Tenth Pick Tournament Semi-Finals: Perry Jones III vs. Tyler Zeller vs. Trade Up

In the second semi-finals contest, it’s a 3-way battle between last week’s two winners, Tyler Zeller and Perry Jones III, along with the recently revived plan to trade up in the draft.

Tyler Zeller

(by Mason Ginsberg)

This semi-finals match-up simply could not have been timed better. Before Ariza and Okafor were traded away, Zeller was still both a fit for the Hornets and possessed the skills to be the best player available at the 10th spot. Now, with Okafor gone, you can add “need” to that list, because guess what? The Hornets have zero centers under contract! While clearing Emeka’s contract from the books is undoubtedly a good thing for the future of this franchise, it means that the team is left without a true starting-caliber center, and therefore must find one in free agency or the draft. Let’s take a look at both options, shall we? (If you want to learn more about Zeller’s unique and diverse skill set as well as his great fit with Anthony Davis and the Hornets, click on either of those links for prior Zeller matchups.)

Free agency would certainly seem like a convenient option, but the brutal reality is that there just aren’t any options available at the position over the next two seasons who are not only starting-caliber, but who also make sense for the Hornets long-term. Furthermore, the position is frequently overpaid, as teams generally have to pay a premium for size. Look at the two centers on the Hornets’ roster this past season, for example; combined, Kaman and Okafor made a stunning $26.5 million in 2011-12. (For comparison’s sake, the 10th pick in the draft will make about $2 million per year for each of his first four seasons.)

Bringing back Chris Kaman on something like a 2-year deal for around $6-7 million would be a decent move, but he will likely look for a more lengthy and more lucrative contract, something the Hornets should be very wary about offering in order to properly reconstruct the roster. In 2013, apart from Al Jefferson, Emeka Okafor, and Dwight Howard, there aren’t any quality centers set to become unrestricted FAs. The moral of the story here is that if the Hornets decide to pursue the free agency route for a center, they will likely end up overpaying a sub-par player.

As a result, the Hornets’ optimal option would be to use the draft to plug the hole left by Okafor. Doing so would make a lot of sense since the team would be paying him on the rookie scale instead of bidding for him on the free agent market. One of the most beneficial aspects of top draft picks is the potential for that pick to vastly outplay that rookie scale contract, and Zeller should have close to as good of a chance as anyone to do so, as he is the most NBA-ready center in the draft, the position that typically commands the most money.

This is not to say that they should reach for a less talented player in this spot if Zeller is already gone just because that player is a center, but if Zeller is still on the board, he fits in too many ways for the team to pass up. Of course, the Hornets could either add a fourth power forward to their roster (Perry Jones III) or attempt to acquire a pick even higher than 10th, despite the lack of expendable assets that the team would need to do so. Both of those options clearly make tons more sense than drafting Zeller, right?

The Case for Trading Up

(By: Michael McNamara)

This draft has a super-elite tier that consists of one player. After that, it has a quasi All-Star level tier that consists of five guys, and once you get past those guys it is a muddled mess at tier three. Because of that, if the Hornets have any chance to trade up and grab a guy in that second tier, they should jump on it.

The two teams I would target are Sacramento and Golden State, who hold the fifth and seventh picks respectively. By all indications, the top four will go: Skynet, Thomas Robinson, Brad Beal, and MKG. Recent rumors have the Trailblazers locked into Damian Lillard at 6, meaning that you can have your choice of Barnes or Drummond at five or take whichever guy the Kings don’t take at seven. Walking out of this draft with Skynet and either one of those guys will be a coup, and the Hornets should be willing to move any asset to do it. Without further adieu, here are my proposals.

Trade #1 : Al-Farouq Aminu, Gustavo Ayon, and #10 for Francisco Garcia and the rights to Harrison Barnes

I know it seems like a lot to move up five spots, but if Harrison Barnes is the small forward of the future, Aminu will never develop and is not worth hanging on to. Ayon hurts even more for me, but you have to give to get. Ayon can help stabilize their frontcourt, and after the Kings add John Henson or Meyers Leonard at number ten, they will finally have a balanced squad. Francisco Garcia has one year left on his deal (and a team option for ’12-’13 that Hornets obviously won’t pick up), so the Hornets will still have the ability to go into the summer with a TON of cap room. A core of Eric Gordon, Harrison Barnes, and Anthony Davis will be more than enough to attract an elite guard (CP3 or Harden) or an elite center (Dwight or Bynum) to come and fill out the roster. Can you say Dynasty?

Trade #2: #10 and unprotected 2013 first-rounder for #7

If Barnes falls to seven, I admit that the Warriors would probably pass, but if the Kings take Barnes at five, there is nobody on the board that the Warriors are crazy about. Basically, they can get the same guys at 10 (Terrence Jones, Moe Harkless, Ross, etc.) that they will be forced to reach for at 7. Why not pick up an extra asset? The Hornets, meanwhile, select Drummond in this scenario and hope that Monty and Anthony Davis rub off on him. The problem with Drummond is his motor, but competing against Davis and Jason Smith every day in practice should help that, as will Monty’s hands on approach. The added bonus is that Drummond won’t have a mountain of expectations heaped on him the way that he would if he were the sole first-round pick for another franchise. The Hornets can afford to be patient and let he and Skynet’s games grow together.

Again, the Hornets retain all their cap space in this situation and have an ultra athletic, high flying front court of Aminu, Davis, and Drummond to pair with Eric Gordon. And with 25 million in cap space still available in the summer of 2012, the Hornets have the ability to throw a max contract at a certain point guard and still have enough to upgrade the small forward position if Aminu or Henry don’t pan out.

Zeller is a safe pick with a much lower ceiling than either Drummond or Barnes, and Perry Jones is an Aminu clone who is plummeting down draft boards for a reason. We already hit a homer with Anthony Davis, and if we continue to be aggressive, this draft can be a grand slam- jump starting our dynasty. Jones or Zeller can’t give you that. Trading Up can.

Perry Jones III

(By: Jake Madison)

I’ve gone over Perry Jones III’s potential, athleticism, and fit with the Hornets in the first two rounds. Here in the semi-finals I’m going to take a slightly different approach. My argument today is built on the fact that traditional positions don’t exist anymore. The Hornets traded away their one “true” center, but does that even matter? Go look at the box score for the Heat’s win over the Thunder last night. The Heat’s one “true” center only played 3 minutes.

That’s why I don’t think a player like Tyler Zeller is that important. He’s a non-versatile player who has little room to grow. Players like that are easy to neutralize and become big non-factors during a game. Look what happened to Kendrick Perkins in the Finals. You could argue that having him, a “true” center, out on the court hurt the Thunder. Factor in Zeller’s very poor 8-foot 8.5 inch standing reach and I’ll pass on him.

If there Hornets were to trade up and try to snag Drummond, the same problem presents itself. Drummond is a better prospect than Zeller, but there is no versatility. That isn’t what I want out of a top ten pick.

I want someone who is 6-foot 11, 235 pounds, 7-foot 2 wingspan, 8-foot 11 standing reach and has freakish athletic ability.

I want a someone who can play and defend multiple positions.

I want Perry Jones III.

Some say that being a jack-of-all-trades but a master-of-none is a bad thing. I disagree in this case. I want someone who can be a five-tool player (perimeter scoring, inside scoring, distributing, defense and rebounding). Jones III is one of the few players in this draft who has the potential to do all of that.

Jones III will need some time to develop a more consistent jump shot, but he has shown strong shooting range for a near 7-footer–even being able to shoot from deep.

With respect to inside scoring…have you seen the dude throw down dunks? When he’s not trying to get on SportsCenter’s top 10, Jones III has incredible footwork in the paint and a pretty little hook shot. With his height, he has no problem getting his shot off in traffic.

As for distributing, one overlooked part of Jones III’s game is his unselfishness. If he is doubled, he is going to pass the ball rather than try and force a shot. I’d be excited to see him cut to the basket and kick out the ball to an open Eric Gordon for 3.

Rebounding and defense go hand in hand. Jones III’s height and athleticism will help him out with both of those. His height will make him a pain for opposing players and he has the quickness to keep up with faster big men. With rebounding, all the tools are there, he just needs to get the timing down and he could be an absolute beast on the boards–particularly offensive rebounds.

Aside from his potential, Jones III’s versatility is what really makes him a great fit for the Hornets. He could become the starting swingman, or he could also be a starting big man if there are lots of injuries. I see him as filling a Lamar Odom-type role for the Hornets. That versatility is not something that can be passed up at the 10th pick.

Check back tomorrow for our counterarguments and your chance to vote for who moves on to the Finals.

31 responses to “Tenth Pick Tournament Semi-Finals: Perry Jones III vs. Tyler Zeller vs. Trade Up”

  1. This is a tougher proposition than the first because we don’t know what the trade options would be. Trade #1 looks good for us but not for GS, so why would they do it? The 2 options that you show might work but we need starters at PG, SF, and C. Plus we already have a good amount of cap space.

    The most likely of these scenarios would have to be Zeller, although I’m not happy with his defense. Perry Jones III plays the same position as Anthony Davis and/or Aminu, and it doesn’t make sense to draft a backup at #10 when you could get a starter for one of the above positions.

  2. I wasn’t going to comment so early, but I found this article on Barnes and it pushed me to reconsider. (I’ll get to the article in a minute.)

    Post Hornets-Wizards trade, this is no contest. Mason says it perfectly: ” Before Ariza and Okafor were traded away, Zeller was still both a fit for the Hornets and possessed the skills to be the best player available at the 10th spot. Now, with Okafor gone, you can add “need” to that list, because guess what? The Hornets have zero centers under contract!”

    Looking at the other choices reinforces the Zeller argument. Jones has issues with his position (he is a PF who won’t play inside so has to play SF) and motor (doesn’t try all that hard, especially at what he isn’t good at, that’s why he will never be an NBA PF and may never be an NBA player after his rookie contract). Jones is also basically Animu 2.0, including being a PF who won’t play inside so he is a SF, and having issues with his motor.

    So that brings me to Barnes. I have posted about how Barnes is a one-dimensional player who only wanted to shoot from the outside and never did things like drive to the basket or rebound. Well you don’t have to take my word for it. Here is an article by the Bobcats beat writer, who lives in North Carolina and watched Barnes a lot in college, saying don’t draft Barnes because he is a one-dimensional shooter http://www.newsobserver.com/2012/06/22/2152607/harrison-barnes-matt-carroll-redux.html

    Finally, I want to point out this isn’t a draft with a talent break down of 1/5/dozen. It is a draft with a talent breakout of 1/3/2/dozen, and the “two” are Barnes and Drummond. I would bever trade up for Barnes or Drummnond. I MIGHT trade up for one of the “three” but, in the end, the price is too high.

    In the first trade it’s a three for one, plus you take back a Trevor Ariza-like player and salary; that makes no sense. The Hornets just dumped Ariza to start rebuilding! Plus Salmons is 32, and an SG who can’t shoot or score!

    The second trade is a non-starter. You can’t do a two for one in which you trade away next year’s 1st rounder unprotected. The Hornets are just an Eric Gordon injury away from top half of the lottery in 2013. And guess what happens to basketball Olympians in the season after the Olympics? Their injury rate goes way up because of all the basketball they play in the Olympics summer places too much additional stress on their bodies.

    I expect Zeller to win in a landslide.

    • …no offense, but this is a terrible article on Barnes. Just because he likes shooting and highlights the fact that he’s a good shooter makes him one-dimensional? Also what the hell is a ball-handling contest, and why would you challenge a 50 year old to one? Gilbert Arenas used to challenge guys to shooting contests all the time, doesn’t mean he was one dimensional…

      • I guess you missed this part of the article, and perhaps others:

        “Barnes almost never goes to the basket. You watched the Tar Heels last season. You waited for Barnes to fake a shot and drive and draw a foul or hit a layup. But if Barnes drove, it was in a car after the game.”

      • Saw that. I watched UNC games and while Barnes isn’t exactly Dwyane Wade, I never got the impression Barnes was afraid to drive to the basket

      • That article reminds me a lot of articles about Lebron not being clutch.. Basically, a person makes a bunch of claims but then doesn’t back them up in anyway.

        Here’s a stat. MKG, known for his reletnless attacking of the basket, took less FT’s a game than Barnes. Granted it’s a minimal difference (0.3 per game)
        Barnes took 10 2 pt shots a game and had just over 5.1 ft’s a game.
        MKG took 7 and had 4.8.

        Either people are consistently fouling Barnes on jump shots, which is highly unlikely given his proficiency to create space and height advantage, or CJ Williams is right (and Barnes) are right and he can and does attack the basket more than poeple give him credit for.

        If he really is a jump shooter like poeple say then that’s even better. I’d take a player whos attacking the basket 4 times a game and drawing an average of 2.5 fould on those 4 trips. Sign me up.

        Side-note, that is a poor article. I don’t think i’ve ever seen an article that lazy on 247..

    • Nicely written.
      I check out other teams’ blogs from time to time and I think that aside from a few misfires here and there Hornets’ fans are far more articulate, realistic, and knowledgeable. Not just on this site but on hornetsreports and at the hive. Everyone should check out those other two as well.
      I’m going with Zeller too. I don’t think he’s as one dimensional as Jake says. He is a good high post player and although he may be a bit redundant at first since we have J Smitty, I think he will be a good player. The only worry I have is in his interview where he talked more about playing away from the rim. If Skynet (my first time using his newly appointed nickname!) develops his outside shot (dude shot threes in HS and NCAA) then the 7’0 guy on the floor better be boxing out and banging in the post for the possible putback.
      Trading up could me nice but the Barnes trade seems bad. I wouldn’t throw away a first rounder. I’d rather roll the dice, and who knows how good we’ll be next year, we may end up with another high pick (Noel). I like the Golden State one though. We swing for the fences and will almost certainly remain bad enough for a decent pick next year for a PG (remember guards are more likely to fall in the draft).

    • yes, that was my first reaction reading the article. watching so much unc, i like zeller better than barnes, and don’t see trading down to gey barnes at all. he lacks the heart to make a great impact in the nba

  3. i dont think any of the trade up senarios will work, but if they do i would be excited to get either barnes or drummond. my second choice would be pj3 as i think him reaching a lamar odom level is plausible. Maybe he never becomes an all star but if you can get a 20 year old lamar odom at pick ten you take it.

  4. Man this is tough. Zeller I like but Jake is right the “true” centers are outta fashion now in the NBA. So zellers out for me. But the trade up and PJIII is tough. PJIII has all the tools to be great but he needs to be mentored and pushed and I think we have the coach to do it with Monty so I’m leaning towards PJIII but I’ll have to wait and see the arguments tomorrow

    • But Zeller is a true Center like Jason Smith is a true Center. They both run the floor and have an outside shooting game suitable for ‘pick and pop’ plays. Zeller showed his shooting range in Chicago.

      It’s a nice trick to put Zeller down by saying his is a true Center like Kendrick Perkins, but he isn’t. Perkins is a slow wide-body type. Zeller is longer, thinner, faster, and quicker than Perkins.

      • 504ever, you’re on fire today.
        Below I listed the more likely lotto bigs who participated in the combine’s stats. LA = Lane agility 3/4 = 3/4 court sprint, bench is how much they bench pressed, and quick is tacken from nbadraft.net which I think is given from an eye test. saying zellar is the more traditional slow bigman couldn’t be further from the truth.
        L.A. 3/4 Bench Quick
        Zeller 11.13 3.4 16 9
        Drummond 10.83 3.39 10 10
        Robinson 11.96 3.17 15 9
        Sully 12.77 3.81 9 6
        Leonard 11.34 3.41 19 8

        This should also show Ryan why Leonard isn’t the worst pick we could take.

      • agree 100% with 504 too. as i read the article, the points that popped out at me were that it would be a waste of assets to trade down for barnes, who i really dont trust, and

        how much i disagreed with jakes opening comparing perkins to zeller. in fact, zeller would have been very useful in that series as he’s not slow to point of being a disadvantage, plays solid and grab boards. closer to collison than perkins but with more offense

    • 1. zeller should not be compared to perkins as he moves incredibly well for a 7 footer, completely different prototype of player.

      2. just because the dynamics of this particular finals were such that perkins was a negative on the floor, that’s not always the case. a couple years ago boston needed him to put a body on bynum or that had no chance. i dont think we’re at the point where you can say the nba has evolved to the stage where the need for true big men is a thing of the past

      • to be fair, no you didnt. i extrapolated that partly because it almost does seem that way. however there are still great teams with great bigs that you need to prepare for if you are to win it all. that’s why a guy like tyson who can gaurd bigs, or affect players like lebron are the ideal, or even better tyson 3.0 aka ad aka the big easy

      • You’re totally right. There is no right way to build a team. (There is a wrong way: thanks Wizards!!!)

        I’ll address the rest of this in the counter points tomorrow since all the writer agreed we wouldn’t really say anything in the comments to sway people.

      • Yeah, After watching finals like that you see why coaches / gms are always seeking versatility (and obviously athleticism)

  5. This ongoing draft tournament reminds me of the ESPN feature “Who’s More Now” a few years back.

    That’s not a compliment.

    • Bonaparte,

      Mike posted a response to a comment like this in Ryan’s piece today and I’m going to echo him here: what real purpose does this comment have? If you don’t like this series, that’s fine, that’s your opinion. It’s cool. Not everyone is going to like everything on the site.

      But instead of just coming in with a negative comment that does not add to the discussion (which we at Hornets247 would like to avoid) why don’t you tell us WHY you don’t like this tournament. We take reader feedback seriously. If there is something else you’d like us to cover, let us know that as well. You can reach me @nolajake on twitter or if you want email me at nolajake86 at gmail dot com.

      But comments that basically say ‘This sucks’ don’t serve any purpose.

  6. An unprotected first round pick in next years draft to move up 3 spots this year is a big price for someone who will not likely contribute this year. I don’t think GS will draft Drummond at 7 so we just need to be at 8 before the Pistons pick. I think 10 + next year’s top 10 protected would be all I’d be willing to give up.

  7. I could see a trade by Dell in this draft, but not either of those scenarios. Any other trade options that might be considered? Such as trading the 10th for players rather than picks?

  8. Always been a big fan of PJIII now that we have Davis.

    Voted for trade up though because I think Barnes would compliment both EG and AD very well. Super solid mid range and outisde game to go with EG’s d-wadeish driving and cutting. Plus with EG being one of the best P n R ball handlers around that would reduce the requirment on Barnes to be a frequent ball handler. He’d basically just have to be able to get his own shot in the mid range off one or two dribbles and knock down open threes to get 15+ a night. Anything else would be a bonus.

    Personally, I think his ball handling and ability to go to the basket will be better than everyone thinks but in that team (PG x/EG/HB/AD/C x) who really cares. We’ve got around 40 points from the wings – EG + Barnes – plus 15 – 20 from Davis.

    All we need is a pure point (sound like any available free agents who happened to play at NOH?) and some solid role players and we’re good to go!

  9. Jeremy Lin has been given the magic bird rights for his half a shortened season of service to the knicks. Too bad for anyone that wanted to throw an offer at him!

  10. In this deal maybe its best if we trade up.There’s alot we could’ve done, but b/c of the trade on wednesday it complicates things for a trade up. This can be a good thing if we trade up to get Barnes but its a possibilty that Barnes will be chosen at the NO.s 2 pick by the Bobcats. Its also even a possibilty that the Cavs is trying to move up because they want the Bobcats pick as well.In the end we could do alot with Lillard then any of these guys but the question is “Will Lillard be available?” if we trade up its still a posssibilty we still won’t get the draftee that we want. by the way how would anybody fill about Deron Williams to the Hornets or signing D.J. Augustin along w/Javale McGee.adding those guys along with other free agents:

    PG: DEron Williams(Signed),Jarrett Jack, J.Vasquez,J.Dyson
    SG: Eric Gordon,Austin River(R),Xavier Henry,
    SF: Rashard Lewis, Al Aminu, Lance Thomas
    PF: Jason Smith,Carl Landry(REsigned)
    C: Anthony Davis(R), G.Ayon, Omer Asik(Signed)

    2nd RND pick traded to Portland for cash

    PG:D.J. Augustin, J.Vasquez,J.Dyson
    SG:Eric Gordon,Terrence Williams, Xavier Henry
    SF:H.Barnes(R), Al.Aminu,Lance thomas
    PF:R.Lewis, Carl Landry(REsigned),
    C:A.Davis(R), G.Ayon,Omer Asik,(2nd RND pick)

    which one sound better to You!!!!

    traded J.Jack,J.Smith, and 10th Overall trade up to 5th overall/unprotected future draft pick

    • SORRY forgot to put that Lance Thomas was also traded to the kings for Cash and the hornets acquires Javale McGee at the starting center spot while Lewis & Davis moves to the 3 & 4 positions. Either way it goes its sets up for a good playoff team, and barnes playsd AT 2, & 3 BACK-UP position.

    • I am all for dreaming, don’t get me wrong. But I am also realistic.
      1 – Anthony Davis is not a C. he is a PF
      2 – I love how you have 15 players listed… but gee – they are a stretch. When it comes to our back up’s and 3rd string options. For exapmle: Asik would get a job starting on a playoff team, why would he back up on a lottery team?
      3 – I can only put my money where my mouth is, so here it goes.

      PG: Marshall (#10), Vasquez, Dyson (Jack = amnesty for the $5mil)
      SG: Gordon, X Henry, Terrence Williams (I like that idea A LOT!)
      SF: Lewis, Aminu, Lance Thomas
      PF: Anthony Davis, Carl Landry (if like a 3yr/16mil contract) J Smith
      C: Hibbert (worth a 4yr/56mil contract), Ayon, Miles Plumlee (#46)

      When Lewis comes off the books we can look at signing someone like Josh Smith with the available cap room.

  11. I would say if we trade up for Drummond we move Gordon. We are still left with a huge decision to make about whether he’s worth the mega deal we will have to give to him then hope he can live up to it.

    We are drafting Davis 1st(which I’m on record as saying it’s a mistake). He not likely to be Durant, Rose, or even Irving where he’ll give you all-star type production right out of the gate. Lets start building for the future today instead of trying to win now. Signing Gordon is a win now deal for a guy who we can’t be comfortable with due to his lack of accomplishment mostly due to injuries.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.