New Orleans Hornets 2012-13 Season Preview
Playoffs: Did not qualify
Draft picks: Anthony Davis, Austin Rivers, Darius Miller
Signings/trades: Ryan Anderson, Robin Lopez, Hakim Warrick, Roger Mason, Chris Wright, Solomon Alabi
Emeka Okafor, Chris Kaman, Trevor Ariza, Marco Belinelli, Gustavo Ayon, Jerome Dyson
Projected starting lineup
C - Robin Lopez
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
PF - Ryan Anderson
SF - Anthony Davis
SG - Eric Gordon
PG - Greivis Vasquez
What to expect
The New Orleans Hornets lucked out in the 2012 NBA Draft lottery, earning the No. 1 overall selection and the chance to select Davis. He is expected to be the centerpiece of the rebuilding process for the Hornets. Perhaps what is even more important though is that they were able to keep Gordon by matching the Phoenix Suns' offer sheet for him.
There is clearly some talent on this team. Not only did New Orleans get Davis, but it also drafted Austin Rivers and traded for Anderson, the reigning Most Improved Player of the Year.
I am not too high on Rivers as an NBA prospect and I think Anderson benefited greatly from Dwight Howard's presence with the Orlando Magic (just look and see how much Anderson's numbers dipped without Howard in the 2012 playoffs), but there is reason for optimism if you're a Hornets fan.
It's pretty evident that New Orleans is not going to be all that good this year. That said, it should be entertaining watching the team's young players develop.
That said, everyone seems to be so high on Davis, but I am not sold on him. I can certainly see the potential, but I think there are plenty of question marks surrounding the kid, one being his obvious lack of size.
People will then bring up the fact that Kevin Garnett was basically a string bean when he came into the league, but come on; Kevin Garnett is Kevin Garnett. You really cannot put those expectations on any rookie.
Regardless, Davis will have a huge opportunity to prove me wrong this season, as he should get a solid amount of touches on a team that does not have many options offensively.
The biggest thing to keep an eye on: Gordon's right knee. He had it surgically repaired last season, and he is already experiencing soreness in it. The 23-year-old could be one of the most dynamic scorers in the league if he stays healthy, so hopefully, that knee gets better.
Key player: Davis
This one is fairly obvious. Davis was the No. 1 pick in the draft and New Orleans is putting a lot of its hopes into him, so it's important that he come out and validate his worth early. He doesn't have to average 20 and 10 in his rookie year; he just needs to show that the Hornets did make the right move in taking him first overall.
There will definitely be some growing pains with Davis. It will just be intriguing to see how much he progresses as the season goes on.
Sleeper: Al-Farouq Aminu
The Los Angeles Clippers took Aminu eighth overall in the 2010 draft (he was then traded to the Hornets in the Chris Paul deal), but the former Wake Forest standout has shown very little to merit his selection thus far.
Aminu averaged six points and just over four rebounds per game last season, and it's not like he was competing with a lot of other players to put up numbers. It was encouraging, though, that his scoring output increased with each month, going from 5.4 points per game in January to 8.7 in April. He also averaged 6.3 rebounds a night during that final month, so maybe he is slowly turning the corner.
There is absolutely no denying that this kid has talent. He is an athletic freak with versatility on both ends of the floor, and he has the tools to be a lockdown defender.
This could be the year Aminu finally breaks out.
Playoffs: Will not qualify
This is essentially a lost year for New Orleans in terms of trying to contend for a playoff spot, but the good news is that the club will probably be bad enough to have a chance at yet another No. 1 pick in the draft.
If Gordon's knee holds up and Davis develops into what many expect him to be, the Hornets may end up being a very nice team in a couple of years. Still, they have a long way to go.
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