PG: Greivis Vasquez:
To be fair Vasquez is only listed as the starter for a lack of better options. The team has been adamant in their hopes of Rivers becoming the starter they need, but his transformation into a point guard seems years a way. Vasquez does have his strengths, mainly height, passing, court vision and shooting. There is no doubt he is a strong player, but he has his fair share of weaknesses, including a complete lack of speed or athleticism, defense and poor decision making. Simply put, he would be a strong backup, but his lack of physical attributes without great skill to make up for them, means that he would be best off the bench.
SG: Eric Gordon:
Now that Gordon is officially resigned, everyone involved can look forward to what he will do for the team. After months of uncertainty, Gordon officially remained a Hornet after the team matched Phoenix’s max offer sheet. The team will expect a career year from Gordon and he should easily be the team’s leading scorer. He averaged over 20 points per game last season, but he only played in a few of them because of injuries. Now that he is recovered, it seems safe to expect the offense to flow through Gordon, who can do it all. Not only is he an elite shooter, but he is also a very good ball-handler and is able to create his own shot and get to the hoop. He could make his first All-Star game this season.
SF: Ryan Anderson:
This spot is simply a shot in the dark, as Anderson has played power forward his entire career and at 6’10 and not very athletic he will struggle on defense, but he would be just as out of place at the 5 and the team did not spend 36 million dollars for him to come off the bench on a lottery team. There have been rumors that the team is unwilling to play prized rookie Anthony Davis out of position at center, which would be wise, so for now he should be penciled in at the four. Anderson actually plays like a perimeter player and led the NBA in three point attempts and makes last year on his way to the NBA’s Most Improved Player Award. A permanent move to the perimeter, could actually work out and with Davis and Lopez behind him, his poor defense would be masked.
PF: Anthony Davis:
What is there to say about Davis that has not already been said. The number one pick in this year’s draft and the team’s franchise player and hopeful savior is amazing. The 19 year old is already an Olympian and will come into the league with as much hype as any player since Lebron James. Davis is a fantastic athlete, with an amazing wingspan and overall measurable. He is already an elite defender and could lead the league in blocks as a freshman and is a very good man-to-man defender. He is also much better on offense than most think, with a very smooth touch around the rim and a more than reliable jump shot. He is also an elite rebounding prospect and he will end possessions on defense and create extra opportunities on offense. For now it would be a big surprise if he is not the Rookie of the Year. The team would be wise to keep him at power forward, despite the fact that many think he should play center to allow Anderson to flourish at power forward, but Davis does not have the bulk or physicality to play inside and they would be crazy to play such an elite prospect at a position where he will not be at his best.
C: Robin Lopez
Lopez is the only true center on the team, but it is unknown if the more talented Davis and Anderson will push him onto the bench. But for now he is the projected starting center. He has been a somewhat of a disappointment since being drafted 15th overall by Phoenix in the fantastic 2008 NBA Draft. However, he has never been given ample playing time to prove himself and he has put up excellent per 36 minute rebounding and block numbers throughout his career and is a very good man-to-man and help defender. He is simply a very good tough defensive minded center. He is not particularly skilled on offense, but he does get a very good amount of offensive rebounds and will score on second chance baskets. Lopez and Davis would create one of the better defensive starting frontcourts in the NBA, if the team decides to use this starting lineup. Whether he starts or plays off the bench, he will be a very important piece for them.
Probable Backups (Based on Role)
Guard: Austin Rivers
Rivers will most likely be the first guard off the bench and is capable of running the point in the second unit, but they would be best served having him as their top bench scorer. His job will be to score the basketball, which is something he does very well. He is an elite mid range and three-point shooter, who also excels as a ball-handler and can create his own shot at will. He is better at setting himself up more than his teammates, which is why he would be an excellent first option for the second unit, just like Jason Terry and Ben Gordon.
SF: Al Farouq Aminu
Aminu could be the team’s starting small forward, if they do decide to put Anderson or Davis at center. Aminu still has great potential entering his third season, and has flashed brilliance at times on the court. He has actually been quite good in the Olympics as the star player on the Nigerian National Team. He has elite size and athleticism for the position and has the ability to be a lockdown perimeter defender. Early in his rookie season he surprised many by showing a great touch from behind the three-point line, but once his shot stopped falling he struggled. With his physical talents he should be able to get to the hoop, but has seemed reluctant. Expect 25-30 minutes per game and a breakthrough season from Aminu, as he is simply too good to continue struggling.
PF: Jason Smith
Smith is a true seven footer who has played primarily at the four, because he lacks to strength to bang down low with NBA fives. He is an
excellent offensive player, with a smooth touch down low and a good jump shot. He is also a plus rebounder and has been very efficient throughout his career. If Anderson starts at the 3 expect Smith to be the first big off the bench and take over Carl Landry’s role of the highly efficient and hard working big man. He is not the tough bruiser that Landry is, but he should be a valuable bench player overall.
Forward: Hakim Warrick
Warrick will serve as a combo forward, playing the three in bigger lineups and the four in more athletic lineups. His best position is at
the four, when he can use his athleticism to get by bigger players, but the depth at power forward may force him to play more at the three. He has always showed flashes of potential and is an elite athlete, but he has never been a great defender or shooter. He should make the rotation, but with the depth at the forward positions, he may not get the playing time he is used to getting..
SG: Xavier Henry
It is safe to say that Henry has been a massive disappointment in the NBA since he was the 12th overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft. Being traded in his second season from Memphis did not help, but Henry has not yet found his role in the NBA. At 6 foot 6 and with excellent athleticism he has a chance to become an excellent defender, but after coming into the league with a reputation as a great shooter that part of his game has
not looked good. He could carve out a niche in the NBA as a defensive specialist/shooter, a poor man’s Shane Battier. The Hornets are likely going to give Henry a spot in the rotation early on, but if he does not show improvement, he will spend most of the season on the bench.
SG: Roger Mason Jr.
The newest member of the Hornets, will have two jobs on the team. First and foremost Mason Jr., will instantly become a leader in the locker room as he has in his last few stops of his NBA career. He is a hard worker that young players flock too and on such a young team, expect Mason to become a leader. Second, he will be expected to be an efficient scorer. It is unsure how the rotation will play out, but he will be expected to bring his elite three point shooting and high octane scoring when he does get into the game.
G/F: Darius Miller:
As the sixth man on the National Champion Kentucky team, he is used to playing off the bench and doing the little things to help his team win games. He is a solid shooter and defender, who will play at 100% every minute on the floor. He is just the quintessential role player who knows his role and will do what he can to help the team win. He could have starred on most teams in the country, but the fact he decided to be a role player on a winning team says a lot about his character and shows that winning is most important. He could be more efficient, but he will help the New Orleans Hornets win basketball games.