With the draft a few days away, word is out that the Hornets may be amenable to trading Chris Paul this summer. Will this have any effect on the Hornets’ draft plans. Let’s take a look at the possibilities:
Returning Players- Chris Paul (PG); Darren Collison (PG); Predrag Stojakovic (SF); Emeka Okafor (C); David West (PF); Morris Peterson (SG); James Posey (SF); Darius Songalia (PF – Player Option); Julian Wright (SF); Marcus Thorton (SG)
Team Payroll (10 Players) – $73,023,358
Estimated Salary Cap – $56,000,000
Team Needs- Perimeter shooting; Frontcourt help; Bench scorers
Position Needs – SG; SF; C
Picks – 1st Round (#11)
Analysis- Chris Paul’s injury put a damper on the season, but the silver lining came in the forms of Darren Collison and Marcus Thorton, 2 rookies who showed that they could be an effective one-two tandem in the NBA. Now with Paul back and the backcourt pretty much set, the Hornets need to do something to improve their frontcourt and give some help to David West. The swap for Emeka Okafor hasn’t seemed to work as they would have liked, so look for the Hornets to target one of the many quality big men available in the Lottery. Possibly their best option would be to fortify the Center position with Cole Aldrich, a traditional center who can provide both scoring and solid rebounding and defense. The other possibilities at the #11 spot include Ed Davis or Ekpe Udoh, both natural power forwards who can defend the center position. Both of these players will immediately upgrade the defense over the declining Okafor.
If the Hornets believe they can address the big man need in free agency, then they may look to bolster the small forward position. There are 3 great options in the Lottery, at least one who should be available at #11 – Luke Babbitt, Gordon Hayward, or Paul George. All three bring unique looks to the position and can be an improvement over the aging Stojakovic. If I was to guess an order of preference/fit it would be Babbitt, George, Hayward.
Word has come out recently that the Hornets are possibly shopping Chris Paul. If this is true, Collison is more than capable of handling the team and it shouldn’t affect the draft possibilities.