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

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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.

 

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