NBA / Dec 15, 2011 / 11:15 am

The New Orleans Hornets Are Now The Worst Team In The NBA

Eric Gordon

Eric Gordon (photo. Jeff Forney)

Congratulations David Stern. You’ve officially turned the New Orleans Hornets into the Little Giants, perhaps the one team in the league I might not watch all season. It is what is is though. The Hornets were already a disaster. Now your franchise is in L.A. because Stern was left to pick up the pieces. I was going to come in here and have someone argue with me over which deal was the better one – the Lakers nixed trade or this one – but let’s face it, you get a possible future All-Star, an athletic wing player, a huge expiring contract and an unprotected lottery pick; that’s a great haul for Chris Paul. But as John Schuhmann of NBA.com pointed out this morning, this trade will probably turn New Orleans into the worst team in the league.

Eric Gordon is an explosive scorer, but as I said on my top 10 shooting guards list, how much do we really know about him? He played 56 games last season, scoring big numbers as a somewhat forgotten wing player next to Blake Griffin. He had one of the worst rebounding rates of anyone playing big minutes, and doesn’t exactly create a ton of shots either. As a two guard playing 37 minutes a night, you should be able to finish with more than 4.4 assists a night playing next to Griffin and DeAndre Jordan (Paul might average that in every first quarter). Gordon is a scorer, and score he will in New Orleans. But to give you an idea of how he’ll handle being the No. 1 option – 55 percent of Gordon’s buckets were assisted last year (In comparison, Dwyane Wade was at 37 percent). Without players around him, expect a lot of turnovers and a lot of forced shots. But at least he’s always been very good at getting to the cup and drawing fouls.

Al-Farouq Aminu is a role player at best, and we don’t know what to expect out of Chris Kaman (will he even play there this year?).

The Hornets got the best deal they could for their future, but in the present, they’re going to be awful. If the fans weren’t already ignoring them, I’d say we might have the first NBA team getting WNBA attendance. The real key to this deal will come next summer.

As of right now, here are the five worst teams in the league, one through five:

1. New Orleans – talent-wise, they might be able to sneak out of the cellar, but with the season starting in 10 days and the Hornets still without a full roster, I can see them starting somewhere around 3-20.
2. Charlotte
3. Cleveland
4. Toronto
5. Sacramento

So let’s look at the draft. Amazingly, the unprotected first-rounder the Clippers gave up probably won’t be as good as the Hornets own pick. New Orleans should finish as one of the worst three teams in the league while Minnesota, certainly not a playoff contender but much improved, could finish with close to 30 wins. As Chris Webber told me earlier this week, Rick Adelman is one of the first guys you should call when you’re building a team (His words were: “He’s going to empower players to be as good as you want and he’s going to give you enough rope to hang yourself.”).

Adelman teaches playing without the ball so well that inevitably, he always fields great passing teams. And look at Minnesota’s roster. They have skill at almost every position: shooters, passers, ballhandlers.

The Hornets have no starting-caliber point guard (They don’t even have a backup). As of now, they have no power forward at all, and even if they re-sign Carl Landry (it sounds like they have), he’s such a pathetic rebounder that he’ll be totally outmanned playing 35 minutes a night. Gordon’s going to have to score 25 a night for New Orleans to stay afloat.

Talk about a massive conflict of interest… what happens next year, as John Hollinger has pointed out, if Stern still doesn’t have a buyer and the Hornets somehow end up with the top pick?

They could conceivably end up with the top two picks. Let’s be realistic and take a stab at the two lottery picks N’awlins will have. For an example, I’ll say their own pick could be No. 3 and Minnesota’s may turn out to be No. 7. According to Draft Express, that would net them Harrison Barnes and John Henson. Two future starters at the forward positions, and who knows, perhaps Barnes develops into an All-Star. They could also possibly draft names like Perry Jones, Thomas Robinson or even Jeremy Lamb. Looking at their roster, everywhere besides the two is crumbling. The four is a plain crater.

Going from the playoffs to the worst team in the league can be partly expected when you trade someone like Chris Paul. But the final measurement of this deal hasn’t come yet. It’ll be decided with ping-pong balls next June.

Who should New Orleans look to draft next summer with two probably lottery picks?

Follow Sean on Twitter at @SEANesweeney.

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  • http://deleted dagwaller

    Emeka Okafor and Chris Kaman at C is the best 1-2 Center combo in the league.

    Just saying.

  • north

    Can they play without a PG and just let Gordon and Ariza throw up 3’s all day long?

    The rankings seem a bit high for Toronto… Bargnani is worse than Carl Landry at rebounding. DeMar’s shooting is suspect and Ed Davis is nearly SF height playing the C.
    At least Charlotte has a decent PG, a guy who can score (if nothing else) in Maggette. Cleveland has a potential all-star guard and swiss army knife guy in Tristan Thompson.
    I’m not sure I would pick any of these teams to play as in 2K12 but Toronto would be my last choice.

  • wcs

    what a horrible take on Gordon. Gordon is a stud and a half. I cant believe the clips did that trade for Paul. especially after picking up Chaunc for nothing

  • matt

    It will be interesting to see what they do. EG is not a bad SG to have. They do desperately need a PG though. SF-Ariza, hopefully Aminu will finally be given minutes, he can be more than a role player btw. Landry is solid if not spectacular at PF. They have Kaman and Emeka. Kaman is good because he is expiring, however, with him they could acquire a PG (which they desperately need). Although they really need to start signing players.

  • http://nasteedunx.blogspot.com Nasteedunx

    Sternets > Rockets

  • matt

    They really need more than Jarret Jack at PG. Here’s a thought – Kaman for Igoudala. EG moves to PG,Iggy at SG, Ariza at SF, Landry at PF, Okafor at C. Not a bad lineup. Philly saves some $, finally get a C. Turner and Young start for sure. So: NOH:EG,Iggy,Ariza,Landry,Okafor.
    Philly: Jrue,Turner,Young,Brand,Kaman. Only reasons why this won’t happen:Philly might overvalue Iggy and NOH might not want to take on a lot of salary.

  • Pose

    This NO Team stinks. Gordon will probably score around 25 ppg for this team. What about Clippers. They have Paul, Billups, Mo Williams, Bledsoe and Randy Foye. They need some real SG.

  • NYK

    i still dont understand how this deal is better than the laker deal.

    who cares if the lakers get tons of cap room? it means NOH get Scola Martin and Odom. how is that not as good as EG Kaman and whoever that other scrub is.

  • Baloogawhales

    They should pick up a pg and a forward. No pg really sticks out to me though cus im not that big a fan of teague. They gotta get john henson or thomas robinson. If they get top three pick drummond or davis.

    Lamb wont work unless gordon doesnt resign with them. Lamb and davis or drummond would be interesting. As of now i like lamb over harrison barnes.

  • Dave

    No way is New Orleans worse than Charlotte and Toronto. And Cleveland! I know that CP3 was the franchise, but Monty Williams got the Hornets to play basically with no center, no shooting guard and no power forward. Maybe this year is the year that Ariza grows up, Eric Gordon turns into the Mitch Richmond clone he appears to be and Chris Kaman takes the Number 2 center spot from who… Let’s not forget, centers are extinct and Kaman is a good one! I see possible 8 seed. And what if they go crazy and sign BD and Agent 0…

  • http://www.dimemag.com Slick Ric

    dimemag, sometimes yall be tripping,smh. you try telling the cavaliers,bobcats,t-wolves or the raptors the hornets are the worst team in the league.

  • beiber newz

    dime is wrong according to chicagorilla. the hornets are better set. they got young players and draft picks. they’re on their way to a championship!

  • King

    two tops picks in next years draft is GREAT.

    ant davis & barnes
    drummond & perry jones

    etc… the possibilities are going to be great for them

  • BiGShoTBoB

    IMO they did make out better than the Laker trade. But it’s not like The Clippers are all of a sudden a team that’s going to go deep in the playoffs. As it stands they have Ike Diogu backing up Deandre Jordan and wait for it Brain Cook.

  • Big Island

    I swear on Beiber, if that pick from Minny turns into the #1 pick, I am calling bullshit and boycotting the NBA. Minnesota won’t be bad. Clippers should have held on to Eric Gordon because now they have 92 point guards on their roster. Kaman is nice. Gordon is nice. But the first deal was a better one with Odom and Scola.

  • Big AL

    Lets be serious here, yall know Eric Gordon is better then anyone on the Cavs, Raptors,Wolves and Bobcats…..yeah i said it

  • iLL MAGO

    So wait, the Raptors hired the defensive mastermind of the championship winning Dallas Mavericks and you say they will be the top 5 WORST teams in the NBA? Wow, one thing I notice often regarding the comments of this website is the complete lack of what basketball is all about, the TEAM. Now I know, aside from Charles Oakley the Raptors never fully understood the concept that great defense requires toughness and grit but Dwayne Casey definitely will bring it and EXPECT it from each and every rap. What y’all fail to recognize is the depth of the raptors bench compared to others around the league which will be VERY important for this shortened and compacted season. All you ignorant fantasy owners think Lebron will stuff your stats on the 5th or 6th game of the week? Think again because people are human and after prolonged action become TIRED. Dallas won because they had the better bench and team MAKE-UP rather than 3 superstars and nothing else. In a weak East, the Raptors will sneak in 8th or 7th as Casey will harness Bargnani’s inner Dirk(took him 4 years to be significant player with the help of Nash) and Demar Derozan will BREAK-OUT. Where is Denver, Detroit, Washington, Philly, New Jersey mentioned on this list, Damn, even Utah, Timberwolves & Phoenix? Dime, honestly, hire me as your beat writer because this guy can’t rank talent

  • http://www.facebook.com/markdanielng Daniel Ng

    You are a fucking idiot. chris kaman, emeka okafor, eric gordon > kyrie irving and antawn jamison

  • 2 cents

    @iLL MAGO – oh thank you for your post. I was getting really angry at everyone dissing the Raptors and I couldn’t agree more with your statement.

    Along with the move to the point guard being the greatest asset a team can have, the NBA has moved away from a single superstar and instead is buying into the team concept.

    I don’t know if the Raptors will make the playoffs (I am secretly hoping they snag another high pick in this year’s draft), but playing together with this core for another year will make them all better and then look out next year!

    Derozan for MIP.

  • http://www.psychodrama.com Chicagorilla

    @Ill Mago

    You’re crazy if you think the Raptors will be a anything better than a bottom 5 team in the NBA. They will also be just as terrible at defense as they were the year before. Casey will not be able to get them to play defense because none of those guys know how.
    Dallas had Marion, Chandler, Butler, Stevensen, Kidd, Haywood and other guys who actually are good defenders.

    @DIME
    No way in hell does the Hornets have the worst team in the NBA. Cleveland is by far the sh!ttiest team in the NBA. They have a good chance as setting the worst win/loss record in NBA history. Seriously they suck. Not only that, but with the EAstern confr being just as loaded as the West, the Cavs, Bobcats, TWolves, and Raptors are in for some $h!t.
    The Hornets at least have a guy with All-star potential in gordon, another in Kaman, and a very good starter in Emeka. Throw in Ariza and Jack with Monty Williams coaching and those guys will still be one of the top 10 defensive teams no doubt.

  • trollne1

    Uhm no that “honor” would definitely go to Cleveland.

  • http://www.zwani.com/graphics/funny_pictures/images/88funny-pictures128.jpg JAY

    @Ill Mago: “So wait, the Raptors hired the defensive mastermind of the championship winning Dallas Mavericks and you say they will be the top 5 WORST teams in the NBA?”
    You still need defensive players. In the same breathe, we can get Hakeem Olajuwon to spend 2 months working with Reggie Evans, but Reggie Evans isn’t an offensive players to begin with so he’ll still score 4-5 ppg. Remember Kevin O’Neill? The great defensive mind the Raptors signed fresh from a Detroit Pistons championship. He had guys like Jalen Rose, VC, Donyell Marshall, Dell Curry… they had a defensive mind coaching offensive players, and guess what, it didn’t work.
    Name ONE player on that squad who is a good defender. Not just a decent defender, but a GOOD one. Amir, is not. He’s just a hustle guy. Evans is not, he’s a physical shit disturber who grabs other guys’ nuts. Derozan is still lost… he’s getting better but still needs work. Bayless, and Calderon are not good. Davis is still growing into his game. Bargnani has the tools, but doesn’t have a clue. Magloire…. well…. yeah. Their best defensive player is the guy they just signed…. Rasual Butler. I’m sure he the difference maker who will help them into the final playoff spot. *sarcasm*

    “What y’all fail to recognize is the depth of the raptors bench compared to others around the league which will be VERY important for this shortened and compacted season.”
    Depth?!? What depth?? There’s maybe 1 or 2 starters on their whole roster who MIGHT start on playoff teams – Derozan and Bargnani. A bunch of equally mediocre players does NOT make depth… it makes a shitty team.

    “Dime, honestly, hire me as your beat writer because this guy can’t rank talent”
    No offense, but your whole Raptors analysis is horrible. The day you become a beat writer, is the day Skip Bayless is less annoying.

  • iLL MAGO

    @JAY: Defense and other lock-down skills can be taught, especially by a coach, a lot better than offensive prowess which, other than a couple of fundamentals, is developed individually. Again, we are talking about defense so I don’t know where the topic of Reggie Evans being taught offensive skills by a HOF came from but it is usually reserved for superstars(ie. Dwight Howard by Patrick Ewing) so try to be realistic. Back to the topic at hand, the bench, OH NO, wait, back to the dark purple days of STARTERS limpy gimpy “super-star” Carter, Grandpa Curry, and good Ol’ Captain Crunch. I agree, Kevin O’Neill was brought in to bring a defensive mentality to Raptorland but the writing was already on the wall the minute he stepped in that his “super-stars” CHECKED-OUT mentally and the bench, ahem…the topic at hand, was non-existent(No, Yogi Stewart was nor is better than Aaron Gray). Despite all of this the defensive stats of that team were commendable, just look at them when you have a moment, with my only heartache being Donyell Marshall wasting his best years with us but at least he didn’t whine and B%$CH like Wince did.

    Since you ask for ONE good defender on the Raps then I will give you ONE and his name is James Johnson, just ask Tom Tibideau but if you want more then Gary Forbes, Ed Davis(Monsta Blocka) and yes, Ruasual Butler come to mind, thanks for that one…

    Depth is plural for deep JAY and when your BENCH is filled with reserves, unlike the current Hornets or Nuggets, then it is considered to have depth. I’m confused as to how talent can be described as “deep” but if acquiring a “big three,” as seems to be the winning formula for ALL GMs these days is the only way, then the Raptors have some ways to go, as is the case with 75% of the other small market teams. Still, other than LA, New York, Boston, Texas & Florida SOMEBODY else HAS to make the playoffs. Depth, in my opinion, can also be used to describe the future of a franchise and that my friends, is something Raptorland can smile brightly about.