Bright times ahead for N.O. Hornets
Published: Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, October 31, 2012 20:10
Last year was a mess. The New Orleans Hornets lost their star in their second trade attempt, the first being blocked by the commissioner. The league owned the team and was in the process of selling it. A lock-out shortened the season to 66 games. And the Hornets put together a 21-45 record good enough for last place in the Western Conference.
This year has the makings of a different story. The centerpiece of last year’s Chris Paul trade to the Clippers was guard Eric Gordon. He played a total of nine games for the Hornets last year due to injury. Gordon is healthy for the start of the season, and Hornets fans should be able to see the main prize they received when they lost their star.
Arguably the best part of the trade with the Clippers was the first round pick the Hornets received. The pick won the NBA Draft Lottery and allowed the Hornets to draft the National Player of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, Freshman of the Year and 2012 national champion in college basketball, Kentucky center Anthony Davis.
Davis highlights the list of new additions for New Orleans. Later in this year’s draft, the Hornets selected 2012 ACC Freshman of the Year, Austin Rivers, and 2012 SEC Sixth Man of the Year, Darius Miller. Free agency and trades brought in guard Roger Mason, forward Ryan Anderson, and center Robin Lopez.
Rivers is the son of Boston Celtics Head Coach Doc Rivers and led the Duke Blue Devils to the NCAA tournament last season. He was the number one ranked player coming out of high school for the 2011 recruiting class for most of the year until Davis passed him. Rivers suffered a sprained ankle during the preseason and could be limited to start the season but should be a key player in the young core the Hornets have assembled.
Every successful team needs role players to match their stars. Ryan Anderson and Robin Lopez are underrated moves that could turn out very high returns for the Hornets. Anderson is coming off a career year with the Orlando Magic and has the unique ability to shoot from distance while playing the power forward position. Anderson will spread the court and allow room for Davis to work his game in the paint.
Lopez is the master of the dirty work in the post. He will rebound and guard other centers while saving Davis from taking the brunt of the beating. Davis has been called undersized at this point in his career, and Lopez will take some hits off of him which will help the team and Davis in the long term.
It will be a tough road for the Hornets this year. ESPN predicts the team finishing 13th out of 15 teams in the West. Realistically, it would be a long shot for this team to make the playoffs, but being competitive in every game is not too high of expectations and, with a couple breaks, it could be a special season in New Orleans. Either way, the future is bright for the Hornets and their fans.