Hornets Beat: Looking Back at 2012

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Published: December 31, 2012
New Orleans Hornets v Los Angeles Clippers

Our writers review 2012 and make some predictions for 2013.

1. What was your favorite game to watch in 2012?

Michael McNamara: October 31st against San Antonio. Yeah, I know it was a loss, but this was the first real game of Anthony Davis’s career and officially kicked off a new era of basketball for this franchise. Davis was fantastic, going blow for blow with Tim Duncan down the stretch and Al-Farouq Aminu looked like he was poised for a breakout season. After such a terrible season the year before, it was hard to leave that game without a smile on your face and shades on your eyes because of how bright the future appeared.

Jason Calmes: Opening night. This was the moment that we’d all been waiting for: New Orleans NBA basketball with stable ownership, a long-term lease, no benchmarks, and so many signs of a bright future. I don’t even care about the outcomes of the games this season. This was the first of many games that we, the fans, earned, and earned in a way that most sports fans are never asked to do.

Jake Madison: Clippers at Hornets in Chris Paul’s return game. The energy in the arena was nuts as Jason Smith walked to the locker room after being ejected.

Joe Gerrity: Hornets-Clippers in New Orleans. Chris Paul’s first game back, Jason Smith’s clothesline, victory. That might actually be my favorite game that I’ve ever attended as a member of the media.

Ryan Schwan: Hornets-Bobcats and the return of Eric Gordon.  Already my memories of all those games missed due to injury are starting to fade.  In a few weeks I’ll forget they ever happened and Eric Gordon will be my hero.

2. Bigger deal– Tom Benson buying the team or winning the NBA draft lottery?

MM: I am going to say winning the lottery because if Benson wouldn’t have bought the team, somebody else would have and kept it in New Orleans. If the Hornets didn’t win the lottery and remained at the 4th position, we could be looking at a future with Thomas Robinson up front as opposed to Anthony Davis. A franchise player is the hardest piece to acquire. There are hundreds, maybe thousands of potential owners out there, while there are only 8-10 guys in the world who can be ‘The Franchise.’

JC: Benson. As you can tell by my answer above, I’m very focused on the team being stable in New Orleans. My opinions of the various ownership groups may differ from most, and I’ve maintained that the Benson purchase was the safest of the bunch, even if the team isn’t quite safe from where I sit. I’ll take loss after loss after loss; I’ve done that already. As long as they are losses by my team. My.

JM: It has to be Benson buying the team because without that, David Stern wouldn’t have rigged the lottery in favor of the Hornets.

Joe: I’ll go with Benson largely because the local alternative appeared to be Gary Chouest, who wouldn’t pony up 20 or 30 million more dollars to take over an NBA franchise in his home state. A penny-pinching owner is exactly the opposite of what a small market NBA team without real history of winning needs.

RS: I’ll take winning the lottery.   I watch basketball to watch basketball players.  Yes, I understand the importance of a solid owner, but if I have the opportunity to root for a game-changing talent, I want that opportunity realized.

3. What grade would you give Monty Williams in 2012?

MM: A solid B. He has done a great job of keeping the players invested in the season, even when the season seems lost. My biggest critique is his lack of creativity and his inconsistent rotations. I would love to see him at least try to push the pace from time to time or put up a lineup with the three bigs (Anderson, Davis, and either Lopez or Smith). He finally starting going with the three guard lineup, so maybe he is evolving.

JC: B. Monty is tinkering with rotations and has the guys over-achieving. They all believe, they all buy in. He’s clearly focusing on developing talent, even at the expense of wins, somethings fans and others have criticized earlier regimes for failing to do. Maybe he’s over-doing it, but he’s not repeating the mistakes of the past. He’s doing what he should be doing and more, but not enough more to get an A. What would get an A? I’d like to see this being done while keeping up an above average defense. That is not happening.

JM: B+. Monty is limited with what he can do by the talent on the team but he’s still doing a good job. I’d like to see a little more creativity on offense, but I actually think Monty is holding back a little until he gets a fully healthy squad. His rotations actually don’t bother me; like Jason said he is trying to develop talent at the expense of wins. It’s not too fun now, but that plan will pay off in the long term. I’m holding off on an A due to his defensive game plan at times.

Joe: B-minus. I loved what he did most of last season, but the times they are a changin (slightly). From the fan’s perspective, if you’re going to be bad, which the Hornets will be no matter what Monty does,  it’s important to not be boring as well. They’re dead last in pace thus far, despite fielding one of the youngest teams in the league. I’m still dying to see some big-ball lineups.

RS: C+ This team had very little talent to start the season, and it’s playing that way.  I can quibble about rotations, but it’s really just shuffling deck chairs.  I give him the plus because Lopez is displaying a previously hidden offensive game and he’s letting Austin Rivers take his lump now and try to figure things out.

4. What grade would you give Dell Demps in 2012?

MM: B-minus. Love the Anderson trade. Love the dump of Ariza and Okafor. Like the Lopez pick up and the pick of Austin Rivers at #10. Also, I thought declining Aminu’s player option was an underrated move. Wish he could have gotten something, anything, for either Kaman or Landry at the trade deadline last year. Didn’t like the Warrick for Carroll trade and I hated that he didn’t sign and trade Gordon when he had the chance. If Gordon can stay injury free or if Demps moves him down the line for more than he could have gotten this summer, however, I reserve the right to change my grade.

JC: B. I’ve looked pretty hard at Dell’s moves since he’s been here, and most have made good sense at the time even if they did not all pan out (e.g. Bayless). In 2012 (so far), Dell’s moves seem to make sense. I’m holding back on an A (or C) because the big move, the one for Eric Gordon, or the lack thereof, has yet to really be fairly judged. In particular, there just has not been enough on the court play or a trade determine if the deal was a good move. He’s found value and convinced ownership to free up space next season at the expense of depth this season. so I’ll give him the best grade I can with data today. If any of these moves bite us going forward, that will affect the final grade, of course.

JM: B. It’s tough to give Dell a grade without seeing how Gordon plays for the rest of the season. But I love the Anderson trade and dumping of Okafor and Ariza’s contracts. He’s missed some opportunities but overall I’m pleased.

Joe: B+ Getting Ayon for nothing and then turning him into Anderson on a great contract was arguably the best two-part move made all year. He’s had a few misses, but they haven’t resulted in the team being saddled the team with any behemoth contracts, Eric Gordon possibly being the exception.

RS: B+ Anderson-Ayon is a shining moment of excellence and dumping Ariza and Okafor was a good move,  but around them are things I don’t care for.  The Gordon signing.  Using the 10th pick on Rivers rather than someone else or trading it.  Not retaining enough current flexibility to be a cherry-picking trade partner at the upcoming deadline . . .

5. What was your favorite Hornets247 piece of the past year?

MM: The Tenth Pick Tournament. I love when all the writers can participate in a piece and I thought the tournament was fun, unique, and extremely informative. It is hard to pull all those things off, but thanks to the collective work of our writers, combined with the feedback from our readers, that piece accomplished all of those things.

JC: Emotionally, the one I had written for such a long time but just could not publish. Critically, I think Joe and Andrew’s coverage of Summer League and the Olympics preparation was top notch, especially given our constraints. It was really top shelf stuff, especially this video, which really made the rounds, and, I feel, has really set the tone of much of the Eric Gordon story. There’s just so much that many people don’t realize (maybe) about this stuff. I was covering Joe’s radio show, which was fun, he was working well with the Times-Picayune, we were fielding stories about the rebrand, and more. It was just a really great time, and we were operating round-the-clock for a while, and things were larger than life. Joe thinks big, bigger than anyone else at Hornets247. We all whiff on things here, but when Joe is right, it’s spectacular. Good call on going to Vegas.

JM: Joe’s interview of Eric Gordon where he just slowly backs away from the camera.

Joe: I loved Jason’s ongoing pieces on the rebrand. There wasn’t a writer in the land with more knowledge about the process and insight into the future. When Yahoo reported that Pelicans was the name chosen my first thought was “duh”.

RS: I’m a fan of two weekly pieces on our site:  Beneath the Screen and the Missing Piece.  Fills my need for current evaluations and future speculation.

*New Years Bonus Prediction: Who will the Hornets/Pelicans MVP be in 2013?

MM: Anthony Davis. You can really see the lightbulb starting to come on for this guy and I think he will finish this season strong on both ends. Then, after an offseason where he adds a couple of pounds and a few things to his game, I expect him to take the league by storm at the beginning of the ‘13-’14 season.

JC: Ryan Anderson. He’s Mr. Reliable at this point. He has the highest WS on the team, the second highest WS/48 among players with at least 100m played on the team, is one of only 4 players on the team who’s played in all 30 games, and is second in minutes played. He also leads the NBA in 3 points attempts and makes, and is second in the NBA in TO%. He’s also top 20 in field goals, field goal attempts, total points, eFG%, and OWS. All of these non-rate statistics were gathered on a team that consistently near the bottom of the NBA in pace. He might not be the best player or the most talented, but that is what you call value. I call it most value.

JM: Anderson. He’s leading the league in 3-pointers made and has been the most consistent player on the team so far. And everything Jason said above.

Joe: Eric Gordon. There’s little doubt that he’s currently the best player on the team when healthy, and I tend to believe that all his hard work on rehabilitating his knee will finally pay off.

RS: Anthony Davis – what he needs is a couple seasons of off-season physical development and he becomes a monster.   I think just one off-season of work, however, will catapult him into the top 20 in the NBA.

4 comments
Ben
Ben

1) This past Saturday night vs. the Bobcats. It was just great to get a glimpse of what the future holds for us. We got to watch Eric Gordon and Anthony Davis. This was followed closely by the CP3 return. 2) Tom Benson. I listened to Ryan and Michael's arguments on the podcast, but I disagree. I am a NEW ORLEANS Hornets fan. If this team is sold to a sketchy owner who moves the team to Seattle or something, I would lose nearly all interest in the team. I am almost positive Anthony Davis will turn into a superstar, a perennial top 3-5 NBA player, and top 20-30 player all time. But that isn't guaranteed. In a game where there are no guarantees, this team is guaranteed to stay in this city for the next 10 years and with a great owner. 3)B. Monty kept this team playing hard last season even though we were underdogs in nearly every game. I remember one podcast where ya'll went through a month and said the Hornets would be favored in one game but would probably win 2-4 games. Monty was able to go in with a lesser team on paper and still have a shot. However, he did almost ruin the tank and then this year hasn't experimented as much as I'd like him to, and he seems to have no contact with our "cornerstone." And Monty is also the reason Ryan Anderson is a Hornet as he was able to have a religious talk with him while recruiting him. 4) B. Dell made a lot of good moves, but there were a lot of "buts." The option decisions were all brilliant and hats off to him, because a lot of us were expecting (and hoping) he would pick up Aminu's otion. Also the Ariza and Okafor dump was great. He was able to trade Ayon for Anderson. But I really don't think the Magic were all that willing to keep him as Anderson has said earlier. It seemed they just simply didn't want to let him walk for nothing so they got a young center. I do like the Rivers pick as there were really no other options looking back now. I don't mind the Eric Gordon move but it looks like it could really come back to haunt him. Also made a great signing with Lopez 5) There were a few I really enjoyed. I loved the Tenth Pick Tournament. Jason's article "The Memory Remains: What's at Stake," while from 2011, he reposted it in the comments a couple weeks back and I was able to read it for the first time and I loved it. A couple others that stood out were Our Championships Will Be Tainted and Lottery Tampering. But my favorite would have to be Giving Everything They Have and Losing. Ryan did a fantastic job with that piece and it made perfect sense at the time to me. It obviously means little now as we have AD23, but it was a great piece. Bonus) Eric Gordon. Even if he only plays 75-80% of the games Davis and Anderson play(which I know is a lot because of his history), we saw on Saturday what he can do.

xman20002000
xman20002000

How can you narrow it down considering successfully finding an owner was accomplished and we got the first pick in the draft of what seems to be the evolution of a super star...who is still growing... Now that's funny for some of us...

Jordan J.
Jordan J.

1) CP3's return no doubt. 2) NBA Draft Lottery 3) B+ 4) B+ 5) Too many good pieces written on this site to narrow it down to one. Bonus: Anthony Davis

Josh
Josh

1. My favorite game was the one against Utah on Friday the 13th that Benson bought the team and Eric Gordon was great . 2. Tom Benson's buying of the team definitely for me. He is the only owner I trusted. I heard that the Dunleavy group was going to fire Monty and didn't like that. I also think we still could have picked a great player wherever we picked. I love AD, but as Jason said it doesn't really men much if I can't cheer for "my team." 3. I'd give Monty a B+. He sacrifices wins for the future, gets the guys to play hard, helped with the developments of Smith, Lopez, and Vasquez. His phone call with Ryan Anderson was really the deciding factor of him coming here. When I say he sacrifices wins for the future, I mean that he keeps certain players that will be a key part of this team in at the end of games. I don't mean that he just tanks. Look at last season's team. We sacrificed having a higher chance at the first pick by winning at the end of the season. 4. I'd give Dell an A-. I'm glad he picked up Vasquez's option because I think he will be a key leader off the bench in a few years. He brought in a pretty good backup point guard in Brian Roberts (ranked 6th best rookie by ESPN). I'm okay with the Rivers pick because everyone else he considered has been just as bad if not worse. I think Mason was a good veteran pickup late in the offseason. I like Darius Miller, but I can't say anything about him that would make or break Dell's grade. Declining Aminu and Henry was smart because they haven't given any reason to Dell for them to stay. Drafting Davis was a no-brainer. The Ryan Anderson sign-and-trade was ingenious even though we all love Goose. I also think the Lopez contract is great. I am fine with the Gordon signing because I think he is a risk worth taking. He is a top 5 shooting guard when healthy. The key is making sure he is healthy. I look at Dwayne Wade. He was constantly (and still is) hurt. He keeps decreasing the number of games he misses. What Dell now needs to do is make sure we have guys that can step in when Gordon misses his games. I originally was not in favor of the Okafor-Ariza salary dump because I thought Okafor would've been a great mentor for Davis until I realized what we were able to do this offseason and that the trade was excellent for us. The only move I can't seem to fathom is the Hakim Warrick deal. We definitely did not get the better end of the deal. We lost money and got a much worse player in return. I also wish we could have found a way to keep Jack, Landry, and/or Kaman; but I do realize they probably weren't part of the future. I somewhat wish we would have traded Vasquez instead of Jack, but Jack was the more expensive of the two. 5. My favorite piece was the 10th Pick Tournament. I remember waking up early every morning to read the new matchups and see the replies to my comments. I hope we do this next year if we decide to keep our draft pick. *Bonus: I believe the MVP will be Anthony Davis. He is already such a good player and will continue to get better this season and next after gaining some more muscle for the 2013-2014 season (Ocotber-December are in 2013). I would say Gordon, but I think Davis is safer. I also think Davis has more upside than Anderson.

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