Tenth Pick Tournament Semi-Finals: Jones III vs. Zeller vs. Trade Up Counterpoints

Published: June 23, 2012

The Closing arguments are made and you get your chance to vote for who moves on to the Finals

If you haven’t read Part One of this piece, you can check it out here.

The Case for Tyler Zeller (Part II)

(by: Mason Ginsberg)

I thought I’d have to fight harder than this! McNamara made my life easy in two ways – first, with those two delusional trade proposals, and second, for calling Perry Jones III out to be exactly what he is – an Al-Farouq Aminu clone. My argument yesterday was dedicated to promoting Tyler Zeller; today, on the other hand, will be aimed at breaking down my two competitors’ feeble arguments.

Mike, I would like to at least commend you on one thing – usually when we see trade ideas on this site, they are proposals that are skewed heavily in the Hornets’ favor and therefore would never be accepted by the other team involved. In this case, however, you appear to sincerely dislike Dell Demps, because you have managed to suggest two trades that would both potentially get him fired. In the first deal that Mike created, he sends Aminu, Ayon, and the 10th pick to Sacramento for Francisco Garcia and the 5th pick. Aminu is only 21, younger than several projected first round picks in this year’s draft, and showed a decent amount of potential at the end of last season. As a starter, he averaged 8 and 7 with nearly two steals a game. At the very least, he can develop into a 6’9″ version of Thabo Sefolosha, which will be essential when the Hornets have to go through Durant and LeBron to get their championships.

Ayon, like Aminu, is locked up cheap for the next two years and had stretches last season where he was the best player on the roster. Quality bigs are hard enough to come by. Quality bigs scheduled to make 3 million dollars over the next two years combined are like Leprechauns- you know they exist, but you rarely see one. When you add the tenth pick, you are talking about two starters and a high end reserve for an above average shooter who can’t put the ball on the floor, create for teammates, or cover Kevin Durant. No thanks.

His second trade is much easier to shoot down. If I am Dell Demps, there is no way on earth that I am dumping next season’s first round pick (unprotected!) just to move up a mere three spots in this season’s draft. None. Despite how thin next year’s class has been rumored to be by some, the top five are all very good players, and I would not want to throw away a chance at one of them in order to pick just three slots higher this season.

Since those two are the best that he could come up with, I think that it’s safe to rule out the “trading up” option. Next, we come to Jake and his case for drafting Perry Jones (and his uninformed attack on Tyler Zeller). First of all, using the Miami Heat to prove that teams don’t need a “true center” is bogus. The Heat’s one listed center only played 3 minutes because his name is Ronny Turiaf, and he is terrible. Last year’s champion, the Dallas Mavericks, had a center named Tyson Chandler who was pretty “non-versatile”, but there is absolutely no way that they would have been anywhere near the NBA finals without him, much less winning it all.. Either way, Tyler Zeller would take offense to those questioning his versatility. The players to whom Jake refers are mostly that way due to a lack of athleticism, cementing them into whatever position their body type dictates. While Zeller is, as Jake noted, a “true center” (which should be viewed as a commodity, by the way), he is one of the fastest big men in the draft class and gets out in transition better than possibly any other big man in the class. Knowing that, you’re still going to tell me that a player with that kind of motor and agility is “non-versatile” and can’t move over and defend the power forward position if necessary? Give me a break.

As for Perry Jones himself – I hope you enjoyed Jake’s bright and sunny depiction of his potential, because he did his best to portray Jones’ ultimate ceiling; however, it’s a ceiling that he has a minimal chance at best of reaching. Draft analysts seem to concur with this belief, as he has been falling on draft boards everywhere you look. Chad Ford had him being drafted 12th right after the lottery, and now has him down to 19th. Draft Express had Jones at 12th right after the lottery as well, but has since bumped him to 15th. Sports Illustrated had him at 10th after the lottery, then bumped him to 14th. Moral of the story – the general consensus of the risk vs. reward of drafting Jones III is tilting towards too much risk for the 10th pick in the draft. If there were any evidence to the contrary, it would be unfair for me not to present it, but I simply have not seen one major draft analysis site project Jones being drafted higher today than they did three weeks ago. I’m on their side – give me a guaranteed difference-maker like Tyler Zeller with the 10th pick, not a gigantic risk like Perry Jones III with, as CBS Sports’ Matt Moore put it, the “bazillions of questions about his work ethic, role, approach, attitude, and style.”


The Case for Trade Up (Part II)

(By: Michael McNamara)

I know that I did a good job on the trades because half the readers commented that the Hornets gave up too much and half of the comments said the other team wouldn’t do the trades I proposed. Always cracks me up how that works. For those who say that they won’t vote for “Trade Up” because it is not a guarantee that this will be a legit option, that same logic should keep you from voting for Damian Lillard because there is a 50/50 shot he won’t be there at ten anyway. Don’t over think it. Assume these options are all in play for the good of this exercise and vote for what you want to see happen.

Now, for those of you (including my opponents) who say that Drummond or Barnes are not significant enough upgrades over Zeller and Jones to give up additional assets for, I respectfully disagree. Drummond has the second highest upside of any prospect in this draft, and if you don’t agree ask yourself; “If every prospect drafted after Davis reached their full potential, who would get the biggest contract?” Drummond of course. Big men with that size, length, and athleticism do not come around often. Could he bust? It’s possible, but that is where you have to have some faith in Monty and his staff.

Combine that with the fact that he won’t have to be the savior, and he can concentrate on just fulfilling a specific role, and the chances he succeeds here are greater than if he went to another team in the lottery. And in my scenario, all you are giving up is next year’s first rounder. Davis, Drummond, Henry, and Aminu will all still be between the ages of 19 and 22 at the time of 2013 June’s draft. Do we really need to add another kid to the mix? Besides that draft is very similar to the 2006 draft– top heavy with five or six good prospects and a significant dropoff. This team won’t be picking that high with Skynet and Eric Gordon on board. If Demps can give up a mid first-rounder for Jerryd Bayless, then he can give it up for a chance to draft a guy who could help give us the most dominant front line in the NBA.

For those saying that the Barnes trade is a 3-for 1 deal, obviously you are correct, but let me remind you that the 1 is by far the most likely of the four men involved to be an All-Star. Gustavo Ayon is nice, but Dell Demps can get guys like him in his sleep. He essentially turned the 26th pick (Craig Brackens) into Jason Smith and the 45th pick (sold to NY) into Gustavo Ayon. I have no doubt he has twenty guys on his radar that he can pluck out of a foreign league or off another team’s roster to replace guys like Aminu and Ayon. What he doesn’t have is multiple opportunites to get a piece with the potential of Harrison Barnes. Enjoy the high lottery now Hornets fans, because we aren’t coming back here again anytime soon. You gotta strike when you have the chance, and just like we saw in the CP3 era, once you have a transcendent player, gone are the days of picking in the part of the draft where ‘A’ and ‘B’ players are more likely than ‘C’, ‘D’, or ‘F’ players. 

As for Mason’s argument for Tyler Zeller, this notion that we need a center more today than we did before the Okafor trade is absurd. Did anybody really think Emeka was in the long term plans? We always knew that the contending version of this team would need a different center, but the last thing we need to do is settle for a lesser player just so we can have someone to plug in today. Who cares if we have to start Jason Smith for a year or bring a stop gap in for 2012-13? It’s not about next year, it’s about collecting the best pieces long term and nobody can honestly say that Zeller is one of the top 10 players in this draft.

The problem with drafting Perry Jones at ten is that we already have a guy like him on this team named Al-Farouq Aminu. Jake even admits that Jones is a jack-of-all-trades, but a master of none and we have seen how that played out in the past with another Big XII prospect who had a low motor. No thanks.

Really, it comes down to whether you are willing to give up some marginal assets to give yourself the best chance at netting a future star. If you say no now, be warned that it is extremely unlikely that the Hornets will ever have the opportunity to draft this high again. We just watched two teams with six stars battle it out in the Finals. There are a lot of differences between those six guys, but there is one similarity- each and every one of them was a top five pick. Be bold, Trade Up with me! Let’s go get Harrison Barnes!

The Case for Perry Jones III (Part II)

(By: Jake Madison)

Let me clarify that I wasn’t comparing Zeller to Kendrick Perkins in the previous post. I was using the example of Perkins to show why it’s absurd to say that the reason the Hornets should take Zeller at 10 is because we “need” a center. That way of thinking is why Sam Bowie was taken over Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley and John Stockton.

The Perkins example is also to point out that positions are changing in the NBA. Is there really a need for a center on the roster? Or is having multiple skilled big men more important, even if they aren’t classified as a center? If the latter is what you think, and your two options are Perry Jones III and Zeller, then I want to take the guy who isn’t fairly one dimensional and very similar to a player already on the Hornets.

In the first round of the tournament, Mason points out that Zeller is very similar to Jason Smith. Zeller could be a rich man’s Jason Smith. That would sound great if Smith wasn’t already on the team. Smith still has a little room to grow and I think most people are happy with what he brings to the team. There is no need to use a pick on a player who is so similar to what we already have.

Mason says that Jones III would be the Hornets 4th power forward, but that’s not really the case since Jones III projects as more of a swingman who can also play in the front court. If anything, Zeller would be the 4th power forward. Coming in as a rookie, I don’t see him getting minutes over Davis, Smith or even Ayon. I’m worried that could hurt his development.

On the other hand Jones III should get decent minutes behind Aminu. You can say Jones III is a clone of Aminu except for that fact that he’s taller, jumps higher and shoots better. The main knock on Jones III has been his motor but Mike points out that practicing against Davis and Smith, and Monty’s coaching, should help that.

The reason why I don’t really like trading up is also one of the reasons why I think the Hornets should take Jones III: depth. Trading up (either with current players or future picks) hurts the Hornets’ depth. Having a deep bench is huge throughout an 82 game season (plus hopefully multiple playoff series!). Players will inevitably get hurt. Having a player like Jones II,I who can step in and play multiple roles, is huge to have. That’s why I see Jones III as a Lamar Odom-type player. He has the potential to start a multiple positions, or come in off the bench and lead the second unit. That sounds ideal to me.



  1. OnPointLikeCP3

    June 23, 2012 at 8:17 am

    It’s gotta be PJIII. I was slightly torn between Trading Up and PJIII, but Jake’s “depth” argument sealed it for me. PERRRRRRRRRYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!

  2. Andres

    June 23, 2012 at 9:00 am

    Trade up!! This years draft has much more depth then next year and it is extremely unlikely we get a top 5 pick when we have Skynet. I am fine with taking a chance with Drummond and giving up assets for Barnes. As long as we have enough cap room for next summer. Vote Trade Up!!

    • 504ever

      June 23, 2012 at 9:28 am

      You understand Skynet is 19 years old, played one year in college, and weighed 222 lbs at Chicago this year? (Most Power Forwards in the NBA weigh 240-250 lbs.) That means he won’t start, except possibly due to injury, his entire first year at a minimum. That they will bring him along slowly and carefully, and not put too much pressure on him.

      • J-Bo

        June 23, 2012 at 8:24 pm

        You dont draft the #1 player in the draft and not start him he will start at PF day 1.

      • NOH Domination

        June 24, 2012 at 10:16 am

        I agree that AD won’t be carrying us the way Andres is thinking, but c’mon, he’s going to start.

      • Andres

        June 24, 2012 at 1:33 pm

        I did not say I thought Skynet was going to carry or start all of next year. That won’t happen for another 2 or 3 years, I just do not believe that next years team will be a bottom 5 team, does anyone think that? Therefore I believe in this match-up the best option is to try get another quality future starter and trade up, since next year we will most likely not have that option.

  3. 504ever

    June 23, 2012 at 9:01 am


    The “mid-1st rounder” we gave up for Bayless, in the quote from you below, was the 2011 21st pick (and Dell turned it (Bayless) into Jack)! I don’t think our 2013 1st Round pick will be anywhere near that late in the draft.

    “If Demps can give up a mid first-rounder for Jerryd Bayless, then he can give it up for a chance to draft a guy who could help give us the most dominant front line in the NBA.”

    Also, Ryan’s excellent draft analysis shows very little statistical difference in picks 6-10. So moving up in that range doesn’t pay off in the long run. Ryan’s analysis also shows that picks 10 and below, where we can reasonably expect to pick next year, have the best chance of NBA success. So why give up our unprotected 2013 1st Rounder, with his (likely high) additional chances of success, to move up and retain the same chances of NBA success in this draft?

    [I am chosing to ignore your “most dominant front line in the NBA” statement about Drummond. I find it too far fetched to know where to begin with it.]

    • Chad R

      June 23, 2012 at 9:14 am

      And how about the significant increase in value in picks 1-5. Remember, Michael seems to favor the first proposal- trading to the top 5 to get Barnes. That same analysis shows moving from 10 to 5 is a move that is worth far more than an Aminu or an Ayon.

      I agree that trading up for Drummond is risky, but I love the idea of moving up for Barnes. And, on a side note, this idea that it is 3-for-1 is just not true. The Hornets will fill in the roster spots left behind in the trade with actual players.

      Yes, CP3 for Kaman, Aminu, and Gordon was three for 1, but the Clippers gave Aminu’s minutes to Caron Butler and Kaman’s minutes to Reggie Evans. Similarly, the Hornets will find another small forward- or give some minutes to Henry there, and another backup big- or they will bring Landy back.

      So, in my mind that trade is:

      Barnes, Landry, and Henry


      Jones III, Ayon, and Aminu

      No brainer for me

      • 504ever

        June 23, 2012 at 10:12 am

        Michael said trade up to 5, or up 7 and take who ever is left at 7. I was talking about trade he proposed for 7.

        The 3 for 1 trade to get to 5 seemed even more preposterous to me. The two guys we trade all played significant minutes on the Hornets’ second team, and at least Aminu may start in 2012-13. (The 10th pick will be at least at that level.) We don’t have anyone on the roster to replace those two at their low salaries, and we won’t find replacements in free agency at these salaries either.

        Statistically, by giving up three useful NBA players we get slightly higher odds of a useful NBA player and a 17 percentage points higher chance of getting a quality starter. To me that’s risk for a team one quality starter away, not a team with only one or two quality starters on the roster. The only quality starters we have are injury prone Gordon and eventual starter Skynet.

        At this stage of the team’s development, I believe we need multiple good, young, inexpensive pieces our quality coaching staff can develop. I want more, not less, of them to develop with Skynet.

  4. da ThRONe

    June 23, 2012 at 9:13 am

    I would choose trade up. Some know I love Drummond as a prospect. His combo of strength and lateral quickness is very Howard like. My range for him is between D.Howard and D.Jordan. I’m thrilled with that especially at 6 or below.

    Missed up on the poll I choose Perry Jones. Which would be my second choice.

    • OnPointLikeCP3

      June 23, 2012 at 9:39 am

      Only way I trade up for Drummond is is he falls to 7. I’m not too worried about Toronto taking him, but I could see DET picking him if he falls to 9. Golden St. seems to want to move their pick, so they’d be a good trade partner.

  5. NOLA_Fredo

    June 23, 2012 at 10:35 am

    Zeller is Jason Smith++, but as was stated above, we have Jason Smith. So he’s not it.

    If the choice was PJIII or Drummond, I’d have to go with Drummond. I don’t trust PJIII to put it all together. He screams “the next Michael Beasley” for me and, even though the original Beasley looks to have finally turned the corner, it took various teams and coaches to do it. So no thanks.

    So then it’s trade up. Only caveat is, it’d have to be for Barnes. I am coming around to thinking Drummond might slip to us at #10 whereas I can see Barnes going anywhere from #2-#5. If we can land him, fine. If he’s gone, stay at #10 and see how it plays out.

    • Zombian

      June 23, 2012 at 9:54 pm

      Redundancy isn’t always bad. If we get Zeller then we’ll see lots of Zeller/Smith together and I think they can work well together.

  6. Jordan J.

    June 23, 2012 at 11:06 am

    I want Drummond!

  7. NOLA Hustle

    June 23, 2012 at 12:44 pm

    i wish gustavo ayons did grow on trees. if you could surround your stars with skilled guys that work that hard especially at 6’10” and up, itd be pretty easy to build a winning team.

    as far as barnes potential, he’s on our team (at least until next week)

  8. NOLA Hustle

    June 23, 2012 at 12:50 pm

    i thnk the best argument ive heard was a pragmatic one regarding the exorbitant cost for the limited skills of the few legit bigs out there

    we know dell, per san antone model, and our current team likes his bigs cheapand does not want to overpay for role players. i also bet dell was impressed by the intelligence quickness and skill of zeller, a guy who can b a legit starting 5 at a rookie scale. think thats hard to pass up

    agree with jake about not passing on a guy you really like for need, but does that guy exist at 10 in this draft? (yes in my mind kendall marshall or lillard if he magically drops) to dell i think no, hes a pragmatist and goes with the solid 5 at a bargain, or else trades down

  9. Ben

    June 23, 2012 at 2:32 pm

    I gotta go with trade up on this one. Drummond would be a perfect fit with Monty. He could specialize the first couple years as a defensive presence while he develops his offensive game. Also we all know how much Monty loves big men after the lakers series where Bynum and gasol man-handled our bigs. Also Monty is the kInd of defense first guy who lets the offense run itself. Barnes can be a huge help to the offense. With him Gordon and Davis its pick your poison on offense. Zeller seems like an 8-9 guy on our roster so no to him. Pj3 is great but Barnes is much safer with just as high of an upside. Next year we won’t be high in the lottery so muhammad and Noel are out. Let’s give up next years pick and start contending

    • Josh

      June 23, 2012 at 3:16 pm

      Completely agree.

  10. tzander01

    June 23, 2012 at 3:04 pm

    The idea of Drummond next to Davis for the forseeable future is salivating. But would we have to give up that much if he falls to 7? Golden state has made it known that they could get the guys their targeting much lower. Could we propose our 10th and two future 2nd round picks? Or take back a contract? It’s only 3 spots…

    Tyler Zeller is just another Jason Smith to me, a definite reach at the 10th spot. I wouldn’t be excited AT ALL to come away with Zeller at 10, in what will be (like Michael said) one of our rare opportunities to draft in the lottery for a while. I agree that the days of true positions in the NBA are gone. So people need to stop getting paranoid about this NEED to address the Center position with the 10th pick, especially if he won’t be the BPA at that slot.

    The most plausible scenarios to me: 1)either take Rivers at 10 and go grab Javale McGee this year. He and AD would be swatting shots all day long–everyone needs to get over the Not Top 10 knock on this dude, kid is athletic as hell and still young; OR 2)trade up for either Drummond or Barnes (in which case you still address the Center position through Free Agency) without hindering our ability to be players in next year’s free agency class.

    Year 2: IN EITHER CASE, bring CP3 back, address the other hole (i.e. small forward) with the the extra cap, and vwala…we’re essentially back in biz within 2 years.

    Your call Demps. Let’s stop kidding ourselves, get value for the pick! Zeller and PJIII are out of the question, unless we’re picking 13-18. “Trade up” smashes the alternatives and wins this round by sheer common sense….

    • Zombian

      June 23, 2012 at 9:57 pm

      It’s amazing what one playoff series can do for a player. We’re talking about the same Javalle who goal tends at a much higher rate than any other player in hte NBA, a player who shot every time he got the ball so he could complete a triple double, a player who ran back to defense when his team had the ball. Suddenly he shows up in a quarter of the free agent acquisitions I read. Some team will overpay him, I hope its not us.

      • tzander01

        June 23, 2012 at 11:00 pm

        Goal tending isn’t necessarily something I’d evaluate a player on. At least it reflects that he’s aggressive at shot blocking. And I think saying he shot the ball every time just to rack up triple doubles is a little exaggerated. He’s still young and maturing. I never said we should pay him big money though…we’re going to need someone who can get up the floor on the break. He’s the center I can just picture on this team as we embark on this youth movement…

    • NOLA Hustle

      June 24, 2012 at 8:43 am

      zeller is a lot like jason smith, an awful lot when you think about it. similar size, both games perfectly suited for pick and roll, have some range, expend a lot of effort, including on dfence

      the differences that pop out, as a rookie for philly jsmith lived on the 3 pt line / perimeter, so his game in college must have been out ther as well, and it still primarily is

      zeller works primarily on the low block, he pops outside on occasion, but looks first to work down low. its that difference that makes him an attractive option as someone to operate down low is what is needed to complement the big easy. also, zeller is a strong rebounder while jsmith lets them get away from him at times

  11. Josh

    June 23, 2012 at 3:48 pm

    Zeller and Jones III aren’t bad players, but they aren’t guys that I want. I think that we can trade #10 and next year’s first to move up. Next year is considered a weak draft, and we won’t be able to pick up Noel, Muhammad, Zeller, or McAdoo; so I think it is worth trading. Remember that we have many previous first-round picks that we can package to get into the first round if we want to. I think that Drummond would be a great player to get, but I would love to get Harrison Barnes. The only real knock on him is that he didn’t perform well in the tourney and in the clutch, but that isn’t major. I would love to walk out of this draft with SkyNet and Barnes.

  12. Jack

    June 23, 2012 at 6:43 pm

    Would we have to give up #10 to mOve up to #7. I would love to reunite Barnes and marshall next year.

  13. kempleton

    June 23, 2012 at 8:45 pm

    With Ariza and Okafor gone. we can only moveup …

    … EITHER by giving away some of our young talent vasquez, aminu, henry and ayon (gustavo is not that young but he was a rookie last season!)

    Do you really wanna give up all those young guys on the roster to move up 3-5 spots on this draft? I don’t think so.


    by trading the only remaining veteran of our team: Jarrett Jack. JJ is in the last year of his contract and he is going to be 29 this October. JJ is the only player with a considerably large contract (set to earn 5.4 mil in 12-13) who can be traded!

    Gordon at 23 is going to be the leader of this team until we bring in a player like Deron Williams! Our team will grow together and I believe We will be a very strong team the following season once we sign one or two star players next summer. Since we will aim to do that, do you really think we will extend a contract to Jack next summer? Probably not!

    Would you trade him on draft night if you can get a better player at #7? Let’s say Drummond? Davis-MKG-Beal-Robinson-Barnes-Lillard aaand Andre Drummond!!!

    GSW has Bogut and Lee! They can of course get Drummond and develop him behind Bogut for 2 years. Bogut is really injury prone and Drummond might even get decent minutes.

    However, with Curry and Thompson in the backcourt and Lee-Bogut in the frontcourt they might benefit from a decent SF. PJIII at #10 may be that SF/PF they need! They can keep developing Klay Thompson. JJ can become their 6th man. PJIII can play both PF behind Lee or SF behind Wright.

    They can still get a decent player like PJIII at #10. But, we get the biggest BOOM or BUST of this draft!

    BOOM! and He becomes a player compared to Bynum!
    BUST! and He becomes a player compared to DeAndre Jordan!

    I’d live with both!

    Trade up!

  14. Ben

    June 23, 2012 at 9:13 pm

    One more reason for trading up is all the excitement and momentum we have right now. If we pick Zeller, while I think he’ll be an ok role player, no one is gonna be jumping out of their seats so excited to see him in a game. Same with PJ3 since we have no idea what to make of him. By getting Drummond or Barnes we start a big 3 and make an even bigger reason for eg to stay and dwill to come

  15. gatorcatcher1978

    June 24, 2012 at 11:14 am

    We have to go with Perry Jones. Zeller isn’t much better than Smith. Even if Drumond slips to us, do we really need another Uconn big? Offer Hibbert a huge deal, sign Dragic, amnisty Jack, and you end up with a starting five that looks like this: PG Dragic, SG Gordon, SF Jones III/Aminu, PF Davis and C Hibbert. With a young, solid bench… Benson boogie part II folks.

    • gatorcatcher1978

      June 24, 2012 at 11:26 am

      Dragic or Sessions, I should have said.

  16. Anishinaabe-aamoo

    June 24, 2012 at 12:15 pm

    Fact: White centers rarely work out.

  17. nola hustle

    June 24, 2012 at 12:34 pm

    Surprised Michael didn’t make the case for the one sichation that I’d consider giving up the farm for if mkg dropped to 5. Could happen, cavs oft rumored to take k Irvings best friend Barnes @ 4, and kings have enough wings to consider trading mkg if he fell to that spot

    The big easy and mkg, now that’d ne a historic haul

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