The Missing Piece: Debut of the Young Pups

Published: November 10, 2012

Our missing piece may be missing from the NBA at the moment.

Last night as the New Orleans Hornets were thrashing the helpless Bobcats, the college season began with some under the radar games and a big announcement from the NCAA. For those who haven’t heard yet, top recruit Shabazz Muhammad was ruled ineligible and will be out indefinitely as the NCAA determines the length of his punishment. Muhammed is a silky smooth wing player who has drawn comparisons from James Harden to a left-handed Kobe Bryant. The early word is that even if he is ruled ineligible for the entire season, Muhammad will still be a top three pick in the 2013 draft, but not getting to see such a unique talent on the college level will be a loss for all the fans. Thankfully, we got to see these guys last night, and we might get the opportunity to see one of them in a Hornets uniform next season.

Potential Picks

– Some people wondered whether James McAdoo could make the leap from sixth man to star, and even though this first game was against Gardner-Webb, it looks like McAdoo is ready to carry this North Carolina team on his back. He scored 26 points and yanked down 14 rebounds (8 offensive) in an impressive debut. And it wasn’t just a serious of dunks and layups against an inferior opponent. Nine of McAdoo’s ten made field goals were jump shots, all coming from different spots on the floor. He hit coming off screens, hit the mid-range jumper off the pick and pop, and drilled it when he was spotted up. McAdoo is a bit of a 3/4 tweener that would fit amazingly on a front line with Anderson and Davis, once AD puts on a little weight. The bad news is that if he keeps playing like this, he will lock himself into the top-five, and the Hornets figure to be too good this year to be picking that high.

– Overall, Kentucky was rather unimpressive in their first game of the season as they narrowly squeaked by Maryland 72-69. Nerlens Noel had a forgetful night, scoring just 4 points on 6 shots and missing all of his free throws. Meanwhile, Alex Poythress, a likely target if Demps lets Aminu go, got into foul trouble early and was turnover prone as he scored just eight points in 23 minutes. One thing to keep in mind is that Calipari’s teams tend to grow more than most as the season goes on, so we’ll continue to check in on these youngsters. On the other end of the court was Maryland’s Alex Len, a 7-1 true center who dominated Noel, going off for 23 points, 12 rebounds, and 4 blocks. Len is projected to go anywhere between 5 and 10, and Dell Demps would have an interesting decision on his hands if this raw but ultra-talented big was still on the board when we picked.

– North Texas got crushed by #16 Creighton, but star forward Tony Mitchell did his part, scoring 18 while pulling down 7 boards and logging 2 blocks and 2 steals. I only watched about 20 minutes of this game, but it only took two possessions to see that Mitchell belongs at the next level. He is super talented offensively and reminds me of a more athletic Eddie Griffin, the 7th overall pick from the 2001 draft. I know that Griffin’s career and life ended tragically, but I am just comparing him as a college basketball player, and for those of you who remember Griffin at Seton Hall, imagine a more explosive version. Kid is impressive.

– The Lehigh/Baylor game was probably the most interesting of the night when it comes to watching possible 2013 draft prospects that might fall into the Hornets range. Lehigh point guard CJ McCollum is the guy who has the best chance to become this year’s Damian Lillard- a point guard from a small school who goes from off the NBA radar to lottery pick. You might all remember him as last year’s tournament darling as he dropped 30 on Austin Rivers and Duke in Lehigh’s monumental upset over the #2 seed. He kicked off the 2012-13 season with 36 points, 8 rebounds, 3 steals, and 2 assists in a loss to #19 Baylor. Meanwhile, Baylor freshman phenom Isaiah Austin looked poised to make people forget Perry Jones III, as he went 10-12, scoring 22 points in just 17 minutes.

– Chad Ford has updated his top 100 for the upcoming season, and the first thing you notice is that front court players make up 17 of the top 20. If Aminu continues to play well and the Hornets welcome him back, then New Orleans is loaded up front and would be forced to either pick for a need or draft a guy who couldn’t get any playing time in his first or second year. BJ Young is the only point guard in Ford’s top 20, but he is more of a combo guard, not the true point that the Hornets so desperately need.

Breaking Down the Denver Wings

The Nuggets have an overload at the two/three position and Dell Demps is likely keeping a watchful eye on them, hoping to pluck away one of their talented wings for cheap. The crazy part so far, is that if you just look at the production, it is clear which swing the Hornets should target- Corey Brewer. Iguodala isn’t giving the Nuggets more this year than what Aminu is giving the Hornets, Danillo Galinari has forgotten how to shoot, and Wilson Chandler simply looks lost. Meanwhile, Brewer has the best defensive rating of all the regular rotation players on the team and he leads the wings in offensive rating, three-point percentage. points per minute, PER, and defensive rebound percentage. It can easily be argued that Brewer has been the Nuggets second best player this season behind Kenneth Faried, and he will be completely unrestricted this summer.

Anderson and Davis Sandwich, Just add Mayo?

The Dallas Mavericks signed OJ Mayo to a two-year deal this summer, with the second year being a player option for just over four million dollars. That might have been a mistake, because if Mayo keeps playing like this, he is likely gone. OJ is scoring 22 points per game on just 15 shots and is hitting 60% of his three’s, which is insane considering he takes 7 per game! You have to wonder if the Hornets could target him this summer if they choose to unload Eric Gordon. Mayo, like Gordon, is a bit of a combo guard and the Hornets targeted Rivers because they wanted two guys who could handle the ball late in games, essentially sharing the load. Mayo is just 25 and fits that “young vet” profile that Dell covets.

The Missing Piece is a weekly article that you can find every Saturday only on For past articles, click here.              


  1. Snow

    November 10, 2012 at 3:31 pm

    If we could get Mayo and Gordon doesn’t work out, that’d be so awesome! I have really been a fan of his.

  2. usufruct

    November 10, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    Wait. There’s a guy named Nerlens? WE MUST DRAFT HIM.

  3. NOH2313

    November 10, 2012 at 10:25 pm

    Corey Brewer would be a great pickup to solidify our bench. His name has floated around Hornets’ forums for a while now, and I’d love for to finally don New Orleans colors.

    A bench of Rivers-Brewer-Miller-Anderson-Smith would be top notch.

    If we are able to somehow land McAdoo, I think Aminu is out the door (despite how decently he’s played so far). Miller is more than capable backup at the 3. We could then use that money and the cap space remaining from Lewis’ expiring to sign Brewer and perhaps a playmaking point such as Jennings.

  4. Lanative

    November 10, 2012 at 10:40 pm

    I love Mayo and Brewer but if we could land in the draft to get McAdoo that would be awesome. I am just sort of thinking EG and what are our plans for him or his plans for us. Yes he is in the forefront of my mind. Just want this issue settled.

  5. 504ever

    November 10, 2012 at 10:53 pm

    Great article. Michael.

    I probabaly like Brewer, McCollum, and McAdoo in that order. But cost will be an issue for Brewer, if we can get him at all. And let’s not get all excited about anybody’s performance against Gardner-Webb. There will be lots of ACC games to measure McAdoo by. Besides post season, the only stats I ever care about for ACC teams are conference games stats.

    • NOH2313

      November 10, 2012 at 11:36 pm

      Price shouldn’t be an issue with Brewer.

      A- We have the cap space
      B- Defensive players never fetch large contracts
      C- He’s highly underrated

      • 504ever

        November 11, 2012 at 1:10 am

        I hope your right about B & C, but A is irrelevant. You can’t over pay just because you have cap space.

        As for B & C, Brewer has a PER of 18, highest on the Nuggets out of anyone playing more that 7 minutes/game. He is averaging 12 points and 4.5 rebounds per game playing a mere 22.5 minutes/game. (That’s 25 points and 9.5 rebounds per 48 minutes!) He is also 16 of 39, 41%, on 3 point shots. So Brewer is much more than a defensive player and my first choice from this article.

        I can’t see Brewer not being in demand, and commanding a strong contract, if this keeps up.

  6. Mike P

    November 11, 2012 at 1:28 am

    I created a search on Basketball Reference that may help or give people an idea to create a shortlist of players for certain spots

    Seems complicated, but once you knock out the guys that aren’t 3s or aren’t athletic enough to guard 3s, you start to get an idea of the fit that I’d like for the 3 spot. This is operating on the naive assumption that Gordon is healthy and a Hornet.

    Kawhi Leonard is my ideal guy here. SA loves him, so it is probably unlikely. But what’s important about him is that SA stole him at #15 in the draft. Hell, if Darius Miller were an inch taller and a little more athletic, I think he’d be a great long-term fit, and he was drafted in the second round.

  7. mojart

    November 11, 2012 at 6:18 pm

    tony mitchell and mcadoo…..but i will still keep my finger cross on shabazz…..

    • Houp Garou

      November 11, 2012 at 11:37 pm

      Yes you’re right that the chances of us landing mcadoo seem slim. Much as i like him i don’t want to see anymore losing basketball. Its time for winning culture to take hold and for us to play our way out of lottery

  8. BRballboy

    November 13, 2012 at 11:12 am

    Yesterday, I posted about EG being The Missing Piece, & his pic belonging in the series title. What happened?
    Also posted SG being the real need, with our loaded frontcourt and AR & GV at PG. Rivers, I think, will be a quality PG with 20 lbs. muscle added over next offseason or two.
    Then I plugged Goodwin of Kentucky as a good draft pick, and Kmart & Mayo as free agents. What happened to the post?

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