How much better does Anthony Davis make the Hornets?

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In our instant world — where we can download almost any song ever written in seconds, where even our oatmeal is instant — we don’t like to wait for things. If it takes more than three clicks I’m frustrated.

But building an NBA team to contention is an exercise in patience. Well, except in Miami. But that’s the exception, usually teams are built more like Oklahoma City — draft well, make some trades and try to bring together a team that will grow into a contender.

That is what’s happening in New Orleans. That is what this draft and getting Anthony Davis means in the Big Easy — the Hornets are not going to be good next season, but there is a path to future contender laid out now. The foundation is there.

The hardest thing to acquire in building a contender is the franchise player. There just are not a lot of LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant kind of guys out there. Bobcats general manager Rich Cho says with his rating system he thinks there are fewer than 10 true franchise guys in the NBA right now.

Anthony Davis could be one of those guys.

You never know with a draft pick, there’s always risk, but Davis has graded out with scouts as well as anybody coming out of college in years. He is long, athletic, thinks defense first, is efficient on offense (he had the highest PER in college last year) and he has a good work ethic. He could be the franchise anchor that gives New Orleans a defensive stopper and a rebounder, plus he can score and his offensive game will improve.

New Orleans also has Eric Gordon, probably the best young two-guard in the game. He came to them as part of the Chris Paul trade and if you forgot how good he is remember how important he became for Team USA at the FIBA World Championships in Turkey. That was Durant’s team, but Gordon’s role really grew through the tournament.

After this draft (also with the No. 10 pick) the Hornets will have a core of players they can start to build around. They have a coach in Monty Williams who last season got a weak roster to play hard, defend and get the most out of what they have. They have a very smart GM in Dell Demps.

The Hornets will come out of this draft with the foundation of a future contender. It’s a long way to go to get there, but New Orleans has the path to the title.

And that is a great place to be as a fan, if you can just be patient.

LeBron James says he has scratched cornea, could sit Saturday vs. Wizards

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With time running down in the third quarter, LeBron James went hard to the basket for a layup, and the shot was contested by Jeremy Lamb, who ended up poking LeBron in the eye on the play.

It isn’t intentional, but it looks painful.

 

 

That blow could have LeBron sitting out Saturday night when the Cavaliers take on the Washington Wizards in Cleveland. From Joe Varden of the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

LeBron James said he suffered a scratched cornea in his right eye in Friday’s 112-105 win over Charlotte after being examined by a Hornets team physician.

James, who scored 32 points in 40 minutes, could not keep his right eye open during his postgame interview session and said his vision was blurry… Summing it all up, James said “if coach decides to give me a game off (Saturday), it’s not because I’m resting. It’s because I’m banged up.”

He was treated by the Hornets’ team doctor who administered eye drops, but the Cavaliers will make the call closer to game time depending on how LeBron is feeling.

The Cavaliers are 0-6 without LeBron this season. They also have just a one-game lead over the Celtics for the top seed in the Eastern Conference. (Boston beat Phoenix on Friday, despite Devin Booker dropping 70, and they have a key game with the Heat on Sunday.) That said, the Cavaliers are two games up in the loss column on the Celtics, which is a decent lead, but the Cavs need to start winning consistently.

And beating a hot Washington team will not be easy even with LeBron.

NBA reacts to Suns’ Devin Booker dropping 70 on Celtics

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Devin Booker was the story of the NBA Friday night.

The 20-year-old Suns’ guard — who never scored more than 19 points in a game at Kentucky in college — dropped 70 on the Boston Celtics in a losing effort. He becomes only the sixth player in NBA history to score at least 70 in a game. At the end the Suns were fouling and calling time outs to stop the clock and get the ball back to Booker, but as Phoenix coach Earl Watson said to those who complained, “You got a problem with that? Do something. Simple as that.”

NBA Twitter exploded at what Booker did.

Booker himself responded this way.

Lonzo Ball makes expected official, declares for NBA Draft

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There was no hesitation. None was expected.

After UCLA was eliminated from the NCAA Tournament in the Sweet 16 by Kentucky, the Bruin’s Lonzo Ball — who is expected to be a top-three pick — declared for the NBA draft this June.

Ball is expected to go second or third in the upcoming NBA draft. Speaking with people around the league Washington’s Markelle Fultz is a clear No. 1, but after that if the Lakers — the team with the second-worst record in the league — have the No. 2 pick they are expected to snap up Ball. Depending on how the lottery shakes out the top of the draft, Ball could fall a little — there are teams that like Josh Jackson — but not much.

Ball is a 6’6″ point guard who averaged 14.7 points, 7.6 assists and 6.1 rebounds a game for UCLA last season. He has fantastic passing vision, impressive shooting range (although he can take some questionable shots), and a great sense of floor spacing and how to run an offense, particularly in transition. However, his weaknesses were exposed in his final game some as De’Aaron Fox of Kentucky completely outplayed Ball. Defensive pressure took Ball (and the Bruins) out of rhythm, forced them to play in the half court (where Ball is not as strong), and it’s one of the things Ball is going to have to adapt to at the next level where everyone is more athletic. Also, he’s going to need to get more consistent defensively.

The potential for Ball to be special is there, which is why he will go high in the draft.

And no, the rantings of his father will not change that. Teams see the father as a distraction that can be handled, they aren’t going to let him get in the way of drafting talent.

Watch highlights of Shaquille O’Neal’s statue unveiling outside Staples Center

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Kobe Bryant said “Thank you. I learned so much from you as a player.”

Jerry West said he loved him like a son.

Jeanie Buss said “No one celebrates a championship like you, but please no more asking Mark Madsen to dance.”

The Lakers unveiled a new statue for Shaquille O’Neal Friday night, one flying high over a Staples Center entrance, and the stars were on hand for the event. Phil Jackson was there making Snoop Dogg jokes. Shaq and Kobe were sharing laughs. It was a big night for a big man with a big personality. And a big heart.

Check out the highlights above.