COMMENTARY | With the 21-41 New Orleans Hornets sitting near the bottom of the Western Conference standings, fans are already looking ahead to the 2013-14 season. Potential free agent signings and possible draft picks are generating just as much buzz in New Orleans as the Hornets' poor play.
However, an often-overlooked part of building a winning pro sports franchise is making wise decisions about the current roster. Should teams give young, struggling players more time to mature? Are there comparable players available for less money? Should teams build around talented, but injury-prone players?
On a scale of 1-10 (1 being least likely and 10 being most likely) how likely is each current Hornets player to be wearing a Pelicans jersey in the 2013-14 NBA season?
Anthony Davis: 10
Anthony Davis is the future of the Hornets. He's not leaving New Orleans anytime soon.
Are there better NBA point guards than Greivis Vasquez? Absolutely. Are there better NBA point guards who will earn less than $2.1 million (Vasquez's 2013-14 contract figure) next season? Absolutely not.
Ryan Anderson: 7.5
Ryan Anderson has clearly been one of the Hornets' best players this season. The fact that he and Davis both play power forward is the only thing that could cause New Orleans to use him as trade bait for another position.
Despite his early struggles, Austin Rivers was improving for the Hornets before breaking his hand. The Hornets organization clearly believes in him and won't cut or demote him. And who would trade for him?
Robin Lopez: 6
The 2013-14 Pelicans will be well under the NBA salary cap and may look to acquire an upgrade at center. However, New Orleans has greater needs at small forward and shooting guard, which may see Lopez return.
Al-Farouq Aminu: 6
The Hornets clearly need more production at small forward and will likely seek another starter at this position. If Aminu does stay in New Orleans, he will probably come off the bench in 2013-14.
Jason Smith: 6
After playing most of the season for New Orleans with a torn labrum, Jason Smith earned major brownie points with Monty Williams. But the Hornets' need for a more physical frontcourt player may trump Williams' loyalty.
Roger Mason: 4
I'm sure the Hornets would love to bring back an experienced guard who shoots 42.4 percent from behind the arc. But Roger Mason probably showed enough this year to sign a bigger contract with a better team in 2013-14.
Eric Gordon: 3
The Hornets' treatment of Eric Gordon is like a driver who gets lost, but won't ask for directions. From Gordon's injury woes to his disappearing acts in the fourth quarter, it's time for New Orleans to admit its mistake and move on.
Brian Roberts: 3
Brian Roberts isn't a bad NBA point guard. The problem is he plays a similar style to New Orleans' starting point guard. If Vasquez isn't quick enough to run fast breaks, his backup needs to provide that spark off the bench.
Lance Thomas: 2
Lance Thomas has been an inspiration for D-League players given how long he's played in New Orleans after getting called up. However, his offensive skills are very limited and the Pelicans need more firepower in 2013-14.
Darius Miller: 2
The fact that Darius Miller has gotten so little playing time in this Hornets' rebuilding season is telling. If New Orleans isn't ready to give up on Miller completely in 2013-14, then look for him to log considerable time in the D-League.
Xavier Henry: 1
This former NBA lottery pick has received numerous opportunities to prove himself. Xavier Henry will be fortunate to be on any 2013-14 NBA roster.
Henry Sims: not enough data
Terrel Harris: not enough data
Patrick Michael was born in New Orleans and currently resides in the Big Easy. Patrick has followed the Hornets since they moved to New Orleans and has covered the team since 2010. He was in attendance the night the Hornets were one win away from the Western Conference Finals. Follow Patrick Michael on Twitter at patmichael84.
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