Wow, Aminu as the biggest tease in Hornets history...I would put JuJu at the tip-top of that list. I still remember his commercial for helping kids to read (or whatever) that ran at every break in '08-'09. He had this great relieved smile as he got past the last cue card.
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Hornets Beat: Anthony Davis, Greivis Vasquez and Fan Stuff
Anthony Davis and his chances of winning Rookie of the Year top this week’s edition of Hornets Beat, followed by Greivis Vasquez, the top priorities and fan stuff.
1. What percent chance does Anthony Davis have of winning the Rookie of the Year Award?
Mason Ginsberg: 35% at this point, and it’s only that high because of the hype surrounding him going into the season. I think that there are only 4 guys who are even being considered at this point, and only two with a legitimate chance to win, with Portland’s Damian Lillard out in front. The Blazers were widely assumed to be lottery-bound this season, and yet they have a 20-16 record, which would make them a playoff team if the playoffs started today. Give me Lillard at 50%, Davis at 35%, Drummond at 10%, and MKG at 5%.
Michael McNamara: I still say 50% because it is either him or Lillard at this point, no third threat that is remotely real. Lillard is out front now but he is playing so many minutes that hitting the rookie wall or an injury is a real possibility. Davis is at a huge disadvantage if both stay healthy because the Hornets have 4 quality big men while the Blazers don’t have anybody who figures to take minutes from Lillard, even on nights when he is playing poorly.
Jason Calmes: 50%. Davis’ play had dropped off. If he does not pick it back up, Lillard will have significantly better numbers. With the Hornets not making the playoffs, Lillard will have more shine if the Trail Blazers do. Injuries, or the lack of, may be the major factor in this when it’s all said and done.
Joe Gerrity: 55%. Davis has nice numbers across the board and the the benefit of being the number one pick from last year’s draft. Lillard will slow down as the season progresses. I’ll also go on record as saying that a split isn’t out of the question.
2. Fact or Fiction: Greivis Vasquez will be traded before next season begins
MG: Fiction. I don’t think it’s out of the question to deal him before next season if he keeps playing the way that he has since Gordon returned, but I don’t think the Hornets will be able to get as much value as they’d want for him. I do wonder if, when he becomes a restricted free agent in the summer of 2014, he may get overpaid by another team, but I think he will have his highest value before next season’s trade deadline.
MM: I say fact only because the most likely place for the Hornets to spend their money this summer is in free agency. Guys like Jeff Teague and Dell Demps’ favorite Brandon Jennings will be available this summer, while no marquee small forwards will be there to entice the Hornets. The Hornets can throw a big offer at someone like Jennings and if Milwaukee is uncomfortable with matching, a sign and trade can be worked out between the two teams with Vasquez becoming the centerpiece of such a deal.
JC: Fact. The Hornets real tradable assets are Lopez, Vasquez, and Smith. Rivers is in the trade filler category along with most of the roster. Gordon could be made available, but it would be a seismic event if he got traded, not a mere asset swap. Lopez’ deal is a little large for a team to absorb who is looking to cut costs. That leaves Smith and Vasquez as assets. Dell loves to trade, and those two seem like they’ll be the `main’ pieces in two trades before November.
Joe: Fact. Vasquez has value around the league and simply doesn’t fit ideally on a Monty Williams team, despite the high praise the two have for each other. Dealer Dell will do what Dealer Dell likes to do– deal.
3. With the playoffs likely out of reach, what should the Hornets top priorities be for the rest of the season?
MG: This question is such a tough one. If we could simply fast-forward to the off-season, it would be ideal for the Hornets to play all of their young guys in an effort to give them trade value and earn as high of a draft pick as possible as a result. However, the fans deserve to see a competitive team on the floor, and given the Hornets’ 5-2 record with Eric Gordon this season, providing one is clearly a realistic goal. This city deserves to see a competitive team on the court after a season and a half of suffering, so as much as it pains me to say it, they should be trying to win as much as possible. Besides, the better this team looks right now, the more attractive of a destination it could become for free agents this summer.
MM: Figuring out exactly what they have in Al-Farouq Aminu, experimenting with Anthony Davis offensively, and getting Austin Rivers his confidence back. The glaring hole on this team with regard to the Hornets future is the small forward position. As I’ve stated before, Aminu is the biggest tease in Hornets history, but one way or another, you need to figure out what he can give you long term. Davis needs to find a go-to move that he can improve on over the summer, and Rivers needs to be unleashed, consequences be damned, so he can get that swagger back in his game.
JC: On the court, they need to sort out the best way to use Anderson, Davis, and Gordon. Figuring out how to best deal with Aminu, Lopez, Smith, and Vasquez once those three are sorted is up there, but subordinate to dealing with the main three guys under contract past next year. Rivers is a project, not a priority. Off the court, the team needs to avoid taking on bad contracts that will hurt the coming offseason, continue to develop sponsorship, and continue to win back the fan base.
Joe: Aminu is the top tier of priority, then comes everything else. Obviously the point guard position will have to be sorted out, but there’s a glut of talent at that position right now across the NBA and Greivis Vasquez is adequate. Winning as many games as possible on the way home seems like the best course of action as well. Let’s see just how good this squad can be. The fans deserve that after a few years of mediocrity.
4. ________ is the best part about being a Hornets fan.
MG: Knowing that I’ve been in it from the start. I’m a New Orleans guy in his mid-20s who’s been a Saints fan for as long as I can remember, and yet there are still people who can claim the same with a timeframe twice as lengthy as mine. In the case of the New Orleans Hornets, that is not so. From the second they came to town, I was 100% on board, and will remain that way regardless of whether or not I eventually end up elsewhere. It’s a good feeling to know that I have been a devoted fan of this team for the entire duration of its existence in this city.
MM: Playing David. Look, I am a big guy and I have almost always been Goliath in life. As a Hornets fan, you know the odds are stacked against you in a league that rewards the larger markets. I think it would get boring being the fan of a big market juggernaut, but as a Hornets fan, those times when you knock of Goliath- there just ain’t nothing sweeter than that!
JC: The opportunities to learn about all aspects of the what it takes for a franchise to be successful. This team has been through so much in such a short period of time with the highest stakes there are in sports, it became a necessity learn about commonly overlooked aspects to the business of winning a title. It’s been fascinating. It’ll be hard to adjust to a normal team.
Joe: The very real feeling that the Hornets are in some ways truly our team. A lot of fans can make the claim that the team they root for is theirs, but not everyone can really say that their involvement and their fandom made the difference between the team staying and going. Anyone who bought tickets or merchandise, those who hosted or I’m In events or watch parties to get their friends involved, and people whose houses, cars or businesses are adorned with Hornets garb contributed to the team staying here. We’re the reason David Stern pulled the trigger on keeping the team in New Orleans. We’re the reason Benson stepped up and bought the franchise.
5. What has been your favorite game to watch so far this season?
MG: The most satisfying victory was the road win in Los Angeles right before the Clippers’ 17-game winning streak, but watching the Hornets beat the Spurs at home trumps it from a viewing perspective. Few things make me happier than beating the Spurs. (Yeah, I’m still bitter about the 2008 playoffs, so what?)
MM: The recent win (Jan.9th) at home against the Rockets. The ball movement was beautiful and that game more than any other really showed us how good this team could be at full strength. Houston is a team that has been giving opposing defenses fits and the Hornets held the to just 79 points, including just 10 in the final quarter. On top of that, Ryan Anderson and Gordon were both shooting terrible on that night (combined 2-19) and the Hornets still had enough firepower to win the game against a playoff caliber team. All great signs for the future.
JC: Game 1, the loss to the Spurs. I waited for that game for such a long time. There was a more drama than I hoped for, but it was the first game without the cloud of dread that hovered over every game for the past couple of seasons. As a bonus, some glimmers of hope for the future were on display. It was a great night to me.
Joe: Beating Chris Paul is on my list of favorite things in sports, so prevailing against the Clippers is number one.
I have a hard time seeing Vasquez getting traded. He is playing too well, and has a cockiness this team needs and other players lack. Also, I don't get the logic about SFs not being available so we have to make a move at PG. Any move at PG is a small improvement, compared to SF, because our starting PG, Vasquez, is so much better than Aminu.
Exihibit A for Vasquez staying: http://www.nola.com/hornets/index.ssf/2013/01/new_orleans_hornets_finding_th.html#incart_more_sports