I've said it before and I'll say it again. I'd welcome a guy like JR Smith on this team.
Michael McNamara -- Hornets247.com
Go big or go home on these possible missing pieces
It would have been hard to believe a couple of seasons ago that Zach Randolph and JR Smith could have been the missing piece on championship contenders, but as we stand almost a full month into the 2012-13 season, that is most certainly the case. Zach Randolph was considered a headcase, both on and off the court. A guy who just looks to fill his own stat sheet with no concern for wins and losses. JR Smith was a chucker who drove nearly a half a dozen coaches (including one in China of all places) to the brink of insanity, and now he is part of the most efficient offenses in the entire NBA.
We always hear of this magical elixir called the “change of scenery” that is supposed to cure athletes of all that ails their game. A guy chokes his coach and he just needs a change of scenery to become a stable individual. What is the solution for a player that goes into the stands and punches a paying customer? Change of scenery. What if you have a point guard who is on the verge of eating himself out of the league? A change of scenery beats any diet.
It sounds rediculous, and most times it is just that. More times than not a player does not change and the organization that acquires him just moves his baggage on to the next destination, but sometimes it does work. This year we have Randolph and Smith rewarding the teams that took a chance when nobody else would. In the past we have seen Latrell Sprewell lead the Knicks to an unlikely Finals run, Artest help the Lakers win Game 7 in the Finals, and Baron Davis help the Warriors pull off one of the greatest playoff upset of all time.
When you close your eyes and take that home run swing, you usually strike out, but every once in a while you smack a long ball that can completely turn around your franchises fortunes. With that in mind, we take a look at the guys who come with baggage, but could be the final piece to getting some hardware.
DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento Kings
If *you were to tell me that there is a guy in the league that will have his career play out exactly like Zach Randolph’s I would bet on Cousins. Like Randolph, Cousins came into the league too young and immature and finds himself in the middle of minor incidents both on and off the court. His coaches and teammates would be the first to tell you that he is not a bad person, he is just “a little off.” In two years, the Kings will have to make a big financial decision on Cousins and this is one franchise that is not in position to take a risk on a player as volitile as Cousins. If they look to move him this summer before they have to make that decision to extend him on October 31st, might a package of our 1st rounder and Robin Lopez suffice? And if so, should the Hornets do it? Remember, Zach Randolph needed a couple of changes of scenery before he got his head straight.
Andrew Bynum, Philadelphia 76ers and Greg Oden, Free Agent
These guys are both on the list for the same reason, and while Bynum has at least played in games over the past couple of seasons, it isn’t clear as of right now which one of these guys has a better chance to stay healthy over the next 5-7 seasons. Bynum cannot stay healthy in a bowling alley, meanwhile Oden is taking the year off and getting some of the same treatment that has lead to a Kobe Bryant rebirth. Oden also would come with the cheaper price tag at this point, but Bynum has the higher ceiling if he stays healthy. Either would be a gamble at this point, especially when you have a roster with Eric Gordon on it, but just imagine the potential of this team with a dominant young center next to Anthony Davis and a healthy Eric Gordon on the wing. More likely than not, we would need a completely different type of elixir to make that a reality, but sometimes you just got to take a chance.
Andray Blatche, Brooklyn Nets
It’s not often that you see a 25 year-old without massive injury issues amnestied by a team that spent six seasons developing him, but that is exactly what happened to Blatche after a series of run-ins with coaches and management. Now he is in Brooklyn on a vet minimum contract having a bit of a resurgence after a change of scenery. Last week’s game against Sacramento showed exactly what he is capable on the court as he scored 22 points on 12 shots in just 19 minutes, leading the team in scoring off the bench. This is a guy who average 17 and 8 just two seasons ago, but has struggled to stay in shape throughout his career. Perhaps a double change of scenery can keep the weight off for good, and the Hornets could be rewarded with a guy who has the potential to be what Rasheed Wallace was offensively in his prime.
Tyreke Evans, Sacramento Kings
When the class of 2009 were all getting their contract extensions at the end of October, it was hard not to notice Tyreke Evans missing from the list. Evans was the runaway Rookie of the Year that season, and now most people would likely rank him outside of the top ten in that class. It is surprising to see how much he has fallen since coming into the league and posting a 20, 6, and 5 as a rookie. Usually, players improve as they get acclomated to the league, but Evans has been lost on a Sacramento team that is full of guards and wings with his same shoot first mentality. While he will never be a knock down perimeter shooter, Evans has the ability to get to the rim at will and is only 23 years old. Perhaps pairing him with an unselfish superstar like Anthony Davis and a hard nosed head coach like Monty Williams is exactly what this guy needs to turn his game back around.
[h=3]Check in on the Young Pups[/h
]Hopefully you all watched the UCLA-Georgetown game I reccomended in last week’s Missing Piece. If you did, you saw the debut of Shabazz Muhammad and the coming out party of Otto Porter. Both are likely to be top 10 picks in June, and while Muhammad is essentially a lock to go in the top three, Porter could figure into the top five if he keeps playing the way he did against UCLA. Porter was already known by scouts as a defensive specialist akin to a young Andrei Kirilinko, but now he is showing a smooth stoke from mid-range and the ability to attack the basket off the dribble. Muhammad, meanwhile, struggled in his first contest but that is to be expected with any player thrown into the lineup just days after being reinstated. In his first start the following day, he led the team with 21 points on just 12 shots, showcasing a bevy of moves that will help him excel at the next level.
Cody Zeller, meanwhile, has struggled somewhat against athletic players this season and some of *his numbers are actually down compared to what he put up as a freshman. I have always thought the talk of him going #1 was a bit proposterous and I actually think a Sullinger-like scenario is more likely for him than most realize. Part of Sullinger’s fall was due to some medical issues, but even before that teams were sliding him down their draft boards because of what they saw during his sophomore year. Once teams started looking at tape on him, they recognized that length and athleticism could bother him, and now teams are doing the same with Zeller. He has posted huge numbers against the Sam Houston State’s of the world, but against Indiana’s two legitimate opponents this year (Georgia and Georgetown), Zeller is averaging just 11.5 points and 6 rebounds and is shooting 40% from the field.
If you want a sleeper to watch this season, check out Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart. Smart is a 6’4″ *freshman combo guard who went head to head with super freshman Rodney Purvis this week and absolutely demolished him as OSU upset #6 NC State. Smart’s stat line was Dwayne Wade-esque as he had 20 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists, 4 blocks, and 4 steals. He isn’t a super elite athlete, but he plays as hard as anyone you have ever seen every minute of the game and is always around the ball. Expect to hear his name a lot more in the weeks to come.
The Missing Piece is a weekly column that runs every Saturday only on Hornets247.com. For past articles, click here.
I've said it before and I'll say it again. I'd welcome a guy like JR Smith on this team.
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Ummm.... Yes, please!
EDIT: Just to run some numbers, a team consisting of Gordon, Anderson, Jason Smith, Rivers, Vasquez, Thomas, Miller, Roberts, Cousins (at the max $13.6), and JR Smith (at $6 million) comes up to a total of $57 million. Re-sign Aminu (not sure if we have Bird Rights or not, but we could use the MLE if we have to). Then sign a couple of vet-min players to fill out the roster.
PG - Vasquez, Rivers, Roberts
SG - Gordon, JR Smith
SF - Aminu, Miller
PF - Davis, Anderson
C - Cousins, J Smith
There is your championship roster.
Last edited by nolaslim213; 11-24-2012 at 02:57 PM.
The team isn't ready for those type of personalities. I think I'd wait until the deadline next season before I even think about it. We are a developmental team at the moment and a lot of those guys are guys that help complete your team rather than help build your team. I'd ideally want to wait until Davis is more developed/established before introducing these types of characters on the team. I think year 3 is the time to really consider it.
Vasquez as our backup 1, Smith as our backup 4/5, and Mason as our backup backup 2.
Cousins, on the other hand, I'm unsure about. He'd be such a boom or bust acquisition, and this upcoming draft is looking better and better by the day. At the moment, I'd be more comfortable with maintaining our front court and investing our soon to be Top 10 pick on a SF prospect. I still have faith that Rivers and Gordon will make up a formidable back court and perform at a high level for years to come.
I see a squad more like this:
1st round draft pick/Miller
*And 2nd round pick BPA
*Doesn't matter if Davis/Lopez starts. We all know Anderson/Davis is our true starting front court combo and play the majority of the minutes.
And while I haven't crunched the numbers, we'd still have around 10-12M to play with. If you hadn't noticed, Aminu wouldn't be on our roster. I'm not sure how popular that decision would be, but if we have the ability to add an athletic wing who can shoot the three and defend (and on a cheaper contract), why not make the move?
Last edited by PelsFan2313; 11-24-2012 at 05:53 PM.
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It is not likely, but it sure is possible
I would like the get Evans as our PG. He can drive and dish to our shooters like Rivers and Ryno. I would love to have Cousins but I don't feel we have enough of a veteran presence to keep him in check. We are a young team like the Kings plus it is New Orleans. You can't tell me he won't be tempted from the Bourbon St., Harrahs, and other distractions.
Cousins... totally dominating the game tonight vs Utah. Just got ejected... The guy definitely needs a change of scenery. I think our locker room is great for him, and Monty won't put up with his BS. The Kings have got to be frustrated with him right now... Strike while the iron is hot!
This is a bit off topic, but I saw Greg Oden's name, and I had to chime in.
I really feel bad for Greg. Sure he made a few million off of potential, but his career is shot. I too have had a stress fracture, and it stinks. I am not sure if anyone else on the board has had a stress fracture, but mine was a hairline stress fracture right where shin meets foot. I messed my foot up 2 years ago when I was running competitively. And even after doing everything that the witch doctor recommended, every now and again my foot kills me. This Thursday at the turkey bowl I hurt it pretty bad, and have had it wrapped up. I am never sure when it is going to put me out for long periods of time (usually I am not allowed to run or play ball for 6 weeks).
With Greg Oden, and as much medical help as he may receive, I can't help but believe his knee will give him problems again. He probably wants to play more than anything, but with the uncertainty surrounding that knee, he will never fetch more than a 1 year deal.
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As Davis develops his post game, I think we're going to see him and Anderson as our big men on the floor at the same time. Not necessarily to start, but definitely finishing games. While I would love a talent of Bynum's caliber at the 5, I think, when EG comes back, a stud at either the 1 or the 3 will be the real difference maker. Our frontcourt is not a problem right now (in terms of PER, we have the #3, #6, and #16 PFs right now, with both Davis and Smiht capable centers). Unfortunately, after CP3 and Iggy, there are no studs at either position that will be available in FA next offseason (I guess Josh Smith is a fringe "stud", but he's also a fringe "SF"). I don't think CP3 leaves LA, and if he does, I still don't think he comes here, even though I think he legitimately likes NOLA and Monty/Dell. Iggy would be fantastic. Vasquez is a terrible defender, but he's large enough that I think you can have him defend the least capable scored on the opponent at the 1, 2, or maybe even 3. EG is a very good defender and Iggy is an elite one. I don't know if Vasquez/EG/Iggy/Anderson/Davis would be good enough to win a championship next season, but they would compete. It would be a great combination of scoring and defense, and Vasquez, while not a great player, has proven that he's capable of running an offense, plus he's still young and has had little talent around him (especially with so many injuries). I could see him flirting with 10 assists per game with that talent around him.
Last edited by THRILLHOUSE; 11-25-2012 at 12:02 AM.
Motiejeunas is an interesting prospect, but we could get more for Vasquez. Guy is a legit starting PG on a dirt cheap contract for this year and next. And we better be damn sure that CP3 is coming here before we choose not to pick up Lopez's option. He's not a great player, but he's on a very good contract at $5m/yr through 2014/15, each being a team option. Trade Vasquez this year, don't pick up Lopez, then NOT getting CP3 leaves us in a really bad spot at PG and weaker in terms of frontcourt depth (the team's strength).
that team is freaking sick in 3 years, gordon davis cousins and aminu in their primes?? whatttt
I like basketball
I really can't see the Kings giving up Cousins for ANOTHER lottery pick, especially if they trade Evans too.. as cheap as the Maloofs are, how many times can you rebuild?
On the other hand, if the Three Stooges have their eye on another market, they might trade Cousins/strip the team and tank the season for draft picks a la Seattle 2007-2008- depressing.
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