Hornets a better team going forward?

Essentials

  • Teams: Detroit Pistons (23-37) at New Orleans Hornets (20-39)
  • Date: March 1, 2013
  • Time: 8:00 p.m.
  • Television: FSD

What to look for

The Detroit Pistons will resume their three-game road trip tonight with a stop in Louisiana to face the New Orleans Hornets. The contest away from home is going to raise an uncomfortable question for the Detroit faithful: which roster is preferable going forward?

One might be inclined to immediately side with Detroit given the presence of a potential elite big man in Greg Monroe coupled with the ever-promising Andre Drummond.

The Georgetown product should at least remain a Piston until the summer of 2015 while Drummond is a sure bet to remain with the franchise until the 2017 offseason.

Also, Brandon Knight has shown flashes of brilliance that suggest he may well become a top-flight lead guard one day and his qualifying offer would kick in for the 2015-16 season.

Jose Calderon may choose to stick around for the long haul, but he is projected to become a free agent at the end of this season and the Pistons are scheduled to have a bit of cap room to potentially spend on a player or two.

But here’s the tricky thing: the Hornets have roughly those same advantages if not more.

The Pistons have more victories than the Hornets, but their records are quite similar and the Hollinger Power Rankings indicate that Monty Williams’ team has played tougher opponents by virtue of the conference they compete in.

Things get interesting when we look at the Hornets’ salaries for the foreseeable future. Barring any trades, the core of Eric Gordon, Ryan Anderson and Anthony Davis will remain together until the summer of 2016.

Anthony Davis’ rookie deal would tentatively expire at the conclusion of the 2016-17, thus giving the franchise time to possibly surround him with more talent.

Keep in mind, New Orleans should in fact have as much cap room available this summer as Detroit. The Hornets’ future seems to include Greivis Vasquez (third in the league in assists per game) who is signed until the end of the 2014-15 season to a contract paying him peanuts in comparison to the NBA’s top assist leaders.

The New Orleans Hornets have a young roster, but all of the players will be given a chance to grow together as the team gains experience through trial and error.

The last point is particularly interesting given that they have been awful defensively this year, a fact that can be attributed to their youth and inexperience. Two seasons ago, Monty Williams’ defense was ranked in the top 10 (in terms of points allowed per 100 possessions) and progressively got worse as the roster became younger.

It stands to reason that he will once again be able to implement his sound principles with the team as they gain more experience and understand the finer details of NBA defenses.

Thus, it’s quite difficult to project for these Pistons to ascend more rapidly than these Hornets. The one wildcard in all of this though could be the strength or lack there of in the east.

The Milwaukee Bucks and Philadelphia 76ers will have some interesting summers this year given the players that will become free agents. It could potentially derail both teams or make them better.

Mind you, these very same potential free agents (Andrew Bynum, Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings) could also end up signing with other teams in the Eastern Conference that are fringe playoff contenders and consequently block Detroit’s path to ascension.

The Hornets may not look like much now, but in a very near future, they could become a team Pistons fans envy.

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