Hornets Beat: 15 Games Left

Published: March 18, 2013

This week on Hornets beat we’re talking about the last 15 games, winning versus losing, and what’s in store if we lose enough.

1. What’s your prediction for the Hornets final 15 games?

Mason Ginsberg: 3-12. The Hornets will more than likely only be favored in one of the team’s final 15 games – against the Kyrie-less Cavs at the end of their current homestand. I’ll give them a win there, and then two more out of the following five games: at Utah, at Phoenix, at Sacramento, vs. Dallas, at Dallas. Out of all other remaining games, tonight may be the most winnable, but no Gordon due to back-to-back hurts those odds. The rest are simply brutal – vs. Celtics, vs. Grizzlies, vs. Nuggets, vs. Clippers, vs. Heat, at Lakers, vs. Clippers.

Michael McNamara: I got 3-12 as well. First off, I just don’t see how they win any of these next 6 games. Golden State is probably the worst team of that bunch, but the Hornets will be without Gordon tonight. I got wins over Cleveland, Phoenix, and they will go 1-1 in that home and home with Dallas. The positive aspect is that a score of 25-57 should secure a ranking of either third or fourth place for the most ping pong balls, ensuring a top 5 pick.

Andrew Smith: 4-11. I think they’ll beat the Cavs, Suns, Kings, and take one of the final two against the Mavs.

Joe: 4-11. They’ll squeak out a win against someone unexpected, but they’re just not talented to win more than four on the way home. It’s not going to be a fun offseason for Monty, or anyone under contract for next season.

2. Who is the Hornets best player right now?

MG: Anthony Davis. The guy has been on a tear recently, and if not for missing 15 games due to injury, he’d probably be the favorite for rookie of the year over Damian Lillard.

MM: Gotta go with Anthony Davis. He impacts every aspect of the game and always seems to play within himself. Can’t wait to see what new wrinkles he adds to his game this summer. If the Hornets can add a point guard this summer who can actually find him on a semi-regular basis, I think he is a lock to make the All-Star game next season.

AS: Anthony Davis. He’s the best player on our team now and I don’t expect this to change next year after he trains, bulks-up, and improves this summer.

Joe: I can get on board that train. It’s pretty telling that a kid who’s barely 20 years old is the best player on the team.

3. Fact or Fiction: You’re still rooting for the Hornets to win games

MG: Fiction. I hate that my answer is fiction, but it is. As Ryan outlines for us every summer, the odds of drafting a seriously impactful player is significantly greater with a top-5 pick than anything later, so losses now are in the team’s best interest for the future. Ideally, we’ll see continued development from all of the team’s young players while barely coming up short in the end (just like last night’s game in Minnesota).

MM: Fiction, and I am not even embarressed to say so. Look, I still firmly believe that one of the biggest reasons that the Hornets didn’t have a sustainable model of success when CP3 was here was due to the fact that he played too well his rookie season. That should have been a 20-24 win team, tops. Instead, they win 36 games and get Hilton Armstrong as opposed to Aldridge, Roy, or heck, even Rudy Gay. I don’t want to end up with Alex Len, Gary Harris, or Willie Cauley-Stein, which is what would happen if this team went on a 4 or 5 game winning streak right now. Give me some losses now that the season is already done and let me have Smart, Oladipo, McLemore, Shabazz, or Porter instead.

AS: Fact and Fiction. I want the Hornets to win games but if we lose I’m not complaining, it’s kind of hard to explain but I can’t cheer for my team to lose but when we do lose I’m not going to be upset because of the ping pong balls it will bring us.

Joe: Fiction. Ew. I disgust myself, but it is what it is.

4. How many teams would you expect the Hornets to beat in a best of 7 series on a neutral site if all teams were at full strength?

MG: I’ll take the Hornets against four teams for sure – Phoenix, Sacramento, Charlotte, and Orlando. After that, things get dicey. Detroit, Cleveland, and Toronto would all be good games, but I couldn’t confidently pick New Orleans over any of those teams assuming all were healthy.

MM: If it was neutral, Sacramento. Charlotte for sure. Phoenix and Orlando I am a little less confident about, but I would still pick the Hornets if forced to choose. Detroit and Cleveland are banged up and/or playing badly, so I would pick the Hornets over them at present and without Kevin Love the Timberwolves are a horrible team. So, I would say 7 teams for sure.

AS: I’m in the same boat with Mason– four teams. Suns, Kings, Bobcats, and Magic. I don’t think we can beat any other teams at full strength and in a series.

Joe: They’d whoop on Charlotte and Orlando, but I’m not sure that I’d actually favor them to beat anybody else right now.

5. Who are the top three players on your Hornets draft big board?

MG: I’m going to cheat on this question and list my personal “big four”, because I have no one else particularly close – Noel, McLemore, Smart, & Porter. A front court of Noel and Davis in place for the next half dozen plus seasons (at the bare minimum) makes me salivate, especially if Davis can eventually extend his shooting range to the three-point line. Thoughts of a Smart/Gordon backcourt give me a similar reaction, assuming Gordon can return to his 2010-11 season form (which I think he can do after building his endurance back up this offseason). McLemore is the best pure scorer in this class, and Porter seems to me like this draft’s version of MKG.

MM: Ben McLemore, Marcus Smart, and Nerlens Noel in that order. Working backwards, I know that Noel is not a need, but his ceiling is so much higher than any other guy after him that I can’t draft for need over ceiling. Marcus Smart is a cross between Baron Davis and Russell Westbrook on the court, with the intangibles of CP3. He isn’t a headcase like the other two guys, and I really think he fits in well with this new breed of point guards. At #1, I have Ben McLemore, the only guy in this class that I think can put up 25+ ppg in his prime. The three-point shot is so valuable in this new age of basketball, where teams go 1 inside, 4 outside and really try to spread you out. Once McLemore develops a mid-range game, he could be truly unstoppable, and his defense is above average as well.

AS: I’m not the biggest college basketball fan so I’ll have to go from what I’ve learned from the latest Missing Piece and pick McLemore, Smart, and Noel. It’s no coincidence Michael and I have the same top three since he does write the Missing Piece and that’s where I have been going for most of my draft info.

Joe: Smart, Porter, then McLemore. I’d put Noel at the four if I were going to cheat (like Mason), but that’s not how I roll. Frankly I’d be happy with anything in the top four, but there’s something about Porter’s game that really intrigues me. I don’t think we’ll ever really be talking about his potential, but instead his actual production. He’s an instant starter, solving the SF position for the next decade. I’m not even sure what they feels like.


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