The New Faces of the New Orleans Hornets

New Faces of the Hornets

August 13, 2012

For the second time in the past three summers, New Orleans Hornets general manager Dell Demps has overseen a significant overhaul of the team’s roster. Over the past 45 days, the club has added seven new faces. Many of those seven players – perhaps all of them – will make an impact when New Orleans officially opens the 2012-13 campaign on Halloween by hosting San Antonio.

Still trying to familiarize yourself with the team’s new acquisitions? Here’s a handy player-by-player guide, in reverse chronological order of their arrivals to the Crescent City:

Roger MasonROGER MASON
How he was acquired: Aug. 4 free-agent contract.
Hornets uniform number: 8

Role he’s played: Over an eight-year NBA career with five different teams, Mason has been relied upon to provide perimeter shooting, primarily off the bench. He’s started 88 of his 424 career games, with 71 of those starts coming in 2008-09 with San Antonio. According to the Basketball Reference website, Mason is tied for 39th among all active NBA players in career three-point percentage (38.1), just ahead of the likes of Jason Terry, Michael Redd and Dirk Nowitzki.

Quote to note: “I’m excited. They told me from the start that they wanted me. They stayed in touch. They have a clear role for me, as far as me not just being a veteran leader, but a guy that can contribute on the court. I just love the direction the franchise is going. So I’m looking forward to heading down there.” – Roger Mason to the Washington Post, on signing with New Orleans




ROBIN LOPEZ
How he was acquired: July 27 trade with Phoenix.
Hornets uniform number: 15

Role he’s played: In four seasons with the Suns, Lopez had been shuffled between starter and backup, filling the latter role for all of 2011-12 behind Marcin Gortat. The twin brother of Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez, Robin is a shot-blocker on defense and an efficient finisher around the rim on offense. He’s shot over 50 percent from the field in three of his four pro seasons, for a career figure of 51.7. At 7-0, he and Jason Smith are New Orleans’ two tallest players.

Quote to note: “First, he brings a defensive presence. We’ve hung our hat on our defense since we’ve been here. His size and athleticism we think will really anchor our defense. We look forward to watching him compete. He’s thrilled to be here and looking forward to being part of our future.” – Dell Demps on Lopez




Hakim WarrickHAKIM WARRICK
How he was acquired: July 27 trade with Phoenix.
Hornets uniform number: 1

Role he’s played: His playing time has fluctuated from season to season over his seven years in the NBA, but the 6-foot-9 Warrick’s best attribute is his scoring versatility. Possessing the athleticism of a smaller man and mid-range shooting ability, he averaged double-figure scoring three consecutive seasons with Memphis from 2006-09. His most natural position is power forward, but small forward may be his best opportunity to play in NOLA. “It’s something we’ll have to figure out when we get to training camp,” Dell Demps assessed of what role and position Warrick will play in ’12-13.

Quote to note: “He’s a veteran who will add to our frontcourt depth. He has the ability to score, with his athleticism and quickness. We look forward to watching him play this year.” – Dell Demps on Warrick




RYAN ANDERSON
How he was acquired: July 11 trade with Orlando.
Hornets uniform number: 33

Role he’s played: The NBA’s Most Improved Player in 2011-12, Anderson has made impressive leaps in production for two straight years, bumping his scoring average from 7.7 to 10.6 to 16.1. He’s also one of the NBA’s most underrated rebounders. The long-distance marksman led the league in three-point makes last season, connecting on 166 treys. His perimeter shooting could be an ideal complement to Anthony Davis’ interior presence, but training camp may be when Anderson’s exact role in terms of position begins to crystallize. Orlando used him primarily as a power forward, the position in which he’s most comfortable defensively.

Quote to note: “For years, I’ve been just labeled as a perimeter shooter. Not to take anything away from it – last year was the first year I had a consistent role, being a starting power forward – (but) I know I can play multiple positions. I feel like my confidence (is high) that I can definitely get back in the (low) post. In college, that was my bread-and-butter. I was predominantly a post player. I know that there is strong player development here. I’m ready to get in and start working.” – Ryan Anderson on expanding his offensive game with New Orleans




ANTHONY DAVIS
How he was acquired: June 28, No. 1 overall pick in NBA draft
Hornets uniform number: 23

Role he’s played: In his one collegiate season at Kentucky, the 6-foot-10 Davis emerged as a once-in-a-generation force at the defensive end, shattering Shaquille O’Neal’s SEC single-season shot-blocking record. His 7-6 wingspan, timing and athleticism led to him averaging 4.7 rejections per game. En route to winning a national title, the ultra-talented Wildcats were able to play aggressively on defense, knowing that Davis was there to help cover up mistakes. Offensively, Davis averaged 14.2 points, but would’ve scored more on any other NCAA team and shot an ultra-efficient 62.3 percent from the field.

Quote to note: “Davis will put up defensive stats immediately, but his offensive game is still a work in progress. He’ll likely score more as the season goes on and finish in the low double-digits. His long-term ceiling is insane, because he has guard-like skills and quickness in a freakish body with room for growth, but this year, his statistical impact will primarily be limited to the defensive end. He should average at least eight boards and two blocks per game, a feat only three players achieved last season.” – ESPN.com on Davis’ possible rookie impact




AUSTIN RIVERS
How he was acquired: June 28, No. 10 overall pick in NBA draft
Hornets uniform number: 25

Role he’s played: In his one collegiate season at Duke, Rivers was the Blue Devils’ go-to guy on offense, establishing himself as one of the nation’s most talented individual scorers. He sank a three-pointer at the buzzer on Feb. 8 at North Carolina to beat the rival Tar Heels, perhaps the most memorable play of the 2011-12 college season. Rivers played almost exclusively at shooting guard in high school and college, but the Hornets began giving him experience at point guard during summer league. Rivers said he will be ready to play both spots when training camp opens in October.

Quote to note: “He will contribute 3s off the bench immediately with his 25-foot range, but won't immediately provide overall stats. As he learns to run a team from the point, develops his left hand, and improves his ability to finish in traffic, he has a nice long-term future in the league. However, don't expect much more than 3s yet, unless he somehow carves out a starting role.” – ESPN.com on Rivers’ possible rookie impact




DARIUS MILLER
How he was acquired: June 28, No. 46 overall pick in NBA draft
Hornets uniform number: TBA

Role he’s played: Miller was the ultimate glue guy for Kentucky in its run to the 2012 NCAA championship, coming off the bench in 29 of his 40 appearances. Despite his reserve role, the Wildcats counted on Miller to make big shots and provide leadership for a youthful squad that had four underclassmen drafted in the NBA’s first round in June. The Hornets are hopeful that the sturdy, 6-foot-7 Miller will emerge as an excellent defender at small forward in the NBA. He was tested in summer league, but appeared to be hampered by a hamstring injury that is not expected to affect him going forward.

Quote to note: “We were very fortunate. I know there were teams who had him on their board in the first round. He’s a selfless player, very tough, with a maturity that you generally don’t see in college players. He was the glue guy for the best team in college basketball. He was a big-shot maker, loves the moment, and has great positional size. He can play a couple positions and is versatile.” – Hornets assistant GM Tim Connelly on Miller