Couldn't agree more. Berman is one of the top 10 (wait...let's double check ESPN's roster...), top 5 talents ESPN has. In fact, I propose a White House petition to bring back, back, back, back, back the Berman/Jackson NFL Primetime.
Hornets Overall Team Grade
I actually would have given a higher grade if they would have kept Cole Aldrich, but I do like them dumping some salary. (Grade: C+)
21. Craig Brackins, PF, Iowa State
This pick is going to the Hornets in the Aldrich trade. Brackins is an athletic power forward who fills a need for some depth in the Hornets frountcourt. He is NBA ready but very similar to David West in that is more of a scorer than physical presence. With that being said, he is more ready to contribute than any of the remaining post prospects. (Pick Grade: Meh)
26. Quincy Pondexter, SF, Washington
This pick is going to New Orleans and adds some toughness to their wing. Pondexter is not a gret outside shooter, but he will bring some energy to the Hornets bench. I don't think he is anything more than a 12 minute a night type of player but he will be ready to play right away. (Pick Grade: Meh)
2009-10 Season Summary:
Two years ago, the Hornets were one of the fastest rising teams led by the next great point guard in the league, Chris Paul. But since winning 56 games in 2007-2008, the franchise has taken two steps backward and now finds itself back in the lottery.
The reason for a below .500 finish this past year can be directly related to Paul's injury-filled season. However, with Paul sidelined, rookie point guard Darren Collison filled in admirably and appears to be a great value for the 21st pick in the 2009 NBA Draft. Second-round pick Marcus Thornton also made a major impact in his rookie season adding his scoring ability from the wing. But other than David West, the other veteran Hornets failed to live up to their hefty contracts. Peja Stojakovic continues to prove he is well past his prime, while Emeka Okafor suffered his worst year as a pro in his first season in New Orleans.
2010-11 Projected Depth Chart:
C: Emeka Okafor/Aaron Gray
PF: David West/Darius Songaila/Craig Brackins
SF: Trevor Ariza/Peja Stojakovic
SG: Marcus Thornton/Quincy Pondexter/Marco Belinelli
PG: Chris Paul
NBA Free Agents:
PF Ike Diogu (UFA)
C Sean Marks (UFA)
2010-11 Team Salary: Approximately $72.0 million
2010-11 League Salary Cap: $58 million
Hornets acquire G/F Trevor Ariza in four-way trade that sends PG Darren Collison and SF James Posey to Pacers
Hornets acquire SG Marco Belinelli from Raptors for SF Julian Wright
Hornets re-sign C Aaron Gray to 2-year deal
Hornets acquire PF Craig Brackins (21st pick) and SF Quincy Pondexter (26th pick) from Thunder for C Cole Aldrich (11th pick) and SG Morris Peterson
NBA Offseason Needs:
1. Depth up front- In Okafor and West, the Hornets have their starting frontcourt set. After that, it is really thin. Songaila is likely to exercise his player option for this season, but that still leaves New Orleans in need of some other bodies up front. With the 11th pick in the 2010 NBA Mock Draft, there figures to be a few solid players worth picking at that point to help add depth. With no cap space, that should be the route the Hornets go in addressing this need unless they are able to pull off a trade.
2. Wing player- The duo of Stojakovic and Peterson is aging and lacks a great deal of athleticism. Both players are better suited coming off the bench at this point of their careers. Posey is a solid role player but is also getting up there in age, while Julian Wright has yet to pan out in his first two years in the league. Thornton is a nice scoring punch off the bench, but probably should not be starting. The Hornets need an upgrade on the wing and could dangle Peja's expiring contract to bring in some fresh talent.
3. Shop Collison- It's a luxury to have two starting point guard-quality players, which is what the Hornets seemingly have with Paul and Collison. With Paul healthy though, Collison's minutes will decrease. Although the two can play together in the same backcourt, that is not the ideal situation. Since Collison's value should be rather high and seeing that it's only in his second year in the league, I think the Hornets should shop him around and see if they can upgrade other positions especially since they do not have any flexibility in free agency. If they don't find a good deal, no problem; bring him back. No harm in trying though...