Predicting How Long It Takes Hornets to Reach Playoffs with Anthony Davis

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Predicting How Long It Takes Hornets to Reach Playoffs with Anthony Davis
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The word "lottery" is somewhat misleading when it comes to the NBA draft.

Saying a team won the lottery implies that all of their wishes will be granted and all their dreams will be realized.

But in the NBA, nothing is guaranteed, not even windfall from a lottery pick.

The No. 1 overall pick tends to be—historically speaking—a safe bet.

Sure, there are myriad busts that are scattered across the history of the game. There have been the occasional Kwame Browns, Michael Olowokandis and Greg Odens.

But generally speaking, these players tend to be very good players.

They don't always, however, lead to immediate good fortune for their respective teams.

 

There is no silver bullet

Teams that draft No. 1 overall generally are not very good.

Obviously, or else they probably wouldn't be in the lottery.

As a result, it usually takes more than just one stud player to turn around the fortunes of a team.

The obvious exceptions are Tim Duncan, Shaquille O'Neal and a few others.

In those cases, a transcendent talent joined a team that already had some talent, and the squad was back in contention within a couple years.

Let's take a look at the last 15 No. 1 overall picks and see how long it took them to turn around their fledgling franchises.

 

A mixed bag

Over the last 15 years, it has taken a team a long time to reach the playoffs after selecting the first overall pick.

Obviously, the two most recent picks, Kyrie Irving and John Wall, have not yet gotten their teams into the playoffs, so it is hard to get them into this mix.

But it has taken teams that have selected the first overall pick an average of just over two years to reach the playoffs after making their selection.

Some of these numbers are skewed, based on extenuating circumstances.

For instance, Elton Brand was dealt after his second year in Chicago, and the Bulls ended up taking about six years to get to the playoffs, four of which were without Brand.

In the earlier years of this group, it generally took awhile, with Duncan's Spurs being the big exception.

San Antonio reached the playoffs immediately, and was even a contender. In fact, the team won it all in Duncan's second year in the league. 

But of course, that team still had a very good David Robinson.

But Olowokandi, Brown and Brand were not so lucky. It took them an average of five years to reach the playoffs. 

As we look at these data more closely, it appears that those teams, oddly enough, were the exception, not the rule.

Kenyon Martin, Yao Ming, LeBron James, Dwight Howard, Andrea Bargnani, Andrew Bogut, Greg Oden, Derrick Rose and Blake Griffin all saw their teams take an average of just over a year to reach the playoffs.

So, if we look at the immediate past, it would seem that New Orleans should expect to reach the playoffs within three years of selecting the first pick.

 

Lots of variables

This is far from a scientific study. These findings are purely a work of correlation, not causation.

Most of the above players were joining teams that were far from devoid of talent.

Part of what helps a player turn around a franchise is a combination of NBA readiness and current talent on the roster.

Kenyon Martin was able to get into the playoffs quickly because he had a future Hall of Famer Jason Kidd running the point.

Oden landed on a team that was just coming into its own, and they did most of the heavy lifting without him.

It's hard to know what type of situation Davis will be getting into.

The Hornets' best player, Eric Gordon, is a restricted free agent, but there is no guarantee he remains with the club. 

They have some decent supporting players, but no real team identity.

They also have another lottery pick, No. 10 overall, that should also help speed this process along.

 

Prediction

I really think that Davis will have an immediate impact on this team.

Defense is one of the few truly contagious basketball traits, and Davis will be an elite defender immediately.

If Gordon returns and the Hornets are able to land a point guard in the draft or via free agency, there is no reason to think that it won't take them three years, or slightly less, to make the playoffs. 

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