After the news that the New Orleans Hornets are poised to acquire Orlando Forward Ryan Anderson, Dustin takes a look at the team’s move from doormat to possible playoff team in just a few months.
It’s as if the story of the New Orleans Hornets has already been figured out, a Hollywood screenplay turned out by a starving young man looking to cash in on inspirational sports movies.
Many declared the organization all but dead one year ago when NBA commissioner David Stern and the rest of the league owned the team and vetoed a trade that would’ve sent disgruntled PG Chris Paul to the Los Angeles Lakers for a bevy of talented players including Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom. Stern argued that the trade wasn’t good for the Hornets, while many speculated that he just didn’t want to do anything to potentially hurt the teams’ value as the NBA were looking to sell the team.
Paul was then traded to the Clippers days later for a package lacking the star power that the Lakers trade had, but netting the Hornets players like Eric Gordon and Chris Kaman, to provide hope for the post CP3 era.
What happened next still has some crying foul, but it’s hard to argue that a city like New Orleans and a team like the Hornets didn’t deserve to have something go right following Paul’s exit and the negative headlines the vetoed trade had created.
Tom Benson, owner of the beloved New Orleans Saints, purchased the Hornets from the NBA in April 2011 for a measly $338 million. Less than one month later the Hornets, who had a 13% chance of landing the number one pick, won the draft lottery which ensured them as the landing spot for Kentucky F Anthony “The Brow” Davis, who is widely considered a sure-fire superstar. They were also able to land G Austin Rivers, son of Celtics coach Doc, who was one of the top three guards in the draft and is praised for his ability to score seemingly at will.
Suddenly, the Hornets had a motivated owner, a star big man to build around, a young shooting guard who can produce offense the team drastically needs and they’re also expected to re-sign Eric Gordon, who is a restricted free agent this offseason.
This would be enough for any producer in Hollywood to throw his hands up in the air in glee at the thought of the money this movie would make.
But it doesn’t stop there.
Today it was announced that the Hornets will be acquiring a player from the Orlando Magic, no, not that guy, but a talented big man nonetheless. The Hornets are expected to trade C Gustavo Ayon (Who?) to the Magic in exchange for Ryan Anderson. Anderson is a 6’10 F who can battle inside the paint as well as hit perimeter shots. Last season he averaged 16 points and almost 8 rebounds a game and for his career, he shoots 38% from three-point range.
So now, not only will the Hornets have a backcourt of speed and athleticism with Rivers and Gordon working alongside PGs Jarret Jack and Greivis Vasquez, who both showed potential last season, but also a front court of Davis and Anderson. This opens up a world of possibilities given Anderson’s range, the team can consistently spread the floor and either pound the paint with Davis and Anderson’s agility for their size, or they can use their newfound size as a way to draw in the defense before kicking it out to one of their seemingly endless supply of shooters.
It’s pretty hard to sit here and say that the Hornets are going to be a playoff team, especially after their struggles last season and the competitive teams in the Western Conference, but they’re definitely going to be interesting to watch. It’s fully possible that they can pass the Jazz and sneak into the playoffs as an 8-seed, maybe even 7 if the Mavericks struggle, but that’s not the point right now.
There’s nothing more satisfying in sports then seeing a team reverse their fortunes and become successful again (unless you’re the Charlotte Bobcats, in which case this is appropriate,) so maybe this talent can translate to success on the court and the Hornets can find themselves with riches after so many years in rags.
Dustin Brewer is a writer/co-editor-in-chief for hefferbrew.wordpress.com/hefferbrew.tumblr.com. He’s a little skeptical at how all the finances will work if they’re able to bring back Eric Gordon, but he’s afraid of the NBA so….Go Hornets!