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John Schuhmann

Tom Benson
Hornets owner Tom Benson and his wife Gayle react to winning the No. 1 position in the upcoming Draft.
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Hornets hope to replace Paul with No. 1 pick Davis


Posted May 30 2012 10:39PM

NEW YORK -- Just six months after trading Chris Paul, the New Orleans Hornets are set to replace him with a new franchise player.

The Hornets were the winners of the 2012 NBA Draft Lottery on Wednesday, giving them the right to choose consensus No. 1 pick Anthony Davis. And come June 28, they will be adding a major piece to their frontline.

The pick is part of a fresh start for the Hornets franchise. New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson recently purchased the team from the NBA, ensuring a long-term commitment to the Crescent City.

The Hornets had a 13.7 percent chance at the No. 1 pick with their own selection, the fourth-highest chance of the 14 lottery picks. The four-ball combination that won it for them was 6-4-9-7.

The 6-foot-10 Davis is the obvious No. 1 pick, a rare combination of size, athleticism and skill. And he should make a difference, at least defensively, right away.

New Orleans will also have the 10th pick in the draft, originally the Timberwolves' pick and acquired from the Clippers in the Paul trade. So, like the Cavaliers a year ago, they'll have the ability to accelerate their rebuild with two young talents.

"I think our organization is in a good spot," Hornets coach Monty Williams said afterward. "There was so much up in the air as far as who was going to own the team, whether we would stay in town. And now that all that stuff is out the way, we have the number one and 10th pick, now we just have to work. And that's what we stress from day one, we have a lot of work to do."

Unfortunately for the Charlotte Bobcats, there's no sympathy in the Lottery balls, or even in the odds. After enduring the worst season in NBA history (in regard to winning percentage), the Bobcats had just a 25 percent chance to win the top pick. Things could certainly have been worse, but they landed second, putting them in an interesting spot.

There's no consensus No. 2 pick once Davis is off the board. And there are options at every position but point guard. It could be Florida's Bradley Beal at the two, Kentucky's Michael Kidd-Gilchrist at the three, Kansas' Thomas Robinson at the four or Connecticut's Andre Drummond at the five.

The Bobcats, of course, need help at every position, including point guard. But they can only have one of the above.

"We know we're going to get a good player at number two," Charlotte general manager Rich Cho said. "Last time I was with a team that had number two [Seattle in 2007], we were able to get Kevin Durant. So, we'll go from here and hopefully find the right player for us."

The Brooklyn Nets were the other losers of the Lottery. They needed to land in the top three to keep their pick, but they stood pat at No. 6. So their selection will go to the Portland Trail Blazers as part of the Gerald Wallace trade. Along with the Hornets, the Blazers will have two Lottery picks, Nos. 6 and 11.

Wallace can opt out of the last year of his contract and choose to be a free agent this summer. But Nets general manager Billy King says he has no regrets about the trade, sounding confident that he'll be able to retain both Wallace and point guard Deron Williams, who plans to opt out next month.

"I think what Gerald Wallace brings to the table is a lot better than some of the younger guys," King said. "They may take two or three years and we're trying to win right away. Deron's getting older and we don't want to be in a rebuilding process. So we're going to add some veterans to this roster to try to improve it."

In contrast to the Nets, the Golden State Warriors were happy to stand pat. If one or more teams in the bottom half of the Lottery got one of the top three picks and pushed the Warriors back from No. 7, Golden State's pick would have gone to the Utah Jazz. But that didn't happen, and the Warriors get to keep the pick.

The Washington Wizards moved down from the No. 2 spot to No. 3. It will be their third straight top-six pick, having drafted John Wall at No. 1 in 2010 and Jan Vesely at No. 6 last year.

Last year, this was the Cleveland Cavaliers' night. This year they landed the No. 4 pick to team up with Kyrie Irving.

Irving was the 17th No. 1 pick to win the Rookie of the Year award. If Davis is the 18th, he'll do it in a Hornets uniform.

John Schuhmann is a staff writer for NBA.com. You can e-mail him here and follow him on twitter.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting.

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