I never thought I'd say this, but the NBA lottery managed to finally get it right this time around (maybe too right).
Instead of rewarding the "tankerous" teams that stubbornly and purposefully trudged their way to shamefully embarrassing regular season records, the basketball gods fittingly handed the 1st pick in the 2012 NBA draft to the New Orleans Hornets, an up and coming franchise that fought hard throughout their entire 2012 regular season campaign.

With young talent in Jarrett Jack, Eric Gordon, and Chris Kaman, as well as a great coach in Monty Williams, the rebuilding Hornets have waited patiently (since CP3 was selected in '05) for an opportunity to add more youth, more athleticism, and more talent to their roster that they can hopefully build their future around.

Well Hornets fans, that opportunity might finally be knocking.

Clearly, a coveted top-draft pick in a widely reported deep draft class couldn't have come at a better time for a team with playoff ambitions that is primed for a successful franchise revamp.  However, with or without a lottery pick, the Hornets are still a couple seasons away from a postseason appearance.

Just to refresh your memory, NOLA finished dead last in the West this year with an extremely unimpressive 21-45 record.  Although they fought hard and competed with some top-tier teams, the Hornets were a "work in progress" following the Chris Paul exile out of the bayou.

Similarly to other small market squads that lost their superstars to bigger media markets and bigger contracts over recent years, the future of the Hornets now depends on the proficiency of their front office to play the NBA's version of "moneyball."

Even though, Monty Williams has already proven himself to be a great basketball mind and a superb motivator, the NOLA front office needs to go out and get more talent that will fit into Monty's system without overextending their budget.
Either way, a first round lottery pick is a surefire way to start, or continue, a promising franchise facelift, given that you make smart, educated draft picks.

Take notes Mike!

Anyways, NBA franchise facelifts tend to come in only two varieties these days:

1. The "Overnight" Rebuild Method
- This method employs a strategy where a combination of cap room, big-time contracts, and desirable media markets attract big name talent via free agency or player-requested trades, and turn mediocre squads into championship contenders overnight.  (MIA, BOS, NYK, LAC, LAL, DAL)

2. The "Over Time" Rebuild Method
- This strategy utilizes NBA player scouting, personnel development, draft picks, timely trades, and pivotal contract extensions in order to build and maintain team personnel, as well as a team culture, that revolves around the same franchise goals.  The "Over Time" Method tends to take longer than the "overnight" method and caters to smaller market franchises that lack the finances to attract bigger names in free agency. (MIN, OKC, SAS, MEM, IND)

Coincidentally enough, the NBA is currently showcasing two smaller market teams in the Western Finals that utilized the "over time" method whereas the battle out East showcases two larger market franchises that remodeled their squads "overnight."

The strangest thing about this whole dynamic is that according to NBA experts, the Spurs, a smaller market, rebuilt "over time" squad, is the clear frontrunner for the NBA title this season.

Coincidentally enough, several seasons ago the Spurs were in the exact same position as the Hornets.

They had suffered through a sub-par '96-'97 season plagued with injuries and inexperience, and when opportunity came a-knocking in the form of a lottery pick, they took complete advantage of it.

They picked Tim Duncan with the first pick of the 1997 draft, setting the table for the Spurs' continued dedication to future championships.

Just two years after drafting Duncan, the Spurs won the Title and made a draft day steal by picking up Manu Ginobili with the 57th overall pick in the '99 draft.

In 2001, the Spurs found themselves sitting once again in front of the NBA draft board with an arguably unfavorable draft spot.  This time around, they were eying the 28th pick in a very thin draft class, and they ended up choosing a young, untested French PG named Tony Parker. 

Three titles later (on the cusp of a 4th), I can honestly say that the Parker and Ginobili first/second round picks may have been the two smartest draft picks of the last decade minus David Lee (selected 30th in 2005 by NYK) or Mo Williams (selected 47th overall by UTA).

Since SAS drafted Duncan in '97, the Spurs have won 4 NBA titles and have yet to miss the postseason in 15 seasons.

Similarly to SAS, OKC utilized their team personnel and talent scouts to build their squad through the NBA draft as well. 

Matt Silverston is a columnist for FootBasket. He also runs the basketball blog, Mind of Mattman. You can also follow him on Twitter.


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