The New Orleans Hornets are going through the definition of a rebuilding season this year, and through that process we could see a completely different roster a year from now.
The Hornets are a very young team. They actually have a good group of talent already on the roster. The organization should be able to build around key pieces such as Eric Gordon, Emeka Okafor and Jarret Jack.
However, Head Coach Monty Williams has said that no one on the Hornets is safe as of right now. The rest of this shortened season will be used to determine who can return to the Hornets next season. Every player that is currently on the roster better believe that they still have something to play for this year.
Williams has officially become more of a scout for this season. He will be building the team he wants for next year. The players in New Orleans are officially on the hot seat, and they could be playing for their spot on the Hornets' team for the rest of the year.
The three players the Hornets will more than likely choose to build around are Gordon, Okafor and Jack.
Gordon has the potential to be an NBA superstar for years to come. He has been riddled with injuries since joining the Hornets in December, but everyone knows what he can do when he is on the court.
Gordon's situation in New Orleans is a bit sticky at the moment. He and the Hornets were trying to get a deal done before last week's deadline, but agreed to put it off until after the season. The ideal situation would be for the Hornets to bring him back and build around him for the next decade or so.
If that happens, then New Orleans lineup next year would surely include Gordon at the shooting guard spot.
The Hornets also seem to have a solid starter at point guard in Jack. He is among the top leaders in assists this year and is averaging over 16 points a game. In fact, this season has been the best so far in his career.
If Jack can keep up this kind of play, then it is very likely we could see him starting at point guard for the Hornets next year. At the very least, we can expect to see Jack playing off of the bench in New Orleans in 2013.
New Orleans also has a very solid center in Okafor. The Hornets will likely do their best to trade away the other center on the roster—Chris Kaman. That will make Okafor nearly indispensable. Okafor has played well this season for the Hornets, averaging 10 points and eight rebounds per game.
Gordon, Jack and Okafor seem to be the best players for the organization to build around for next year. The Hornets have some talent in the other positions as well.
They currently have Carl Landry and Jason smith at power forward with DaJuan Summers, Trevor Ariza and Al-Farouq Aminu at the small forward spot.
The Hornets are taking a strong look at Landry, Smith and Summers. Any of these three players could be gone after the offseason, but I would expect to see Landry back for sure.
Smith could challenge Landry as this season continues, but so far Landry has proven to be the more consistent power forward for the Hornets.
The small forward position seems to be wide open at this point. I would not be shocked if Summers leaves in the offseason. However, Ariza is still a productive weapon and plays solid defense. The Hornets may choose to keep Ariza or could use him as trade bait later down the road.
Aminu is a guy that the Hornets will likely keep because he shows potential. Also, he was part of the CP3 deal back in December.
The Hornets could definitely choose to target a small forward in the upcoming NBA draft to fill the current void on the team.
New Orleans has some good depth at the shooting guard spot. Guys like Marco Belinelli and Xavier Henry could be solid backups behind Gordon next year. However, the Hornets may find Belinelli a little too expensive to keep as a bench player and decide to go in a different direction.
I would expect to see Henry and Gordon back in New Orleans with the possibility of keeping Belinelli.
The only point guard that seems to have a guaranteed spot back in New Orleans next year is Jack. Greivis Vasquez and Carldell Johnson can easily be replaced next year.
Gustavo Ayon is currently the backup center and he is getting a lot of looks from Williams and the Hornets. He is ideally a power forward. The simple fact that the Hornets lack true depth at the center spot will likely mean that they will target that position at some point in the draft.
Ayon's spot in New Orleans is likely to be decided throughout the rest of the current season.
The starting lineup in New Orleans next year will definitely be different, but we could see a lot of the same faces.
I would expect to see Jack, Gordon and Okafor back and starting. We could see two new faces at the forward positions, but Landry, Ariza and Aminu will likely be back next year as well.
The Hornets should have solid depth next year and can look to draft some young talent with their two first-round picks in the draft. After another year or two, we could be looking at quite a talented roster in New Orleans.