Losing and Improving

Published: April 2, 2012

Most everyone agrees that being stuck in the mid to end lottery can leave a franchise struggling for a long time. Today, Jake explains why it might not be the end of the world for the Hornets in 2013.

Just because...

The other day Ryan wrote a post that kind of depressed me. While his argument is based in reality, there are so many variables involved that the Hornets’ future, that it could swing any which way. So let’s take a more optimistic look.

Ryan correctly points out that the Hornets aren’t playing much worse with a bunch of D-Leaguers and bench players than they are with the starting lineup (minus Gordon). But that doesn’t worry me. Okafor, Ariza, Belinelli, Landry and Jack are solid but mostly unspectacular NBA players. When Kaman-Henry-Vasquez-Aminu-Ayon/Smith are giving maximum effort, the difference between them and the starters should not be that huge. If anything, this shows how good a motivator Monty Williams is.

Additionally, the Hornets have the hardest schedule–by far. Take a look at Basketball Reference’s strength of schedule rankings. With a healthy team and schedule strength closer to the league average, it’s conceivable that the Hornets could be much closer to end of the lottery or even fighting for the 8th seed in the playoffs.

To put it simply: the Hornets are not nearly as bad as their record indicates. It’s a pretty stacked draft, let’s just be happy that luck didn’t go the team’s way this season.

Purposely not setting up the Hornets to fail next season might stick the team in that mid-lottery sport next season, but that’s not the end of the world. The Hornets are flush with young talent especially once you add in the two high draft picks. Stinking up the arena and getting another high lottery pick in 2013 sounds great, but the better move might be to trade the 2013 pick for an established veteran player.

A team needs more than superstars to be competitive. They need a deep bench and solid role-players. Nick Collison and Nazr Mohammed play significant roles  for the Thunder and yet they both have a PER below 12. This season, the Hornets are showing they have that part covered. And guess what? They also have Eric Gordon who has the potential to be a superstar.

Add in the two lottery picks in a loaded draft, Monty’s ability to get the best out of his team, sprinkle in some luck, and the Hornets start to look like a team on the rise even if they don’t end up with a high lottery pick next season.


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