With training camp starting in Cleveland on October 1, Right Down Euclid will be ranking teams from the bottom to the top of the Eastern and Western Conferences. Everyday I will rotate between conferences, starting with the East teams and counting up from No. 16 all the way to the best team in each respective conference.
I will give a quick synopsis of each team’s roster, some of their statistics from last year and why I think they will finish in the position that I predicted. Agree or disagree, stay tuned to RDE to see where your team lands in the 2012 Offseason Team Rankings.
No. 12 – New Orleans Hornets (4th in Southwest)
2011-12 season: 21-45 (.318), 5th place in Southwest Division (3-11)
Offensive Efficiency: 98.3 (26th)
Defensive Efficiency: 102.3 (16th)
F – Al-Farouq Aminu
F – Ryan Anderson
F – Anthony Davis
G – Eric Gordon
G – Xavier Henry
C – Robin Lopez
G – Roger Mason
F – Darius Miller
G – Austin Rivers
G – Brian Roberts
F – Jason Smith
F – Lance Thomas
G – Greivis Vasquez
F – Hakim Warrick
The Hornets had one of the best offseasons in the NBA this season, trading for 2012 Most Improved Player of the Year Ryan Anderson and taking power forward Anthony Davis and point guard Austin Rivers in the first round of the draft. Signing shooting guard Eric Gordon, one of the premier two guards in the league, helps to fill out a young starting lineup that could one day dominate the Western Conference. However, the Hornets are returning hardly any players who saw time as starters last season, so let the rebuilding begin. This team will be unbearable to watch the first few weeks of the season, but look for great things once the chemistry starts to build.
The problem was on offense for the Hornets last season, and having Gordon healthy and Rivers running the point at times will help a lot with the scoring they lost from parting ways with Jarrett Jack and Chris Kaman. Although Rivers was a combo guard in college, the best bet for him early on is to run the point. He shot very poorly in his two Summer League games, hitting only 21.1 percent of his field goal attempts. He did manage to come away with four steals in those two contests, but only averaged 3.5 assists and turned over the ball six times. Not a very good showing, but having Gordon to work with will definitely help.
I can’t end this article without devoting a paragraph to the No. 1 draft pick. In the seven Olympic games that he participated in, he averaged 7.6 minutes and made 64.7 percent of his field goal attempts. He didn’t get ample playing time, but that was expected. He won’t help his team offensively as much as people expect this season, but he will put up averages of 12+ rebounds and 3+ blocks. The Hornets defense, who lost some pieces this offseason, was one of the strong points in 2011-12, as they averaged 93.4 points allowed. That was good for eighth in the NBA. Look for the defense to carry this team once again in 2012-13.