I realized today that my recent work has largely focused on critiquing particular players, and as the Hornets aren’t very good right now, it hasn’t painted a beautiful picture. Truthfully, I am very excited for the future of New Orleans basketball. Benson has been a gift of an owner for a franchise that had to endure years of George Shinn’s financial struggles. Here are some of the reasons that you should be thrilled to be a budding Pelicans fan.
1. Anthony Davis is going to be a special, special player, and despite his great rookie season, he has managed to stay out of the spotlight. He is learning to use his quickness and athleticism to compensate for his lack of size, and he’s only going to get stronger. Although he doesn’t possess the explosive athleticism of Dwight Howard or Blake Griffin, his skill level and basketball intelligence are light years ahead of what those guys had at his age. Big men tend to adjust less quickly to the NBA game than guards, but Davis is already impacting the game in transition, off of the ball (on both ends of the floor), and also in the pick and roll/pop game. His jump shot has good form and he has an excellent touch near the rim. He knows how to maneuver the baseline and make himself available to the guards. He has great hands and catches everything thrown his way. He has remarkable potential and will be working closely with Monty Williams over the summer to improve his game.
2. Dell Demps has shown his merit. It is pivotal for general managers of small teams to have the ability to pluck cheap talent from other places. Stars and big-time scorers require cumbersome contracts, which leaves little financial room to fill gaps. Great GMs like Oklahoma’s Sam Presti and San Antonio’s RC Buford have found creative ways to surround their stars with valuable role players without breaking the bank. Dell acquired Ryan Anderson for a very reasonable price last summer, found an adequate backup guard overseas (Brian Roberts), drafted Darius Miller (who should serve as a very good backup for years to come), and did all of this without giving up anything valuable. The Gordon contract seems questionable at the moment, but it should be moved this offseason, so I will reserve judgment until then. Dell also unloaded Trevor Ariza and Emeka Okafor’s huge contracts for a year of Rashard Lewis’s expiring contract.
3. The Pelicans have financial flexibility. This is of utmost importance. The Pelicans only have 33 million in guaranteed contracts on the books for next year, which affords Dell the ability to sign key pieces in free agency or the space to swing a big trade. Teams desperate to make a splash often tie themselves down by overpaying players, thereby restricting their ability to improve later. The Pelicans are overpaying Gordon, but have tons of room to improve and solid players on cheap contracts.
4. The Pelicans will be building a state-of-the-art practice facility that will house both the Saints and the Hornets. This is something that will be unique to New Orleans sports and can sway potential free agents. The facilities are going to be THE BOMB.
5. Dell Demps and Monty Williams have hinted at an active offseason numerous times. Whether it’s by trading, signing a marquee free agent, or drafting a high-caliber rookie, change is coming. Williams said that opposing players have been coming up to him this season and telling him to remember them this summer in free agency. The team is certainly not stacked now, but opponents know that a good core is in place. This is a young team with plenty of room for improvement within and the means to bring in impact players.
*Photo Credit: Jan Ševčík
Categories: Hornets Buzz/The Bird's Word