"The country needs and, unless I mistake its temper, the country demands bold, persistent experimentation. It is common sense to take a method and try it: If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something." - Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin Delano Roosevelt, widely considered one of the greatest presidents in U.S. history, was the kind of man who was willing to put all his chips down on a big solution. When FDR took office in 1933, the country was in the midst of the Great Depression, with American citizens feeling hopeless, not knowing where to turn to get their lives back to normal. He quickly began implementing his New Deal, a set of policies that he hoped would create jobs and encourage spending. There's a lot of debate about how effective the New Deal was; some say the policies were ineffective and poorly planned for the long term, and that despite job growth through 1937, the return to recession in the years following proves that FDR's plan was not the panacea it is often thought to have been. It's clear that the New Deal was an immediate, positive burst out of a Depression, but harder to say how much positive impact it had beyond that. Could it have worked better? Could another dip a few years later have been avoided somehow? Who knows. What history remembers is that the United States was in much better shape in 1934 than it was in 1932, and that a few years after that, an unprecedented war would change the game once again.
The New Orleans Hornets are a team not unfamiliar with adversity. After the tragic Hurricane Katrina (geez, what timing) struck their city in August 2005, the Hornets temporarily relocated to Oklahoma City. Although attendance was significantly higher in OKC than in the 2004-2005 season in New Orleans, they were still a team without a real home. It couldn't have been easy for anyone in the organization to deal with an additional level of transience. Upon returning to New Orleans in 2007-2008, the Hornets had a triumphant season, winning the Southwest Division, going to the second round of the playoffs and playing the role of host team for a celebration-filled All-Star weekend. This resiliency came on the back of Chris Paul, the best player the Hornets have ever had. For those first couple seasons back in NOLA, with him in control, things had a bit of a Roaring '20s kind of feel.
But then, before last season, heartache came again when Paul demanded a trade and was shipped off to the Clippers in exchange for Eric Gordon, Chris Kaman, Al-Farouq Amino and a draft pick. Those are fine enough players, but even as a package, those guys can't come close to matching the impact of the top point guard in the league. It was a rough year for the Hornets, who finished 21-45, good for the worst record in the Western Conference. The dancing days were over and things looked as dark and depressing as the Hoover years.
The bright side of that season was, of course, the fact that the Hornets won the draft lottery and were granted the first pick this past June. With it, they made the only decision possible: Draft Anthony Davis. Davis is a Big Idea of a player, a defensive monster who has the potential to change the way the game is played on that end. All of New Orleans' chips are down on him—he is their New Deal.
The trendy prediction over the last few months seems to be that Davis will be a bust, that he doesn't have the offensive weapons or a strong enough body to be a true franchise player in the NBA. [Ed. - I've not seen this predictions.] Don't believe the anti-hype. We've never seen a player who can cover so much ground as quickly or with as much length as Davis can. Opponents of the Kentucky Wildcats who thought they had open perimeter shots quickly found out that when playing against AD, there is really no such thing. He will get there, and he will likely keep the ball in bounds to set up a transition basket.
I have faith in this man, but he won't be able to do it all himself. Luckily, the Hornets are already starting to build a solid supporting cast. Gordon has a lot of potential and if he stays healthy, he could become an All-Star level shooting guard. Offseason acquisitions Robin Lopez and Ryan Anderson are nice pieces: Lopez should be a good, experienced backup for Davis and Anderson has shown that he is one of the league's most dangerous outside threats. Things will get interesting at the point guard position, where Greivis Vasquez will have to fight off what I think will be a serious starting rotation threat from Austin Rivers. The team is noticeably weak at the three, with Aminu currently in possession of the starting spot over Hakim Warrick and another Kentucky rookie, Darius Miller. Miller, a four-year Wildcat and last year's SEC Sixth Man of the Year, may be starting before long.
The Hornets dumped a lot of players before this season, most notably Kaman, Trevor Ariza and Gustavo Ayon. If you take Davis out of the equation, they would be a weaker team than last year. With him there, though, they are a team not to ignore, one that has an outside but legitimate chance at a playoff spot. While there's some debate about how much credit we can give FDR's New Deal, if the Hornets can become a serious player in the West, there will be no question that Davis is the man to thank.
Rushed Pull-Up Jumpers
Headline we'll be most sick of reading: "Davis Had a Bad Game: Is He a Bust?"
Headline we're most looking forward to: "Anonymous Angel Donates Knees to Eric Gordon"
If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you enter the pearly gates?: "What's up with the t-shirt under the jersey? Are you ashamed of what I gave you?"