Hornets win NBA Draft lottery

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Hornets win NBA Draft lottery

NEW YORK -- New owner, and now a new star player coming to New Orleans.

And yet another loss -- in a historic season full of them -- for Michael Jordan and the Charlotte Bobcats.

The Hornets, recently sold by the NBA to New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson, won the NBA's draft lottery Wednesday and the No. 1 pick overall -- which they almost certainly will use to pick Kentucky star Anthony Davis.

At least that's what the consensus college player of the year is expecting. Moments after the Hornets won the lottery, Davis said he was looking forward to playing professionally in the place where he led the Wildcats to a national championship in April.

The good news for the Hornets comes after a difficult season in which they traded All-Star Chris Paul.

"Just a first step for us to winning it all," Benson said in a TV interview after the lottery.

The Hornets moved up from the fourth spot, where they had a 13.7 percent chance, to earn the pick.

"Everything was surreal once they announced the fourth pick," said Hornets coach Monty Williams, who represented the team on stage. "I said, 'This is pretty cool.' I knew my wife and kids were home praying that things would go well and they did."

The Bobcats, after going 7-59 for the worst winning percentage in NBA history, fell to the No. 2 pick. Washington will pick third and Cleveland fell one spot to fourth.

Charlotte had a 25 percent chance of grabbing the No. 1 pick, but instead will have to take the best player after Davis, possibly his teammate, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.

The team with the worst record hasn't won since Orlando drafted Dwight Howard in 2004.

"We will still take the best player available and when you win seven games you have a lot of holes," Bobcats general manager Rich Cho said. "From a competitive standpoint and for anyone who has played sports or been competitive, you want to win and be No. 1. We know we're still going to get a good player."

Cho and team vice chairman Curtis Polk said they hadn't heard from Jordan, the Bobcats owner.

"Being No. 2 isn't terrible. We'll be fine," Polk said.

The league bought the Hornets from owner George Shinn in December 2010 and the sale to Benson was completed in April. The NBA was criticized for the conflict of interest of a league owning a franchise, particularly when commissioner David Stern blocked a trade that would have sent Paul to the Lakers in December, then approved another that landed Paul with the Clippers.

The ownership uncertainty hindered the Hornets, but they were in a celebrating mood Wednesday after earning the No. 1 pick for the first time since 1991, when they were still in Charlotte and took Larry Johnson.

General manager Dell Demps said he pumped his first in the room where the drawing took place after seeing that the balls had been drawn in the Hornets' favor.

"When our combination came up, it was an exciting feeling," he said. "I got an incredible rush. ... We knew what the odds were. We hoped for the best. It was nothing we could control. We're just happy."

The Hornets, who went 21-45, also have the No. 10 pick. They played hard at the end of the season even as it reduced their lottery odds, winning eight of their final 13 games with a young roster.

"Obviously, we're very excited," Demps said. "This is a great day for the city of New Orleans, our fans. ... This is the start of a new beginning."

Though they didn't officially say it, it's expected to start with Davis, one of the most dominant defensive college players in years who was Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four even as he went 1 for 10 from the field in the championship game. He blocked a record-tying six shots and had 16 rebounds and three steals in the Wildcats' 67-59 victory over Kansas.

"Davis is not LeBron. He's not Tim (Duncan). But they were young once and Tim had four years of college," Williams said.

The Nets were the other big loser when they stayed in the No. 6 spot. They owed their pick to Portland for this season's Gerald Wallace trade unless they moved into the top three.

The Cavs beat the odds last year and moved up to take Kyrie Irving, the eventual Rookie of the Year, and tried to follow the same formula. Nick Gilbert, the 15-year-old son of owner Dan Gilbert, was back on the podium in his bow tie, and the Cavs' traveling party that included Dan Gilbert, and former Browns quarterback Bernie Kosar and current Browns players Josh Cribbs and Joe Haden sported the same dress.

But there was no repeat, as the Cavs went backward this time.

"Still feel very good about (number)4 pick," Dan Gilbert wrote on his Twitter page. "We are getting a great player there and good additions wour other 3 picks. I believe."

Sacramento rounds out the top five of the draft, to be held June 28 in Newark, N.J.

2016-17 Bulls player preview: Isaiah Canaan

2016-17 Bulls player preview: Isaiah Canaan

Chicago Bulls training camp is right around the corner, with the first preseason game coming Oct. 3 against the Milwaukee Bucks. Between then and now, CSNChicago.com will take a look at each player on the Bulls’ roster to preview and possibly project their importance to the team as the Bulls hope to qualify for the 2017 NBA Playoffs.

Player: Isaiah Canaan

Position: Point Guard/Shooting guard

Experience: 4th season

2015-16 stats: 11.0 points, 1.8 rebounds

2016-17 Outlook: It’ll be a game of musical chairs in the Bulls’ backcourt this season with the backup positions and Canaan will be in the mix for playing time at both positions, despite his small 6-foot-0 frame.

He’s more scorer than facilitator and looks for his offense, being aggressive in the pick and roll and in the open floor. It could be a change of pace from Rajon Rondo’s style, as Rondo can push the pace but will definitely be in control. If Canaan beats out Jerian Grant, Spencer Dinwiddie and Denzel Valentine for minutes, he’s going to play at a breakneck speed, looking to force the action and reacquainting himself with a familiar statistic: Field Goals Attempted.

Per 36 minutes last year, he took 13.2 shots and nearly nine of them came from the 3-point line, which accounts for his career shooting percentage being below 37, as he gets up a huge bulk from the long line.

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Having spent the majority of his career with the then-tanking Philadelphia 76ers, Canaan’s value is hard to project and one wonders if he’s gotten accustomed to losing environments.

In Philly, though, he was able to get plenty of experience, playing 77 games last season in what was probably as eye-opening for him as anything he’s ever endured in the NBA.

With the depth, though, seeing the above-mentioned players likely being ahead of him in the rotation means the Bulls won’t be as dependent on him for wins — but during those dog days of the season, when the injuries can pile up and the excitement is low, one wonders if Fred Hoiberg can toss Canaan out there and his energy can help the Bulls to a win or two in February — which could come handy in April when all wins matter if you’re trying to compete for a playoff spot.

2016-17 Bulls player preview: Doug McDermott

2016-17 Bulls player preview: Doug McDermott

Chicago Bulls training camp is right around the corner, with the first preseason game coming Oct. 3 against the Milwaukee Bucks. Between then and now, CSNChicago.com will take a look at each player on the Bulls’ roster to preview and possibly project their importance to the team as the Bulls hope to qualify for the 2017 NBA Playoffs.

Player: Doug McDermott

Position: Small Forward

Experience: 3rd season

2015-16 Stats: 9.4 points, 2.5 rebounds

2016-17 Outlook: It’s been a steady progression for Doug McDermott from his rookie year to last season, as he’s symbolic of what Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg wants his system to be: A floor-spreading, free-wheeling wide open system, one that displays the new reality of the NBA.

McDermott, at times last season, showed his proficiency despite his limitations. Few were better from the 3-point line, as he shot 42.5 percent, ranking fifth in the NBA. In semi-transition, he was a sure bet to spot up from the left wing and position himself for a pass and quick release.

With Jimmy Butler, Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo all able to make plays, McDermott will be counted on more than he has before to make shots with space at a premium.

McDermott and Nikola Mirotic will have to provide the shooting to keep defenses honest, which could lead to McDermott being the first sub off the bench for a guy like Wade or Butler, leaving the latter to anchor the second unit in the second quarter.

His game opened up last season after the All-Star break, especially with his ability to create his own shot. It’s not a staple of his game and who knows how much he’ll have to use it with the ballhandlers on the floor, but he did have a reliable baseline fadeaway and one-legged runner he would go to every once in awhile.

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The Bulls’ offense ran better with him on the floor, averaging 116 points per 100 possessions. February produced his best month as a pro, averaging nearly 15 a game on 52 percent shooting—splits that could be more common as his career progresses. But what he gives, he often gives away on the defensive end and it’ll be a battle to keep him on the floor with some of the concerns the team will have as a whole.

Keeping players in front of him with his lateral movement is an issue, and even being in the right place defensively off the ball isn’t a given. But a lot of that is scheme and the Bulls have to be better collectively.

Expecting him to take another step this season as he knows what to expect and gains more confidence in his own game isn’t unreasonable—and finding consistency will be important to his future in the league, as he’ll be eligible for an extension following his third season.

In other words, there’s plenty of tangible and intangible incentive to improve.