Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Instant Trade Analysis: Anthony Davis to the New Orleans Hornets

David Stern gets: Tom Benson to buy the New Orleans Hornets from the NBA

New Orleans Hornets get: PF Anthony Davis via the number one pick in the 2012 NBA Draft

That wasn't a joke, but not in the way you think.

I'm not a conspiracy theorist. I don't believe that Jordan was suspended in 1993 for gambling, nor do I believe that Patrick Ewing was snuck under the table to the New York Knicks in 1985. And I don't think that the formerly NBA-owned New Orleans Hornets were gifted the number one pick through nefarious means as a sort of incentive for the NFL Saints' owner Tom Benson buying the team.

However, when David Stern named "basketball reasons" as the main logic behind vetoing the Chris Paul to the Lakers trade, he was directly referring to this possible outcome. What the Commish wanted wasn't for a team filled with crafty vets like Kevin Martin, Luis Scola, Lamar Odom and Emeka Okafor to make the playoffs as an easy first-round out, leaving them with middling draft prospects, little salary cap room and no young players. Stern wanted the team to be left without cap-clogging contracts (like that of Martin and Scola) and a high draft pick, so that the new owner could re-make the Hornets in whatever vision he saw fit. Although he couldn't have projected that New Orleans would be bestowed with such fortune as the number one overall pick, he certainly knew exactly what he was doing when he changed the course of the 2011-2012 NBA season mid-December.

Anthony Davis isn't just a great power forward with a lot of tools - he's a potential franchise-changing big man. "The Brow", an unfortunate nickname bestowed upon him in honor of the "unique" haircut directly above his eyes, legendarily grew 8 inches between his freshman and junior years in high school. As a 6'4" sophomore, Davis learned how to play the game as a guard rather than a big. Thus, as you've seen his entire year at Kentucky, Davis has one of the most complete packages available in any prospect this side of LeBron James.

Still a teenager, Davis is already a defensive difference maker. He led the nation in blocks, and he looks like an elite rebounder. He has a fantastic motor, rarely quits on plays, and most of all, seems to relish defending. Offensively he's still a bit raw, but has shown the propensity to put the ball on the floor much like a guard, as mentioned above. However, with great hands and a seemingly high basketball IQ, the biggest knock on Davis is that he needs to put on weight an muscle. If this entire description of him seems a bit cliche, it's because in his frenshman season at Kentucky, the Brow has shown scouts everything they've wanted to see out of someone who could be an NBA superstar.

For the Hornets, this is a complete game-changer for the future of the franchise. The team currently has a bunch of building blocks in Eric Gordon, Emeka Okafor, Al-Farouq Aminu, Greivis Vasquez and Gustavo Ayon, but no one that anyone would project to break out and lead the Hornets to anything better than the late lottery. Davis surely won't make the team an overnight contender, but he certainly could help elevate them to fringe playoff contention, much like Derrick Rose, LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony in their first years. He's coach Monty Williams' dream prospect - a defensive-minded star who will commit himself fully to doing anything to win.

New Orleans needed this, not just to resucitate their franchise, but also to validate one of David Stern's most controversial decisions. Crap.

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