Hornets take second Kentucky player at No. 46

Thursday, June 28, 2012
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com, @Jim_Eichenhofer

Anthony Davis will have at least one extremely familiar teammate in New Orleans Hornets training camp next fall. With the pick the Hornets acquired from the Washington Wizards last week, they selected Kentucky product Darius Miller. The 6-foot-7, 225-pound small forward played four seasons at Kentucky.

The 22-year-old native of Maysville, Ky. averaged 9.6 points and 2.6 rebounds on an extremely talented Wildcats squad that captured the 2012 NCAA championship in the Mercedez-Benz Superdome. Miller scored 13 points in Kentucky’s Final Four semifinal victory over Louisville, a key contribution to a 69-61 triumph. He also had 13 points in a one-sided victory over LSU in Baton Rouge this season.

Demps reacts to Davis and Rivers picks

New Orleans Hornets general manager Dell Demps addressed the local media briefly after the team made the first and 10th overall picks of the 2012 NBA Draft. Here are some of the highlights from his session:

On if he was shocked Rivers was available at No. 10:
“I wouldn’t say shocked, but hopeful. We were really hoping to get him. We really enjoyed him here on our visit. We also talked to him in Chicago. We’ve been following him his whole career. We’re very excited to bring Anthony and Austin to New Orleans. The great thing is they both want to be here.”

On both lottery picks being 19 years old:
“I was just explaining that, talking to (Saints owner Tom Benson) Mr. Benson. They’re a little younger in basketball when they come to the pros than in football. That’s part of our development program. We think we’ve got a great staff. We’re going to put them in an environment that’s going to give them an opportunity to grow and develop.”

On whether Rivers is a point guard:
“I’ll leave that up to the coach. We’ve got a really good coach here. I hope you guys know that we’re really lucky to have him. I think he’s going to figure it out and put him in the best situation that’s the best for the team. I’ll let the coach handle that one. I’ve got ultimate faith in him.”

On the rebuilding process after adding Davis and Rivers:
“I feel really good. I think with Davis, his defensive presence and his offensive upside is great. I think with Austin’s playmaking ability to go along with Eric (Gordon), I’m hoping we’re going to be really hard to guard and score on.”

On the tandem of Davis and Rivers in the future:
“I want to make sure that I say this – Eric Gordon is going to be the leader of our team next year. We’re hoping the young guys will follow his lead. We put the qualifying offer out to (Gordon) today and we fully intend to sign him this summer. We don’t want to put too much pressure on a young guy. We want to manage expectations. It would really help us for you guys (media) to understand, these guys are 19. They’re going to take their bumps and bruises. We had some guys on our roster last year that took bumps and bruises. But we’re just going to hope to grow. The whole goal is sustained success.”

New Orleans picks second familiar face at 10

Just an hour into Thursday’s 2012 NBA Draft, the New Orleans Hornets had already added two of the most well-known players in all of college basketball last season. After picking Kentucky’s Anthony Davis first to tip off the proceedings, the Hornets chose combo guard Austin Rivers of Duke. Rivers was one of the most highly-touted high school players in 2010-11, then averaged 15.5 points last season. The Florida native also authored one of the most iconic plays of the 2011-12 college season, draining a three-pointer at the buzzer to win at North Carolina.

Rivers is also the son of Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers, who was Monty Williams’ head coach for three seasons (1999-2002) when Williams played for the Orlando Magic. "I can't say that I would be here without him," Austin said of his father. "My dad has helped me so much. He put in the time, even though (he had a) busy schedule."

More quotes from Rivers:
On being drafted in the lottery:
“It’s an amazing feeling. This is just such an unbelievable feeling. I’ve been waiting on this day my whole life, and just the fact that I’ve trusted in God and worked hard and I’ve get to be with my family today is such a blessing.”

On the city of New Orleans and the Hornets:
“I love the city and I love the people there. I love how passionate the fans there are. You can see that with the Saints and the Hornets. I am ready to get out and give back to the community and continue to rebuild the city. As far as the team, I think they have great pieces there. They have Anthony Davis coming in, and they have guys like Eric Gordon and (Al-Farouq) Aminu there. There is a lot of talent there to compete and they have a great coach in Monty Williams and a great GM. I think it is a team on the rise. I feel like I fit in with that mixture very well and I’m excited to come in and work to get better. I really do feel like I can help this team get better and it is going to be a great fit.”

On his relationship with Anthony Davis:
“We’re friends. I’ve gotten to meet him over the past couple of years at AAU events and high school All-Star games. In college, we always tried to keep up with each other and see how each other were doing. He would check in with me after a game I had played, and I would check in with him after a game he played. The fact that we get to go to a new place and embark on this journey together is pretty cool.”

On playing with Davis in the past:
“I played with him the in the McDonald’s game in high school, and I’ve had the chance to compete against him a couple of times in the past. Being at all these events together, we have gotten to see how each other plays and we’ll get a better feel for it in the Summer League.”

On playing with Davis in New Orleans:
“We’re already great friends, so I think that on the court it is going to be even more natural.”

On his relationship with head coach Monty Williams:
“I’ve known Monty since I was a little kid, since I can remember anything. It’s really neat to now have him as my head coach. I know he is a tough coach who is going to get on you, but he is going to make you a lot better. I’m really happy to be heading to New Orleans and to have him as my head coach.”

On what position he plans to play in the NBA:
“I think I am both. There are things at both positions that I can get better at, but I think that is something I can transition to in New Orleans and I’m real excited to do that.”

No surprise: Hornets take Davis No. 1

After 29 days of playing coy publicly, the New Orleans Hornets can now officially say it: Anthony Davis is coming to the Crescent City. Although Hornets general manager Dell Demps could not announce that the 6-foot-10 Kentucky standout was his choice, it was assumed ever since the Hornets overcame 14.8 percent odds to win the draft lottery.

Davis will spend the remainder of Thursday evening in New York City, before taking an early Friday morning flight to New Orleans to meet members of the organization, as well as the local media. The 19-year-old expressed excitement at the prospect of returning to the site of Kentucky’s national championship win. The Final Four was held in the Mercedez-Benz Superdome, which is literally right across Girod Street from the Hornets’ 10-year home, the New Orleans Arena.

“I just want to come in and do the best I can,” Davis succinctly said on ESPN, moments after being announced as the No. 1 pick. “I know Coach Williams is a great coach and has the best intentions for me. So when I go down there, I’m going to do whatever he wants me to do and be a team leader.”

Various names at 10 and 46 on final mocks

Here’s one final look at a few of the mock drafts around the Internet. All quotes are provided by the respective websites:

1, Anthony Davis, Kentucky: “Davis is nothing short of the perfect piece for the rebuilding: superstar-level talent, high energy, hard worker, excellent character.”
10, Kendall Marshall, North Carolina: “After going big with the first pick, the Hornets address point guard with the best distributor in the draft and hope he continues to improve as a shooter.”
46, Hollis Thompson, Georgetown: “Thompson is one of the best perimeter shooters in the Draft, with the kind of 3-point range that can keep him in the NBA.”

1, Anthony Davis, Kentucky: “The Hornets’ big trade with the Wizards last week put their blueprint in sharp relief. This team is going young and will build around Davis. Although the Hornets won't be great next season, they're building a rock-solid foundation. In addition to the No. 1 pick, they now have the cap room to re-sign Eric Gordon and another significant free agent, plus the No. 10 pick.”
10, Austin Rivers, Duke: “After the first nine picks, things start to break down a little bit. The Hornets can go in a lot of directions and also are exploring trades. Sources say they offered the Rockets the 10th pick for Nos. 14 and 16 but were turned down last week."
46, Tyshawn Taylor, Kansas: “This is a steal for the Hornets if they can get Taylor here. Several teams in the late first round are looking at him as a possible selection. I doubt he slides past here. The Hornets need a point guard, and Taylor’s athletic ability and defensive prowess should make him well worth the pick.”

1, Anthony Davis, Kentucky: "We still feel pretty good about this pick. OK, we feel great about this pick. Davis becomes the new franchise centerpiece, then waits to see who's joining him with New Orleans' 10th pick."
10, Austin Rivers, Duke: "The Hornets need a point guard in the worst way, but I simply don't see them passing on the chance to pair Davis with Rivers for someone like North Carolina point guard Kendall Marshall. New Orleans is known to be very fond of Rivers, who grew up around New Orleans coach Monty Williams, a good friend of Austin's father, Celtics coach Doc Rivers. The younger Rivers, as noted earlier, can play both guard positions, and he has some executives wondering if he may be a star."

1, Anthony Davis, Kentucky: "He's the franchise-changing player that the Hornets desperately need. Davis can change the game on the defensive end -- and will also be effective on the offensive end due to his versatility. It won't take long for him to be a perennial NBA All-Star."
10, Austin Rivers, Duke: "Doc Rivers' kid isn't a point guard, but he can score. Eric Gordon, Jarrett Jack and Rivers would give the Hornets a quality perimeter trio."
46, J'Covan Brown, Texas: "The Hornets could use someone in the backcourt who can score. That's exactly what Brown does best."

1, Anthony Davis, Kentucky: “Davis gives the Hornets and their new ownership a face of the franchise and optimism for the future. He oozes upside and while he may not be an immediate star at the NBA level, many talent evaluators see a potential superstar in the making. His jaw dropping physical attributes combined with a high motor should allow him to overcome a lack of physical strength. If there is a ‘savior’ in this draft, odds are it's Davis. With the improvement that he showed offensively, he left little doubt about who the top prospect in this year's draft was. Davis impacts the game on both ends with his length and energy. He oozes potential with his long, wiry, underdeveloped body combined with his speed and athleticism. His shot shows excellent form and his post skills are showing improvement. He still needs to bulk up, but he plays tough regardless. Davis has an almost unfair combination of length, reflexes and intensity. He should become a defensive enforcer at the NBA level and if he can bulk up and develop a post game, the sky is the limit.”
10, Jeremy Lamb, Connecticut: “If Rivers is here he’s likely the pick, but New Orleans is said to be extremely high on Lamb as well with Waiters another possibility. UConn faded, barely making the tourney and bowing out in the first round. How much of the blame should be placed on Lamb depends on who you ask. He has more potential than Bradley Beal, but his disappearing act has left his stock in doubt. Lamb was unable to take over (for Kemba Walker) as the team's much needed vocal leader. But many are quick to forget that Lamb was as instrumental in last year's tournament run as Kemba. He needs to get tougher both mentally and physically as he avoids contact and can be thrown off his game by bigger, stronger opponents that get physical with him. He remains one of the most intriguing prospects in this year's draft, but his lack of consistency, vocal leadership and assertiveness has dropped his stock some. NBA Comparison: Reggie Miller.”
46, Drew Gordon, New Mexico

1, Anthony Davis, Kentucky: "No surprise here. The Hornets will draft Anthony Davis, not only a guy who has the potential to be a franchise player but also someone who could attract Eric Gordon back to town. With those two, the No. 10 pick to add a perimeter talent and a ton of cap space thanks to their recent deal with Washington, things are suddenly looking brighter in N.O."
10, Damian Lillard, Weber State: "The Hornets have needs all over, and while Lillard isn’t a pure point guard, he’s a scoring machine. Coming out of this draft with two cornerstones – one inside and the other outside – is a great start to the summer for New Orleans."

1, Anthony Davis, Kentucky: "What more can be said about Davis? He is a supposed can’t-miss prospect with great upside due to his length, athleticism and high school years spent playing guard before a growth spurt. Davis is a great weakside shot blocker and rebounder who will instantly be among the most impactful defenders in the NBA."
10, Austin Rivers, Duke: "Rivers has reportedly received a promise from the Hornets. Rivers is a creative scoring guard that can shoot, drive, and finish. Confidence may be Rivers’ greatest attributes, as he plays fearless. He has the versatility to play alongside Eric Gordon."
46, Drew Gordon, New Mexico: "Gordon is a very good rebounder and has nice athleticism. Despite taking Anthony Davis the Hornets need more quality bigs and Gordon should be able to help off the bench."

1, Anthony Davis, Kentucky: “Whatever Davis becomes, whether it is a Hall of Famer, occasional All-Star or shotblocking specialist on the very low end, he is the clear best available player. I’m not as bullish on Davis as I was on Greg Oden, Derrick Rose or John Wall on the night of their respective lotteries, but I do like him more than Kyrie Irving, Blake Griffin, Andrea Bargnani and Andrew Bogut. Irving and Griffin have played above expectations because it was difficult to imagine exactly how they would translate to the NBA. The same situation applies to Davis and that is why most opinions of him contain conditional statements even while offering immense praise.”
10, Tyler Zeller, North Carolina: “In terms of actual value as a whole, I have Zeller much further down the board but his fit next to Anthony Davis is ideal and makes him a worthwhile selection for the Hornets. Davis’ value as a shotblocker comes off-ball and Zeller’s best defensive skill is holding ground and preventing players from getting to the rim.”

Just the picks…
1, Anthony Davis, Kentucky
10, Damian Lillard, Weber State
46, Kris Joseph, Syracuse

1, Anthony Davis, Kentucky
10, Jeremy Lamb, Connecticut
46, Mike Scott, Virginia