NBA Pre-Draft Analysis: New Orleans Hornets

Jeremy SmithContributor IJune 20, 2010

NEW ORLEANS - MARCH 31:  Chris Paul #3 of the New Orleans Hornets talks with his team during a timeout against the Washington Wizards at New Orleans Arena on March 31, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  The Wizards defeated the Hornets 96-91.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

It is time for Hornets fans to put away all the frustrations that accompanied a disappointing, injury-riddled season. The 11th overall pick could be the latest in a log line of positives to come out of CP3's abbreviated campaign. 

Chris Paul's absence has already allowed the Hornets to identify Darren Collison and Marcus Thornton as valuable pieces of the puzzle moving forward. Now it has helped the franchise land a pretty high pick in a talent-laden draft. And it is one that could not have come for a better time for a Hornet team that is desperate for size as this draft has plenty of that. 

Projections abound as names like Daniel Orton and Hassan Whiteside are being thrown around. Some even believe New Orleans will take Patrick Patterson. But Orton and Whiteside are projects at best and Patterson plays the same position as all-star power forward David West. That leads me to believe that it will be NBA-ready center Cole Aldrich that becomes the 11th player off the board.

If the rest of my projections are accurate and Luke Babbitt slips this far, New Orleans will probably take some time to study him as a potential replacement for Peja Stojakovic, who is likely entering his last year as a Hornet. But if they intend on competing in the Western Conference this season, the Hornets must have depth in the front court. That is something Aldrich will provide admirably.

He is not overly athletic, but he is a tough, heady player that is a strong rebounder. He will also provide a shot-blocking presence off the bench for the Hornets. Some liken him to Joel Pryzbilla. While that is not a glamorous comparison, it would certainly be a nice addition for New Orleans, who will need as much length as possible to contend with the perennial powers in the West.