It’s been a long time a-comin’ but Lady Luck finally smiled towards the poor, downtrodden New Orleans Hornets. After spending a year trying to (and failing) to lose enough to get the most ping-pong balls in the NBA Draft Lottery hopper, they still managed to come away with the biggest prize: the #1 overall pick and the right to draft University of Kentucky Power Forward Anthony “The Unibrow” Davis. Depending on who you listen to, Davis is the next great PF – following in the footsteps of Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan. We shall see how he develops, but here’s hoping that this is the lucky break that leads to this team being one of the NBA’s best for years to come.
Naturally this has led to many fans (and more than a few executives) in lighting the “Conspiracy Theory” lamp. The Hornets are still technically owned by the NBA, with the sale of the team to the Bensons not completed yet. Of course, the conspiracy theory wingnuts would have been out if the Charlotte Bobcats had won it (Stern helps Jordan!) or if the Sacramento Kings had won it (Stern helps the Maloofs!). That’s what’s so great about conspiracy theories: you need no proof to always be right.
So, setting that nonsense aside, here’s a quick run-through of the Top 10 off the top-of-the-head:
1. New Orleans Hornets: Anthony Davis, PF Kentucky
No surprise. This is what it’s all about. You get a cornerstone player and then proceed to build around him. The team will have options in both this draft and in the free agent market – with signing SG Eric Gordon the next decision.
2. Charlotte Bobcats: Thomas Robinson, SF/PF Kansas
The poor, poor Bobcats. They lost and lost and lost and, on Lottery Night, lost once again. Instead of preparing their team around Davis, they must now choose one of the next set of prospects; each of whom has their pluses and minuses. Of the next bunch, Robinson might be the best. But as with everything, prospects are all in the eye of a beholder. Andre Drummond or Michael Kidd-Gilchrist are options here as well.
3. Washington Wizards: Andre Drummond, C Washington
Of all the prospects, perhaps no one other than Davis has the ceiling that Drummond has. He’s big, tall, athletic and will likely blow away executives during workouts. The problem is that he’s just as likely to never achieve his lofty heights due to motivation issues and a tendency to disappear. With Nene starting, the Wizards could bring him along slowly. Or they could take Kidd-Gilchrist or Thomas Robinson if Drummond goes #2 overall.
4. Cleveland Cavaliers: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, SF Kentucky
I kept joking with the Hornets247 guys that MKG might be the player most likely to be adopted by his coach. Byron Scott likely will take one look at his motor, his defensive capabilities and his willingness to fight and fall in love. Every contender needs a tough defender and MKG could be that for the Cavs. If not, why not take Bradley Beal and build a backcourt of the future?
5. Sacramento Kings: Harrison Barnes, SF North Carolina
Harrison Barnes could slide further than this come Draft Night. The most talented member of an UNC Final Four team and there’s issues regarding his shot-creating abilities. On a team with Tyreke Evans at the point, that should be limited. Here is a case of a team that might reach to fill a hole given they have Evans, Marcus Thornton, Francisco Garcia and Jimmer Fredette at the guard spots and DeMarcus Cousins penciled in as their PF of the future.
6. Portland Trail Blazers: Bradley Beal, SG Arizona (from Brooklyn Nets)
The Blazers luck out and turn the Gerald Wallace-to-New Jersey/Brooklyn trade into a Top 6 pick. Now the question becomes: what do they want to do? Last year they were close to a playoff spot before they opted to blow it all up. They still have LaMarcus Aldridge at the PF spot and could take Beal to replace the retired Brandon Roy. Beal isn’t quite Roy, but he’s a capable scorer and the best guard in the draft. But as I said, what do they want to do, quick renovation or whole reconstruction?
7. Golden State Warriors: John Henson, PF North Carolina
The Warriors are likely looking at one of Barnes, Kidd-Gilchrist or Robinson and hoping that he falls to them to fill their hole at the 3. That said, John Henson looks like one of those prospects who could rise come Draft Night. With Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, they seem to have their backcourt and, having traded for Andrew Bogut, they could use Henson’s rebounding and defense to help them.
8. Toronto Raptors: Jeremy Lamb, SG Connecticut
The Raptors could take the best big man available – whether Sullinger, Henson, Jones or Zeller – and try to put him alongside Andrea Bargnani. Or they could look at Kendall Marshall or Damian Lillard to deputize/take-over from Jose Calderon at the point. But I think they opt to look for a scoring guard that can help them put points up and Lamb appears to have all the tools to do that.
9. Detroit Pistons: Jared Sullinger, PF/C Ohio State
The Pistons have lacked a major interior force since the halcyon days of the Wallaces, Ben and Rasheed. They do have to ask some major questions of themselves about their future plans, but taking a guy like Sullinger could work regardless of their hole. That said, I wouldn’t be surprised if Sullinger does tumble a bit come Draft Night.
10.New Orleans Hornets: Terrence Ross, SG Washington (from Minnesota Timberwolves)
This pick is the final piece the Hornets got from the Clippers in the Chris Paul deal (that also included Eric Gordon, Chris Kaman and Al-Farouq Aminu). For a while, it wasn’t looking like this pick would even be in the lottery. Then Ricky Rubio tore his ACL and the Wolves tumbled. So what do the Hornets do? One idea is to package it with a contract (Trevor Ariza, Emeka Okafor) for another veteran piece. If they keep it, they could do worse than to go find a scorer that can come off the bench. That’s either Ross or Austin Rivers.