5. New Orleans Hornets
As mentioned earlier, the New Orleans Hornets certainly enjoyed a charmed off-season. Rarely, do you get the chance to acquire one potentially franchise-altering player, let alone two. While they have what is considered the closest thing to as sure of a thing in rookie (first overall pick of the 2012-13 NBA Draft) PF/C Anthony Davis, let us not forget how talented and skilled Austin Rivers could end up being. Rivers will have to overcome physical uncertainties vs. the larger/stronger guards, but can work toward strengthening and adjusting to the NBA style. The question is, if healthy, does he pan out to be in the mold of an offensively gifted but limited player such as OJ Mayo, or does he excel to the height of a pre-knee injury Brandon Roy?
In Ant Davis, no such wondering/worrying will be the case. I hate drawing premature comparisons, but I would be remiss to not mention Davis’ incredible similarity to a young Tim Duncan, potentially with a hybrid mix of Kevin Garnett’s young athleticism. Point is, Davis (unibrow and all) is my selection for the NBA’s next big thing. I will openly acknowledge I expect him to win Rookie of the Year. In my humble opinion, Davis possesses those rare intangibles, skill set, and mindset to be a true impact player in this league for years to come.
Free agent pick up Ryan Anderson has improved in scoring and efficiency each of the last four preseason games, and looks to be settling into his new leadership role with this young roster. If he and a healthy Eric Gordon can lead the way, I think the rookie additions will catch their strides sometime around January. While I could see them threatening with a second-half playoff push, I don’t think they’ll have quite enough to make it this year. Be alert and very much aware of their progress over the next couple seasons.
Key Additions: Anthony Davis, Austin Rivers, Ryan Anderson, Robin Lopez, Hakeem Warrick
Key Departures: Trevor Ariza, Emeka Okafor, Brad Miller