable on the low block and both can step out and hit a jumper out to 20 feet. Defensively, could they work together? I don’t see a ton of 4/5 combo’s in the league that would absolutely dominate them, save for maybe the Lakers, but Kobe won’t give his bigs the ball anyway. Bottom line, it is not about the positions they play, but how they fit together and those two have games that compliment each other fairly well.

But even with all of that, my gut just says Kendall Marshall. All of these guys will come in and work out, but on the conference call I asked Demps what he wants to see in those workouts and he kept referencing “mental makeup.” According to nearly everyone who covered UNC, Marshall was one of the best leaders that team has had in the last 20 years, and the guy has all the intangibles to go with a very good skill set. Guys will come in and jump higher, run faster, shoot better, etc. – but at the end of the day I think the Hornets take Marshall to run this team for the next 10+ years.

– Lastly, thank you all for supporting these pieces and for commenting. Your comments often helped me write the following weeks column, or gave me something new to watch for when evaluating these college players. You all were my muse. I hope I did a good job coming at this from different angles, and I hope I educated, frustrated, and entertained you with my analysis and insight. And lastly, thank you Anthony Davis for giving me the gift of the present.

To read all of the Looking to the Future pieces, click here.

18 comments
kzoz21
kzoz21

I could not disagree more with the assertion that players should be able to play in the league right out of high school. The NBA is a business and has every right to deny access to players that they feel are not adequately ready. Goldman Sachs does not hire high school kids even if they are incredibly smart. They don't say hey let's lose money to develop this kid when we have a free system doing it for us (Also colleges). It is not the NBA's duty to give what essentially amount to children millions of dollars because these players feel it is their right. They have a business to run and keeping the age limit improves the product and can increase profits/revenue.

David
David

@ 10, I say we do everything we can to trade UP and get MKG, Barnes, or Beal. What would it take? If you could pair Gordon-Davis-MKG together: That's solid brotha

Ian H
Ian H

I would like Damien Lillard to give the hornets that explosive athlete at the PG position it has lacked since Baron Davis in his prime but if he isn't available at #10 I wouldn't mind packaging #10 and Ariza for a quasi All Star like a Danny Granger or even a developing Nicolaus Batum kind of player. I can handle Batum and Aminu at the 3 with Aminu playing stretch 4 with AD at the 5 when Hornets go small. I may be reaching there but I think there will be several good players at 10 I just dont think Monty can develop six 22yrs and under players at the same time. If he is teaching he isn't coaching. You have to turn some of the talent and youth into a contributing veteran who can speed up the transition back into winning again. Just my opinion though.

Ron
Ron

In regards to people earning a living, ISTM that the D-League could fit that criteria for guys coming out of HS and need to make a living. Imagine AD bulking up and getting 4 years paid experience before getting drafted by the Hornets.

504ever
504ever

Like what you wrote about our #10 pick, Marshall or possibly Sullinger (both of whom could be long term starters for the Hornets). And the more Rondo plays well in the playoffs, the less likely Boston is to trade him. So what PG would we trade the #10 pick for? (Lowry? I am not so sure Lowry is worth a #10 pick.) We may end up having to using the pick, which isn't a bad thing (even if we end up with a perenial quality 2nd team C like Zeller. A long term piece is a long term piece, and you need quality starters and 2nd teamers to have a deep playoff run.) But I see a PG in our future, and the #10 pick is they way to get a PG.

BRballboy
BRballboy

Appreciate your work & insights. Not always in agreement, but AD cures that & I do agree with your thoughts on 10. Plus, Dell might have a deal in the works to bring in another star ( #10 + Oak or JJ or Ariza ). AD & EG + add'l stud would match up with anybody's big 3. Its gonna be fun!

VeezyV
VeezyV

A couple of mocks have drummond dropping to 19. If he falls, do we get him at 10 to pair with Davis

StefanC
StefanC

Great job with LTTF, Mike! I loved the column this past year.

nikkoewan
nikkoewan

So is this column going to become - looking into the past? LOL

Dee
Dee

We won the lotteryyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!!!!!!!!!!!!! Woohooooo Good post

Michael McNamara
Michael McNamara

Actually, I disagree. If a high school prodigy was better than 80% of Goldman Sachs current employees applied for a job- do you think they would deny him/her? No chance. They might not currently hire high school kids because they are not good enough, but there is nothing saying that, under NO circumstance, will they hire them. Lebron was one of the best players in the world when he was 18, but under these rules, he wold not have been able to earn a living with his talents- and if Cuban or other owners had their way, he would have to wait THREE years. If you are the best at what you do, you should have the right to be paid for your talents if you so choose- not earn money for someone else who is less deserving

kzoz21
kzoz21

I realize that this wasn't the point of an otherwise great article but it just kind of stuck in my craw.

MaskedTalent
MaskedTalent

Rondo for Okafor or Kaman does not sound bad at alllllllllll. Especially if we draft Andre Drummond. I would loveeeeeeeeeeeeeee our chances in the west. I hate hypothetic line ups but Rondo/Jack Gordon/Vasquez Ariza/Aminu Anthony Brow Davis(1st)/Landry Andre Drummond(10th)/Kaman To meeee that looks....legit...at least in two years we'd be in the Conference finals with the Mighty Mind Monty leading the squad.

Chuck
Chuck

At this point I'd be stunned if he falls past 2. Jordan and another uninterested but freakishly athletic center? It's a match made in...well not heaven. He and Davis together though...it's intriguing. Could become a Curry/Chandler situation though, not exactly what we'd want (read the Grantland piece a few weeks ago if you don't know what I'm talking about)

George
George

If Drummond drops to 19 i will eat my shoe

504ever
504ever

The problem with the G-S analogy is that applying to G-S doesn't make you ineligible for college if you don't get picked up. The real problem with the early eligibility is, no matter what eligibility level you set below completing college, there will be a lot of players coming out early who shouldn't. Why? Because the current unresticted system of players deciding to make themselves eligible encourages it. So what is the real solution? Have the current NBA advisory committee system that advises college undergraduates where they will be chosen in the draft (within a range) have to "bless" the decision of any player who wants to come out early and set a limit: no early bird players who aren't considered 1st round choices. That way if the Committee is off, the player still gets drafted in the 2nd round and, if the Committee is accurate, the player gets the guaranteed money only 1st rounders get. Then LeBron etc. get the green light (after completing high school) to come out early.

mazonmafia
mazonmafia

Neither Kaman or Landry are on the hornets anymore