After we previously discussed the 2006 NBA Draft, we now move on to the 2007 Draft and what it entailed for the New Orleans Hornets. The draft lottery didn’t go their way, as the Portland Trail Blazers moved up to some how snag the first-overall pick. The Hornets were left with the 13th pick.
The best players in the draft were Greg Oden, Kevin Durant and Al Horford. After that it was pretty much up in the air. The Hornets also had a second-round pick in addition to their first, so they had to find impact players to help contribute to the team that was on the cusp of the play-offs.
Finding such a player did seem possible. A number of guys looked very good in workouts namely Brandon Wright, Thaddeus Young and Julian Wright.
As for the Hornets they were getting some things done in the offseason to help build on what they already had. They signed Morris Peterson to a 4yr/23 million dollar contract and acquired a new investor, you guessed it, Gary Chouest, who purchased a minority stake in the franchise.
Things were on the up and up. It was rumored they were looking for a wing, and it’s just what they found.
Pre-Draft Needs And Wants
The Hornets roster looked solid, but they needed depth. They had Chris Paul running the point, Morris Peterson was their new 2-guard, Peja Stojakovic and David West were the forwards and Tyson Chandler manned the Center position. They still needed to find impact players though and in the draft there were several.
The thing is, most experts and mock drafts had as slated to take a number of prospects.
- ESPN’s Bill Simmons had us taking Spencer Hawes
- Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski had us taking Jeff Green
- Hoopsworld had us taking Yi Jianlian
It was a very unclear draft and the Hornets could pick up anyone who fell into their lap. Some players were rising up the boards, while others were slipping down. Bryon Scott was impressed with Thaddeus Young:
“I saw a bunch of tape on him this summer and watching the tape I wasn’t impressed,” Scott said Friday after watching Young and three other prospects work out. “But watching him out here in the individual workouts and the 2-on-2 and the 1-on-1 and things like that, he did a lot of things that I didn’t see on the tape.”
It was looking like the Hornets wanted an athletic swing man.
With the 13th Pick in the 2007 NBA Draft the New Orleans Hornets selected Julian Wright, forward from the University of Kansas. People didn’t quite know what to make of the pick. Wright was a guy who had a tonne of potential. Draft Express explains:
Wright is clearly a 5 on 5 player who shines with his versatility and basketball IQ more so than with an array of polished skills…footwork here is excellent, looking highly fluid with his jab-steps and step-drags and getting nice elevation on his jumper. It’s here that he looks the part of a 3-man the most, particularly when he decides to utilize a quick spin move to bump his man off and clear some space to get his shot off.
Moving on the Hornets then looked to the second round, and drafted Adam Haluska a shooting guard from Iowa.
It wasn’t the draft that many Hornets fans were hoping for, but maybe, just maybe it was something to build for the bench.
Success Or Faliure?
After the 2006 Draft people were hoping that this one would be the one where we pull out something nice, it wasn’t. Julian Wright had an impact player in the 2008 NBA playoffs and in turn became a fan favorite, but he never developed into what we all hoped. Wright had a lot of potential for New Orleans. He has prototypical size, athleticism and length. The problem though is that he is just a terrible basketball player. He doesn’t know the game, doesn’t have any offensive moves, has no jumpshot, leaves his man on defense and overall just doesn’t seem confident when in the game.
It’s not for a lack of trying, Julian works hard and knows that he can be a great player. But his career has never panned out. Now, he sits on the bench for the Toronto Raptors, refusing to get up and play in blowouts. He still doesn’t have any offense shooting a miserable 26% from three.
I really hope that Wright figures his game out. If he can find a jumpshot, some kind of offensive moves and work on not looking lost on the floor then maybe he could contribute to some teams. But again, I’m still not so sure. It seems like the Raptors are going to release him and he might be bound for Europe. I think that Raptors Assistant Coach Larry Hughes summed him up best:
He’s [Julian Wright] got a long ways to go. Until he’s able to knock down that jump shot consistently, he’s going to have to find other ways to help the team. And we tried to do that at times, he’s a great defender, a great passer, I think he’s got a great feel for the game, but I think at times we struggled putting him on the floor because we had to find a way to have that position score and he struggled in that manner.
Julian though did a lot of great things for us. He’s a great practice player, he always kept everyone on their toes in practice because he’s only got one speed, that’s 100 miles per hour.
As for Adam Haluska he was traded to Houston, then released and hasn’t played a single minute in the NBA.
While Julian Wright was a fan favorite for his flair and dunks, he still reminds me of when potential gets wasted. He never seemed confident in his shooting or scoring ability and for that manner never really showed that he had any. The Hornets moved on, but another empty draft killed them when guys like Peja Stojakovic began to break down. It just goes to show you why you need to draft well EVERY year, because you never know what’s over the horizon.