Do you ever pine for what might have been?
Do you ever wonder what would have happened if you had turned left instead of right? Gotten up the nerve to ask out that girl in high school? Followed a hunch and invested in Microsoft early?
The Charlotte Hornets will come face to face with what might have been for them on Tuesday night, when they play in New Orleans against the player they would have liked to have built this franchise around – Anthony Davis.
Charles Barkley said a few days ago that Davis has become the third-best player in the NBA, trailing only LeBron James and Kevin Durant. Davis is only 21.
And he could have been Charlotte’s.
I watched the May 30, 2012, NBA draft lottery again on YouTube Monday. There was Adam Silver, calling out the teams’ names until it got down to the final two. They were Charlotte, which had set an NBA record for ineptitude by going 7-59 the season before, and New Orleans (21-45).
Charlotte’s chance at the No. 1 spot going into the 14-team lottery was 25 percent – not great odds, but best in the league because of the team’s terrible record. New Orleans had a 13.7 percent shot.
Then Silver announced Charlotte at No. 2 and New Orleans at No. 1. Rich Cho, now Charlotte’s general manager, looked like he had just bitten into a lemon.
OK, so let’s play this out for a second. What if Charlotte had gotten Davis? What would this team look like right now?
It would look mostly the same at its core. Only Michael Kidd-Gilchrist – the player who Charlotte selected at No. 2 in 2012 – would be missing. MKG has not been a bust by any means and has become a solid starter, but he just doesn’t have Davis’ superstar ability.
Davis would be relatively cheap right now on the rookie wage scale. So the Hornets could still have signed Al Jefferson and had him play center. Davis is better as a power forward anyway – that’s why New Orleans signed center Omer Asik.
And Davis would take so much pressure off Jefferson on the defensive side that “Big Al” would be even more effective. The Hornets could still have signed Lance Stephenson. They could still have re-upped with Kemba Walker.
Along with MKG being gone, the Hornets would also likely be missing Marvin Williams if they had gotten to draft Davis because they wouldn’t have needed to invest that money. And that would be it.
Coach Steve Clifford overachieved with last year’s roster, winning 43 games. He correctly has diagnosed this season’s team – which is 1-2 after three straight thrillers to begin the season – as one that has “pretty good talent” but is far from an “offensive juggernaut.”
With Davis, though, everything would change. Instead of hoping to edge into the playoffs and maybe win a series, the Hornets would be competing with LeBron’s Cleveland squad for the Eastern Conference title.
In case you missed it, Davis had 26 points, 17 rebounds and nine blocks – yes, nine blocks – in New Orleans’ season-opening win. He followed that with 31 points, 15 rebounds and three blocks in the Pelicans’ second game.
He’s a monster, basically. Incredibly fluid for a big man. Hall of fame potential.
Unless you believe the NBA lottery conspiracy theories, it is nobody’s fault that MKG was the former Kentucky player that ended up in Charlotte rather than Davis. It was just the luck of the draw. Nothing can be done about it now.
But oh, what might have been.