Hornets have plenty of options
By JAMES JONES
The New Orleans Hornets need offensive firepower to improve their chances of making the NBA playoffs next season.
With two first-round selections in Wednesday's NBA draft, New Orleans could find its missing pieces. The Hornets have a lottery pick at No. 12 and No. 15 overall selection obtained from the Milwaukee Bucks for center Jamaal Magloire.
The Hornets (38-43) have holes at center and shooting guard, two positions which kept them from earning a No. 8 seed in the Western Conference playoffs.
New Orleans officials discussed their options to challenge the Denver Nuggets, Memphis Grizzlies, Los Angeles Lakers and Sacramento Kings for a playoff berth.
"We need to add a couple of shooters and get a guy who is a big-time nasty player, a physical presence inside," Hornets coach Byron Scott said. "We've got options, which is a good thing."
Most of the Internet mock drafts, HoopsHype.com, ESPNinsider.com and Nbadraft.net, have New Orleans picking North Carolina State forward Cedric Simmons in the late lottery.
The 6-foot-10 Simmons worked out for the Hornets earlier this month, and made a great impression. New Orleans and N.C. State both run variations of the Princeton offense, which would make an easy transition as a rookie.
"We ran something similar in college," Simmons said. "I'd be familiar with the offensive sets, everything and be able to pick up things quickly."
The mock drafts are divided on what New Orleans does with its second first-round pick. Swingmen Ronnie Brewer (Arkansas) and Rodney Carney (Memphis) are both strong possibilities.
Carney, the Tigers' most prolific 3-point shooter last season, would make an immediate impact in New Orleans. The Hornets could use his long-range shooting.
Chad Ford, who covers the NBA draft for ESPNinsider.com, wrote this month that "The Hornets would be psyched if Carney was still on the board at the 15th pick."
"I shoot the ball well," Carney said. "Everyone says I'm the best athlete in the draft, but they don't know I can shoot the ball as well as I do. I need to work on my one-on-one skills, and I'll be straight. I can handle the ball O.K. and pretty well for my size, but it can be better."
The Hornets also have a second-round pick, the 43rd overall selection, to add depth. UCLA 7-footer Ryan Hollins will be available, according to many of the mock drafts. Hollins was a key player in the Bruins' drive to the NCAA championship game in April.
What: NBA Draft
When: Wednesday, 6:30 p.m.
Where: New York