2012 NBA DRAFT LOTTERY PREVIEW: NEW ORLEANS HORNETS
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com, @Jim_Eichenhofer
May 30, 2012
The 2011-12 Hornets were praised frequently by opposing head coaches for being one of the leagues hardest-working teams under second-year leader Monty Williams. Despite rampant injuries, New Orleans continued to play stingy defense and was competitive in virtually every game, rarely getting routed. By April, those efforts started yielding more tangible results, to the tune of an 8-5 close to the regular season (a stretch that coincided with Eric Gordons return to the lineup). Still, the past season was the first time since 2006-07 that the Hornets did not have at least one All-Star player on their roster. Adding a difference-maker to the lineup is now at the top of the priority list. I think for us right now we have to get as much talent as we can, Williams assessed. We play hard, we defend, (but) the one thing Im seeing we dont have is the upper-echelon talent. Having Eric Gordon for a few games has helped me to realize how much I miss Chris Paul and David West. Those guys are elite talents. So I think we need some talent, and then its up to me to try to fit it together with what we already have. In their two years together, Williams and GM Dell Demps have repeatedly said that they prefer a best-player-available draft approach, regardless of position. We may go after a center or a power forward, but if we dont get the pick we want, and the best player is a wing, then Im pretty sure Dell is going to be inclined to take that wing, Williams said.
What Getting a Top 3 Pick Would Mean for the Hornets
Since the Hornets actually have two lottery picks their own and a second acquired from the Clippers in the Paul trade they could earn a pair of choices in the top three, though thats very unlikely from a mathematical standpoint. Every team in this lottery is understandably focused on the No. 1 pick, but if New Orleans can move up from one or both of its pre-lottery slots of 4 and 10, May 30 will be considered a positive night for the franchise. The No. 10 pre-lottery slot carries only a 1.1 percent chance of winning, so if that slot somehow turns into a top-three draft pick, fans in the Crescent City should be overjoyed. Due to the fact that Demps took over a month after the 2010 draft and the Hornets had already traded their 2011 first-rounder, this will be the GMs first chance to select in Round 1. Even if the Hornets stay put at 4 and 10, it could be a golden opportunity to drastically improve the teams outlook for the future.
Hornets Lottery Luck
Unlike several participating teams this year, the Hornets dont have much misfortune to gripe about from past lotteries. The Hornets have not been a frequent lottery guest over their 24-year history, but won it in 1991 and finished second in 1992. They even took third in 1999 despite extremely poor odds, after they had finished with a winning record in 1998-99 and barely missed the playoffs. In 2005, New Orleans actually dropped to fourth in the lottery, but even that worked out for the best Paul was chosen with the No. 4 pick. None of their recent trips to lotto night yielded a jump into the top three, but the Hornets held double-digit pre-lottery slots in 2006, 2007 and 2010, so that never came as a surprise. This year marks the best lottery odds New Orleans has had in seven years, the first time since 05 that its not an extreme longshot for the Hornets to claim the No. 1 pick.
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