The 2012 NBA Draft Lottery is over and it has left the New Orleans Hornets with the top pick, which they will almost certainly use to select Anthony Davis. The star Kentucky power forward is the Hornets' new franchise player and will pair with Eric Gordon to create a strong new foundation for NBA basketball in New Orleans.
Winning the rights to select Davis is a huge win for a Hornets franchise that has gone through a very difficult transitional year. After annually making the playoffs behind all-NBA point guard Chris Paul, New Orleans reluctantly dealt their disgruntled former franchise player to the Los Angeles Clippers for star shooting guard Eric Gordon, young small forward Al-Farouq Aminu, and a first round draft pick.
The result was a lackluster 21-45 season that most New Orleans fans undoubtedly want to forget. But Hornets fans will now get to unwrap their presents: Davis and another future starter with the 10th pick in the 2012 draft.
Davis is a very special prospect who could reshape the Hornets' future. He is already an all-defense level player with incredible shot-blocking and rebounding ability. He still needs to add bulk to his frame but, when he fills out, he will have the size to bang with any NBA player in the post. He is still raw offensively, but showed himself to be a quick study at Kentucky and should soon develop a solid low post game.
Most importantly, Davis has franchise player intangibles. He wants to be the leader of the team but at Kentucky he showed that he can lead very unselfishly, much like Tim Duncan. Leading up to the NCAA Championship, Davis often let other Kentucky players grab the spotlight, but was the one constant force on the path to glory, grabbing every clutch rebound, blocking tons of shots, and shutting down the opponent's best post player.
Overall, Davis already resembles former Hornets star Tyson Chandler on defense and, if he becomes a strong offensive player, has the upside of a Kevin Garnett or Tim Duncan. In short: the sky is the limit.
Next season, the Hornets will get a year to see how their new foundation pieces play together and grow. Gordon, a free agent after next season, could still be dealt if he does not want to resign, but Davis' arrival just made New Orleans a much more attractive long-term home. For a penetrating shooting guard like Gordon, nothing is more important than having a super-talented big man drawing attention down low.
If Gordon stays, then next season may not be great, but the future looks very bright. A core of a healthy Gordon, Davis, the 2012 10th overall pick (perhaps Weber State point guard Damien Lilliard), Aminu, and another lottery pick in 2013 will bring a new era of successful basketball to New Orleans.