The New Orleans Hornets have a lot of things going for them, but they still have some areas that need to be addressed before they can become a playoff threat. The team has a nice, young core and adding a couple of pieces at the trade deadline could help them in the long run.
The Hornets have had a solid January, going 8-6 after entering the month at 7-23. This recent stretch includes wins over perennial playoff teams such as Boston, Dallas, San Antonio and Memphis. The return of guard Eric Gordon as well as the improved play of forward Al-Farouq Aminu are largely the cause of New Orleans' turnaround.
Even with the notable improvement, the Hornets are going to need some big breaks to make the playoffs. As of Jan. 28, New Orleans is 8.5 games behind Houston for the Western Conference's eighth seed.
The focus should turn to next season, where the team is likely to have another lottery pick and significantly fewer needs than they had at this time last season.
There's no need to blow up the roster and turn into a seller's market. With guys like Gordon, Ryan Anderson and Anthony Davis in place, the team has a nice trio to build around. They also don't have much trade bait to dangle in a potential deal, either.
That's why the deals New Orleans must make at the deadline should be relatively small. They could take advantage of Aminu's hot streak and expiring contract and try to lure a team into a trade. They could also try to sell a team on the potential of disappointing rookie Austin Rivers.
Despite their 15-29 record, the Hornets don't need much. As one of the youngest groups in the league, New Orleans will improve simply from gaining experience and growing as a team. That being said, it wouldn't be a bad idea to address some needs at this season's deadline.