I figured that since there isn’t much going on in the NBA, outside of the playoffs of course, we might take a look back at some of the previous drafts that have shaped our franchise. The reason I start with 2005, is of course Chris Paul. This man has shaped the Hornets franchise to date. He still has a lot to do, but seeing as he’s the leading story with any discussion we should start with him.
In today’s little discussion we will assess three things; Pre-Draft Needs and Wants, Draft Selections and Success or Failure’s of that.
So let’s dig in shall we?
Pre-Draft Needs and Wants
In 2004 the New Orleans Hornets had their worst season in franchise history. They won only 18 games, crawling to the end of the season. They had no leader, no direction and no real value in the NBA. The Hornets needed anything, their point guard position was lacking and there were a few at the top of the board that were considered being taken (Deron Williams and Chris Paul).
When the Hornets conducted workouts for prospects a few players caught their eye. Byron Scott though was impressed with Paul, “One word after working out with him is ‘Wow’. He is special, no doubt about that. He was a lot stronger than I thought he was going to be and a better defender.” However Deron Williams thought that the Hornets might be a nice fit for him, “they want someone who can push the ball and I think I can fit in with the kind of athletes the Hornets have on their team.”
With workouts conducted the Hornets draft board looked like this:
- Chris Paul, G Wake Forest
- Raymond Felton, G North Carolina
- Deron Williams, G Illinois
Don’t forget though, the Hornets also held the 33rd selection in the draft. New Orleans needed front-court depth as well. They weren’t sure what they were going to get from David West, Jamal Magloire was declining and P.J. Brown wasn’t going to be around forever.
With the 4th Selection in the 2005 NBA Draft, the New Orleans Hornets selected Chris Paul, guard from Wake Forest University. With Deron Williams off the board, head coach Byron Scott had his man who he was eyeing since the very beginning. Pundits said he had the most upside with his leadership and passion for the game. The only knock on him was his height, but to Paul that was a strength not a weakness.
“I’ve been small my whole life so there were always those people that told me I can’t do this and I can’t do that, so it’s always been motivation and I just thank god for blessing me with this opportunity because this situation I’m in right now” Chris said in his post-draft interview with the media.
The Hornets finally had their leader and people thought the selection was a good one, “Possibly the best player in this draft in Chris Paul fell right into their lap at #4 and New Orleans gobbled him up as they should have,” said Jonathan Givony of Draft Express.
Once that was in the bag, New Orleans turned their sights on the 33rd selection. With it they picked up Brandon Bass, a Louisiana local from LSU. The Hornets needed much more athleticism and Bass could provide it. While some had him falling a little bit latter no one was calling it a “reach.”
Success or Failure?
Hindsight is 20-20 but I always like to look back at what could have been. The 2005 draft was a very successful one for New Orleans. They hit on both selections even if Bass was to be moved (because of Byron Scott’s love affair with 30 year old veterans).
Chris Paul is now a star point guard in the league and is arguably the best. His career averages are 18.7 points per game, 9.9 assists and 2.4 steals. For reference, here’s how he stacks up against players drafted around him (similar in position).
As for the other selection, Brandon Bass, it was somewhat of a disappointment. Bass has been a solid rotation player in the league, but for the Dallas Mavericks and Orlando Magic. Bryon Scott continued to run with his veteran players, unwilling to develop any young talent not picked in the top 5 of the draft.
Bass has had a great career to date and is making the Hornets look foolish for never trying to develop younger players.
Overall this draft was a great success. New Orleans got the face of the franchise they are building around. It’s not often that happens, but when it does you must try to get that player talent, a problem still faced to this very day.