I have made no secret….I’M A AUSTIN RIVERS FAN!!!
Scroll down on this blog and you’ll see that back in February I had the former Duke University guard going to the Hornets as a top 10 pick.
I have not moved off my stance…I still think Rivers should be a New Orleans Hornet!
With the 1st overall selection in the 2012 NBA draft the Hornets will of course take Anthony Davis from the University of Kentucky. The franchise also has the 10th overall selection and in my opinion the choice is very very easy…Austin Rivers.
Rivers reminds me of Steph Curry…and to some degree, Russell Westbrook.
Standing in the way of Rivers coming to New Orleans to join Davis as the foundation of a young team are the NBA franchises picking between #6-#9.
Rives could go 8th overall to Toronto or 9th overall to Detroit….or a team could very easily make a trade and jump up in front of the Hornets to select the 6’4 inch Rivers.
Rivers could start his career as a backup combo guard off the bench behind Jarrett Jack and Eric Gordon. Hopefully by the end of Rivers rookie season he could emerge as the Hornets starting point guard, forming a lethal back court with Gordon. If Rivers did in fact emerge as the starting PG than Jack becomes a tradable asset that can bring back value at the deadline next February.
NOT TYLER ZELLER
If Rivers is off the board the choice for the Hornets becomes less obvious.
Lots of experts think Tyler Zeller is the pick for the Hornets. I disagree. If Zeller were the pick I’d be okay with that but I think the Hornets can do better.
I like Zeller…but the former UNC big man is probably a better fit for a team on the cusp of breaking through. Zeller is a complete player and he’d be a nice fit with the Hornets but I think Monty Williams team already has two good rotational big man who can play next to Anthony Davis (Jason Smith & Gustavo Ayon). I also believe that the Hornets will make a run at Ryan Anderson & Irsan Illysova in free agency.
While I would love to see the Hornets trade up in the draft to select a player like former UNC small forward Harrison Barnes I don’t believe the team has the chips to make a play to get up in the draft.
This is a far more likely scenario for the Hornets if the player they covet is gone at #10. I keep circling Boston and picks #20 & #21 and Houston and picks #14 and #16. Those teams could put together a package that might entice the Hornets to make a move. For example, the Rockets really need a center. If Houston is in love with Tyler Zeller or Meyers Leonard and fears both will be gone at #14 would they dangle Donatas Motiejunas in a trade to the Hornets? The Lithuanian big man will reportedly make his highly anticipated NBA debut this season. Would Boston do a deal that includes young big man JuJuan Johnson and pick #21 for the 10th selection?
The Hornets could reach for a player they have scouted and believe will be a steal at #10. One name that pops up is former Iowa State star Royce White. Based on ability many experts say White is a lottery talent…but due to off the court issues and an anxiety disorder that results in a fear of flying White is projected to be selected between 17-30. Would the Hornets reach on him? Would the Hornets reach on French SG/SF Evan Fournier? Fournier worked out for the Hornets last weekend. The 19-year-old wing player is projected to go near the bottom of the 1st round. 18-year-old small forward Moe Harkless from St. John’s also falls into the reach category.
All that being said…here is what I think the Hornets do in the upcoming NBA Draft:
Selection #1 (1st Round): Anthony Davis/PF-C/University of Kentucky
Selection #10 (1st Round): Austin Rivers/PG-SG/Duke University
*If Rivers is gone: Royce White/PF-SF/Iowa St.
Selection #46 (2nd Round): Nihad Djedovic/SF-SG/Bosnia
*I landed on Djedovic because unlike the few other Euros being discussed as 2nd round picks in this draft he can actually come over and play immediately.