New Orleans draft haul receives rave reviews

Saturday, June 30, 2012

By virtually all independent and objective accounts, the New Orleans Hornets were a big winner in Thursday evening’s NBA Draft. Here are draft grades and report cards for the Hornets from numerous national websites. All comments are provided by the sites:

Grade: A

Getting their hands on Davis assured the Hornets an A regardless of whatever else they did in the draft. He's got the chance to be a superstar. As for Rivers, I'm skeptical but I will say this: He landed in the perfect situation for him. Coach Monty Williams cares about Rivers. Williams is a great coach and will demand the best out of him. I think the Hornets will go out of their way to develop him and put him in a position to succeed. So often the success or failure of NBA prospects depends on which team they go to. I can't think of a better home than New Orleans alongside a guy who should be a dominant NBA big man. As for Miller, he's got a chance to be a nice rotation player who can come off the bench, defend and hit spot-up 3s.

Grade: A

For all the hype surrounding No. 1 pick Anthony Davis, it's time to scale back the expectations. This isn't LeBron James we're talking about, and Davis may very well struggle early as he figures out how to affect the game in his unique way at the next level. But he's a tremendous player around whom to start building, and the Hornets didn't stop there on draft night. Despite the Hornets' need for a point guard, I still think they took the right route in picking Austin Rivers (No. 10) over someone like North Carolina point guard Kendall Marshall (No. 13 to Phoenix). Rivers can play both guard positions, and a backcourt that is likely to include restricted free agent Eric Gordon won't lack for offensive punch. New Orleans also landed an experienced and talented small forward in Kentucky's Darius Miller at No. 46.

Grade: B-plus

It is hard to find fault with the Hornets' draft night. Davis has been the consensus top pick and Rivers is one of the top scoring guards in the draft. On a team that fell so far following the Chris Paul trade, this draft has given them two building blocks for the future. Miller is an athletic wing and committed defender who should be able to make the team. The only possible complaint with what they have done is their trade of Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza for partially guaranteed contract of Rashard Lewis. But for as team looking to build for the future, this will likely turn out to be a great move as well.

Grade: B

The drafting of Austin Rivers marked the 11th straight year in which the son of an NBA player was chosen. That is useless information, but the NBA wants you to know it, anyway, probably so you can imagine what it will be like when Metta World Peace’s son is drafted. Despite his pedigree, Rivers probably will have to squeeze into the point guard spot in New Orleans—that will take some work and might not pan out.

Grade: A-plus.

Last year, coach Monty Williams yanked the Hornets’ defense out of the cellar. This year, GM Dell Demps has drafted the finest defensive specimen we’ve seen in the college ranks in over a decade. Even if Davis never averages more than the 14.3 points he put up in his lone season at Kentucky, he will be a star in this league and an instant force around the rim. And no, Eric Gordon’s presence in NOLA doesn’t make Austin Rivers redundant; if anything, Gordon’s incumbency at the shooting guard slot should allow Austin to hone his craft at the point, something Williams wouldn’t mind. Miller is a solid small forward and a Kentucky teammate of Davis’. Familiarity is always a plus.

Grade: A

Anthony Davis (1): The ultimate no-brainer. Davis could be a franchise player and will certainly become a dominant force on the defensive end. He's also far more skilled on the offensive end than many realize. The Hornets get a potential superstar and face/cornerstone of their franchise.
Austin Rivers (10): The Hornets already have Eric Gordon, but Rivers gives them more scoring punch. He's got no shortage of confidence and can get to the basket and finish.
Darius Miller (46): Kentucky's sixth and final selection of the night fell to the middle of the second round, but he can be a quality role guy due to his ability to make shots and also defend.

Grade: A-plus.

Not sure the Hornets could have scripted a better draft. They got the three guys they wanted and all three fit how the Hornets want to play. Davis is a can’t miss stud. Rivers could excel in the Hornets’ system and Miller is a nice talent that fits as well. The Hornets grabbed great talent, addressed tons of needs and are a much better team because of it. Hard not to grade them very high.

Grade: A-plus.

It was a no-brainer but they are still the night’s big winner. Taking Anthony Davis gives them the franchise player they need to build around. Austin Rivers is more of a gamble, I’m not convinced he’s the point guard you put next to Eric Gordon, but they could form nice backcourt for the future.

Grade: A

Whenever a team has a chance to draft a talent like Anthony Davis #1 overall that automatically makes it a good draft. On top of that, the Hornets were able to get a couple of very good players with their other picks, making this draft one of the best in the NBA. There isn’t much left to be said about Anthony Davis. Simply, he’s a franchise cornerstone and an immediate impact player. The real interesting part of this draft is the Hornets taking Duke guard Austin Rivers at #10, in hopes of making him a point guard. Head Coach Monty Williams really thinks that Rivers and Eric Gordon, assuming he re-signs, can work in the backcourt together. Both players are ball dominant guards and neither has too much experience setting up others on a consistent basis which means it’ll make up an intriguing backcourt combination. In the 2nd round, the Hornets drafted Davis’ Kentucky teammate, Darius Miller. Miller will play a similar role in the NBA as he did at Kentucky: do the dirty work, knock down open shots and play good defense.

Grade: A-plus.

Davis will clearly be a star and then superstar for years to come. We might fret that he needs to play alongside an offensive-minded center at times, someone to hold while Davis flies in from the weak side, but that's about the only limitation I can see right now. Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan did just fine with Rasho Nesterovic, despite the protestations of those who weren't paying attention. Rivers is an odd fit in New Orleans next to Eric Gordon, but that's not the point right now. Rivers was a college freshman, and he's a ways away from needing to be a good fit next to Gordon, who might not even be on the Hornets next season. You take the best player you're comfortable with, regardless of position, and move from there. And the Hornets did a fantastic job. They now have the enviable task of combining the talents of two scoring guards that can dish. Also, they drafted perhaps the two most famous participants in Thursday evening's proceedings. This will help, at the gate. Darius Miller is a shooter with a chance to make the team.