Hornets With the third pick in the 1999 Usenet Mock NBA, The Charlotte Hornets and their Net GM, Kevin Keenan, select:

Baron Davis, PG, 6'2", UCLA


The Charlotte Hornets had their share of ups and downs in 1999, opening 4-11 under Dave Cowens. But after Cowens left the team and new coach Paul Silas came aboard, the team rebounded to finish 26-24 and almost sneak into the playoffs. Not bad considering this team was considered one of the worst in the NBA saddled with aging veterans and malcontents. The mid season trade of Glen Rice, JR Reid and BJ Armstrong to Los Angeles for Eddie Jones and Elden Campbell improved the teams athleticism and gave them a much needed prescence in the pivot. Campbell flourished in his role as starting center in Charlotte, and should only get better with time. Moving from 13 to 3 in the draft was another huge step in the right direction. Instead of adding a journeyman at number 13, the Hornets now have a chance to pick up a bonafide superstar at #3. What appeared to be a hopeless situation for a team which has been above .500 for the past 7 seasons, has quickly changed to a team with some of the parts to be a power in a weak Eastern Conference. What a difference a few months can make.


The Hornets biggest need is an offensive weapon who can create some excitement and get others involved in the scoring. The current team has several players who can put up double digits consistently, but they cannot create thier own shot. Eddie Jones, Anthony Mason, Derrick Coleman and Elden Campbell all can go for 25 on any given night, but most likely will score 12-16 points.

Frontcourt depth is also a major priority with the club for 1999-2000. Losing Charles Shackleford, Chucky Brown, and Chuck Person are not considered major losses by any means, but the club would like to hang on to Brad Miller to back up Campbell in the pivot. Miller, an undrafted FA in 1999, was a plesant surprise for the Hornets and provides toughness off the bench.


David Wesley is a capable point guard in the NBA, but he is not what the Hornets need to take them to the next level in the Eastern Conference. Wesley averaged 14 points and six assists last season, but cannot be expected to contribute much more. However, Wesley is a mature veteran, and his presence would help the ease learning curve for a young point guard.


Eddie Jones is a great defensive player who energized the team after his arrival. Jones is also a premeir defensive player and former all star who could blossom in Charlotte this season. Rookie Nick Davis played well considering he is only 19 years old, and showed flashes, pouring in 32 in the season finale vs Boston. 1999 FA signee Eldridge Recasner was a major disappointment, trying to fill the shoes of Dell Curry, scoring only 4 a game. He must rebound next season if the Hornets are to be succesful.


Bobby Phills was injured for much of 1999, but when healthy he is a blanket defensively. Able to guard Eastern Conference forward/guards like Steve Smith and Grant Hill, Phills contributions are not overlooked. However Phills offensive skills are below average and this limits his overall value to the club.


Here is where it gets interesting. Anthony Mason is one of the most talented players in the league, able to play point forward or down low. His physical low post game is good, and his ball handling is superior for a player of his size. However Mason has never been happy, and will never be happy. Will Silas be able to get thru to Mason? No one else has, so I see no reason this should change. Nonetheless, Mason is an immense talent who is in his FA season in 2000. Expect big things as Mason plays for a contract. Derrick Coleman is altogether another story. Oft injured, the player Charles Barkey once called the most talented player in the NBA is signed through 2003, and the Hornets must find a way to motivate the out of shape big man, or deal him.


Elden Campbell arrived from Los Angeles and began to blossom. He had showed his ability to produce when playing for the injured Shaquille ONeal, but disappeared when ONeal was healthy. Now the main low post prescence in Charlotte, Campbell could average 18 points 10 rebounds and 3 blocks in 2000. Retaining Brad Miller as a back up for Campbell would help, or acquiring one thru the draft is an option as well. Coleman can move to the 5 when necessary also.


The Hornets select Baron Davis, guard, UCLA. Davis has an NBA body, and is possibly the most athleticly gifted player in the draft. He can break anyone down off the dribble and is outstanding in the open floor. A flashy finisher, Davis will electrify the Hive, and help create easy scoring oppotunities for Campbell, Jones, Mason, and cast. Davis' defense is often overlooked due to his great offensive skills, but he is a true stopper and played man-to-man exclusively in college. People forget how well he shut down 1998 #2 overall pick Mike Bibby in each of their college matchups.

Davis will need to work on his propensity to turn the ball over as well as his streaky jump shot. But that will come with time. Its much easier to slow a player down, than it is to speed him up. Davis in time will learn how to run a team, rather than always trying to be the team. His knee injury helped him mature, and his game grew a bit as well last year, as he learned he didnt have to score 30 every night for his team to win. Davis is the type of athelete that this team needs desperately.

Hopefully Davis will have a long and prosperous career in Charlotte, a team which no longer has many homegrown players. Former number one picks, Rex Chapman, Kendall Gill, Larry Johnson, Alonzo Mourning, JR Reid, Kobe Bryant (traded for Vlade Divac) all are starring elsewhere. Davis is the type of player the Hornets can build around...but havent we heard that before?


Other players considered were Steve Francis of Maryland...another highlight film player, but projects to a 2 in the NBA and with Wesley, Bobby Phills, Eddie Jones, and Eldridge Recasner (along with Nick Davis) there is a long jam at the shooting guard and small forward position on this team. Duke product Elton Brand does not have the upside of Davis or Francis, and the team is ok with Mason, Coleman and Campbell. Corey Magette is too raw for this team. Point guards Jason Terry, Andre Miller and William Avery all do one or two things very well, but Davis has the ability to do it ALL well. A possible trade down with Toronto for 5 and 12, or with Cleveland 8 and 11, would allow the Hornets to take one of the other point guards and possibly address the need in the frontcourt with Shawn Marion or Evan Eschmeyer. But Davis is the selection here.

We believe that the team will fall victim to pressure of drafting the next Michale and draft Steve Francis if he isnt taken at 1 or 2. Francis is an ACC guy, will help fill the stands again at the Hive and the Hornets might be too scared not to draft him.

If Chicago drafts Lamar Odom, as expected and Vancouver drafts Francis, Charlotte would choose between Wally Szczrebiak, Elton Brand and Baron Davis. Fearing a "reach" with Davis, the Hornets will take the safe route and draft Brand to replace Mason who is a free agent after next season.


Other moves the team will make in the offseason are attempting to work out a deal with Jones, who has one year left on a long term deal he signed with the Lakers, possibly working out a deal with Mason (if he can get his act together) and acquring a back up center via free agency to spell Campbell. Another scoring threat off the bench is a priority as well, with Phills being a defense stopper only, and Recasner a huge disappointment unable to replace the departed Dell Curry (1998). A guy like Mario Elie would be nice.

Craig Simpson - Usenet Draft Commissioner

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