The sports media will be inundating television screens and radio speakers with talk of the new-look Clippers 24/7 until Christmas Day comes and probably for a while after that. So, I’d like to look at another angle of this trade and dive into each new piece for the New Orleans Hornets. Spoiler alert: they’re some solid additions.
Gordon was clearly a piece the Hornets wanted to be in the deal. Because of Blake Griffin’s emergence as the new pretty boy for the NBA, Gordon did not get much national attention last season. Don’t let that give you the wrong impression though – the kid can play. This young, athletic shooting guard has increased his scoring every year in the league, landing at 22.3 points per game last season. Furthermore, Gordon has almost doubled his assists per game since his first season, going from 2.8 to 4.4 last year. He played a whopping 37.7 minutes per game, proving his endurance for a 48-minute basketball game. To say Gordon has potential should scare the rest of the league since he already put up all-star type numbers last season. The main weakness of this athletic swingman has to be his tendency to turn over the ball. He turned the ball over 2.7 times per game last year and taking on an even larger role with the Hornets will require this number to come down. Another might be his introverted personality, but as Dirk Nowitzki has shown throughout the years, being boisterous and loud isn’t a necessity to lead a team to success. If this three-year pro can mature as a player and accept the role as the Hornets leader, he could easily be the new face of the Hornets franchise.
Even though most believe the best part about the Hornets picking up Kaman relates to his expiring contract, I see a legitimate player. Similarly to Gordon, Kaman fell out of the spotlight due to a young, flashy dunker – DeAndre Jordan. There’s one thing about the Caveman (I promise, it’s his nickname) many forget about: just two seasons ago, he made the all-star team. He finished that year averaging 18.5 points per game and grabbing 9.2 rebounds per game. However, because of Griffin and Jordan stealing the show with their constant dunks and a left ankle injury sidelining him to only 32 games on the season, Kaman became a forgotten player that many believed didn’t have much left in the tank… this is not the case. 29-year-old Kaman has a solid low-post game along with a dependable mid-range jumper. Turning over the ball has never been a problem for him, always remaining below 3 turnovers per game every season. As long as his ankle injury has no lingering effects on his game, this 7’0″ American-German basketball player can easily make up for what David West brought the team and maybe even more.
Maybe not as juicy of a pick-up as the previous two players, but one that, with work, could grow into a dependable small forward has to be this slender 21-year-old. Standing at 6’9″ with a ridiculous 7’3″ wingspan, Aminu is simply built to play basketball. He automatically becomes one of the Hornets’ best athletes, along with Eric Gordon. He also doesn’t give up much on defense with his long arms and 33.5″ vertical jump. His basketball IQ could be better, but that should be expected from a soon-to-be sophomore NBA player that only lasted two years at Wake Forest. Since the Hornets have no player above the age of 30 on the team, Aminu will need to do some maturing without the guidance of a veteran forward. If head coach Monty Williams and the rest of the Hornets staff give Aminu a few years to develop, he and Gordon could be a deadly and athletic one-two punch at the 2 and 3.
Minnesota’s unprotected 2012 first-round pick
Since so much of the Timberwolves upcoming season impacts this part of the deal, many don’t take notice to the significance it holds. However, if Minnesota finds a way to have another sub-par year with all their young and inexperienced talent (a very likely outcome since Rubio will not transform into an NBA point guard in one year), the Hornets could be a very lucky franchise. The 2012 draft class looks to be one of the deepest the NBA has seen in a while. Many big time players will be available (Anthony Davis, Harrison Barnes, Jared Sullinger, and Perry Jones to name a few), so even if the T-Wolves don’t provide New Orleans with one of the top picks or even a lottery pick, a contributor can still be added to the roster, no matter the placement. If the Hornets can stick this drafted player in with the other three ex-Clippers, don’t be surprised if the New Orleans Hornets get back to their winning ways.
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