Hornets look to have bounce-back year

Kyle Riviere
The Hornets were able to snag Anthony Davis with the No. 1 pick.

Last season was a tough one for the Hornets. They lost their all-everything point guard and the face of the franchise in Chris Paul before the season even got started.

And then, their new edition, Eric Gordon, who was supposed to pick up the slack left by Paul, suffered a season-ending knee injury and was only able to play nine games.

Those two key losses set the stage for a tumultuous season that ended with only 21 wins and an anemic offense that only averaged 90 points a game--which ranked 29th in the NBA.

And there wasn't much light at the end of the tunnel. That changed rather quickly when New Orleans won the Draft Lottery in May.

As a result, the Hornets were able to land the No. 1 overall pick in Anthony Davis, and they then snagged Austin Rivers with the No. 10 pick.

Davis is fresh off of an amazing freshman year at Kentucky where he led the Wildcats to a national crown and won National Player of the Year and NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player.

He averaged 14 points, 10 rebounds and an amazing five blocks per game with his freakish wingspan.

Though he will need to bulk up and work on his offensive game, he should be able to help New Orleans immediately with rebounding and defense.

Rivers, the son of Celtics head coach Doc Rivers, was also a one-and-done player. He had a stellar freshman year at Duke where he proved to be the Blue Devils' most consistent scorer and hit big shot after big shot.

After playing point guard at Duke, he will now play his natural position at shooting guard. He should be a direct boost to the Hornets' struggling offense.

And at the point guard spot, New Orleans will gladly welcome back Gordon. Before last year's injury, he was averaging 21 points and three assists per contest. Once he gets back to 100 percent, he will be a dimension to the Hornets' game that was missing all of last year.

And though New Orleans lost their leading rebounder in Emeka Okafor, their leader in steals in Trevor Ariza and their leading shot-blocker in Chris Kaman, they added a few more pieces in the offseason.

Ryan Anderson comes in from the Magic. The power forward averaged 16 points and seven rebounds a year ago in Orlando and also adds the dimension of three-point shooting.

Robin Lopez comes from Phoenix to give Davis and Jason Smith help inside.

With a healthy Gordon and nice new pieces like Davis, Rivers and Anderson, the Hornets should be much-improved, but a playoff run could still be just wishful thinking.

The Western Conference is always a killer, and New Orleans' Southwest Division is still stout.

The defending division champion Spurs are the prohibited favorites to win it again, and the Grizzlies and new-look Mavericks both look like shoe-ins for the No. 2 and three spots.

It looks like the Hornets will be competing with the Rockets all year for the fourth spot. It'll be a battle; Houston added last year's sensation at point guard in Jeremy Lin and a great scorer and proven winner in James Harden.