NBA Draft 2012: Why the New Orleans Hornets Need to Lose Now

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NBA Draft 2012: Why the New Orleans Hornets Need to Lose Now
Harry How/Getty Images
The last time the New Orleans Hornets has the 2nd-worst record, they did pretty well on draft day.

The NBA Draft lottery will be held next month, and the New Orleans Hornets have every right to dream about landing top prospect Anthony Davis of the Kentucky Wildcats.

However, nothing is guaranteed in the draft, and even having the worst record overall has many times not resulted in the top overall pick.

With the Charlotte Bobcats no lock to win 10 games this year, the Hornets can only hope to secure the second-worst record and, thus, the second-best chance at claiming the No. 1 overall selection.

It is in the franchise's best interests to lose now to secure a brighter future.

A quick look at what teams with the third-worst record have turned their chances into shows why.  Since 2004, when the same Bobcats became the latest NBA expansion team and increased the lottery to 14 teams:

Year Team Pick No. Player Drafted
2004 Washington Wizards 5 Devin Harris
2005 Charlotte Bobcats 5 Raymond Felton
2006 Charlotte Bobcats 3 Adam Morrison
2007 Milwaukee Bucks 6 Yi Jianlian
2008 Minnesota Timberwolves 3 OJ Mayo
2009 LA Clippers 1 Blake Griffin
2010 Sacramento Kings 5 DeMarcus Cousins
2011 Toronto Raptors 5 Jonas Valanciunas
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

 

While the jury is still out on Valanciunas as he remains overseas, the other seven selections only produced two with game-changing talent: Blake Griffin and DeMarcus Cousins.

The lowest a team with the third-worst record can fall is sixth; the one time that happened, the Bucks ended up with Yi Jianlian.

More importantly, in five out of eight instances, the team with the third-worst record received a lower pick.

For the Hornets and their fans, this means that they must prepare for the strong possibility of falling out of the top three picks: the odds of that happening are slightly higher than the odds of receiving a top-three selection.

Currently, the Washington Wizards hold the second-worst record.  The Hornets got lucky on Monday, as the Wizards couldn't help but win when they faced the Bobcats.

The Hornets are now two games "behind" the Wizards.  Here is a look at how teams with the second-worst record have fared in the draft since 2004:

Year Team Pick No. Player Drafted
2004 Chicago Bulls 3 Ben Gordon
2005 New Orleans Hornets 4 Chris Paul
2006 Chicago Bulls 2 LaMarcus Aldridge
2007 Boston Celtics 5 Jeff Green
2008 Seattle Supersonics 4 Russell Westbrook
2009 Washington Wizards 5 Ricky Rubio
2010 Minnesota Timberwolves 4 Wesley Johnson
2011 Cleveland Cavaliers 1 Kyrie Irving
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

 

The second-worst team secured a top-four selection six out of the eight years, compared with only three times for the third-worst team.

This resulted in a number of star-quality players, with none other than former Hornet Chris Paul heading a list that includes LaMarcus Aldridge, Russell Westbrook and Kyrie Irving.

The 2012 NBA Draft boasts four top-line talents in Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Harrison Barnes and the Kansas Jayhawks' Thomas Robinson.  All would project as cornerstones in the franchise's future plans.

After them, things get a little murky.

Connecticut Huskies shooting guard Jeremy Lamb and power forward Andre Drummond appear in mock drafts after the first four. 

Lamb's skill set is too similar to current Hornets shooting guard Eric Gordon, and selecting Lamb might further convince Gordon to leave Louisiana.  The ideal situation would be drafting a marquee player and being able to resign Gordon to form a strong 1-2 punch.

Drummond oozes potential and has great size, but his work ethic and drive have been questioned.

With current Hornets starting point guard Jarrett Jack done for the season, the Hornets have been given the perfect excuse to end the season on an extended losing streak.

If they can overtake Washington in the process, a little losing in the short term might be a winning strategy for the future.

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