The NBA Draft is set for Thursday night and it may be your last bit of basketball for awhile. The league and player association are meeting to flesh out a new collective bargaining agreement, what with the old one set to expire June 30.

That said, it's nice sometimes to get a view from the outside of what folks expect and want out of the Hornets. Sometimes we and by we, I mean writers are too close to the subjects and need to pull back some.

So that's why we brought in Ryan Schwan of the blog Hornets 24/7. If you follow the Hornets and don't go to the website he's a part of, you're missing out. It's one of the better ones in the area devoted to the Hornets. They send out a gaggle of guys to cover games and events and are on top of transactions throughout the year.

Here's a brief bio for Schwan:
'Ryan Schwanwrites for the blog, which is part of ESPN's Truehoop Network. He has covered the Hornetssince 2008 and has contributed to, and Slam Magazine. He loves advanced stats, thinks trading Chris Paul would be sacrilege, and will fix you with a cold glare if you mention Baron Davis in his presence.'

Now let's fix our attention to the following Q & A. Schwan gives some dandy answers to our dandy questions. The Hornets have only one pick this year, No 45 in the second round. You can get good value in the second round, but is this too deep to get a true contributor?

RYAN SCHWAN:Thereare usually a half-dozen or so successful selectionsin the second round of the NBA draft, and theHornets experienceda raresuccess just a couple years ago with the selection ofMarcus Thornton.However, the second round in the NBA is anything but a sure thing. According to my research, since 1984, the 45th pick has yieldedseven players who have played more than a handful of minutes in the NBA, which meansit's more likely this pick will do nothing for the Hornets than produce a contributor.

Weirdly, the 45th pick has a better track record at producing usable NBA talent thanany other pick in the second round.Sothe Hornetsat least have a better chance of getting a contributor than anyone else in the second round . . . unless you believe in the law of averages.Let's keep with the happy thoughts . . . Speaking of needs, which we haven't yet, let's talk about needs. What do you see as the hole(s) the Hornets need to fill?

SCHWAN: As of right now, the Hornets only have five players under contract, and they needdepth everywhere but at point guard.Personally, I'd like to see them grab a shooting guard or small forward, sincethe Hornets got the least amount of production from those positions last year, but if there's abig man availablethat has a prayer of contributing, they shouldn't hesitate in snapping him up. Tall people are rare.

WWLTV.COM: The Hornets did have a first-round pick, but traded it to Portland for point guard Jerryd Bayless...who they traded to Toronto along with Peja Stojakovic for Jarrett Jack and David Andersen (and Marcus Banks, who never dressed). Looking back, was this a good trade in your eyes?

SCHWAN: Most of the scouts and draft experts have declared this to bea very poor draft.The 19th pick in the draft pans out with a rotation player about 40% of the time and agood to great player8% of the time. Me? I'd takea fringe starter in Jarrett Jack (which is what the trades boil down to at this point) for a40% chance at someonewho could end up like Jarrett Jack.

WWLTV.COM: The Hornets have two players they can issue qualifying offers to (Jason Smith and Marco Belinelli), two more with player options (David West and Aaron Gray) and another with a team option (Andersen). How do you expect it to play out with all five of these guys?

SCHWAN:I expect the team to not exercise their option on Andersen, whom they used extremely sparingly last year. He's not worth more than the veteran's minimum, and he's slated to make two and a half times that. I don't expect Jason Smith to receive a Qualifying offer either, for much the same reason. The league specifieshis qualifying offer would need to be about $3 million and he's could probably be brought back much cheaper that that if the Hornets still want him on the roster.

I expect Aaron Gray to opt out of his player option and become a free agent. He played well enough in the playoffs that someone will offer him more than the near-minimum contract he's being paid right now. Usable backup centers don't grow on trees. He can get paid more.

David West also falls into the samecategory as Aaron Gray. He may have suffered a season ending injury, but his player option is for$7.5 million. A player capable of putting up 20 points and 8 rebounds a game generally makesabout 50% more than that. Even withhim being on thewrong side of 30 andconcerns about his injury, there is no way he won't get a contractaveraging more than $7.5 million a year from some team.Even ifsomething shocking happens and he can't get an offer for more than$7.5, if he even signs for a 2-year$12 million deal, he's still guaranteed himself more money than he's guaranteed now.

The last player, Marco Belinelli,may be a 50-50 proposition.His qualifying offer of$3 million is probably about what he'd be worth on the open market, so it would make sense to extend that offer to him. However,GM Dell Demps may value having that extra $3 million in cap room to sign or trade for amore expensive and productive player. What happens with Belli over the next nine days interests me greatly.

WWLTV.COM: From a fan's perspective, are the Hornets doing enough to keep the community's interest in regard to on-the-court moves?

SCHWAN:They are trying, but they are facing an up-hill battle right now. There's a looming lockout, and it'salso somewhatdifficult to get people excited for a draft where their team only gets a 45th pick. I will say this, however, 'Dealer' Dell Demps, from the moment he took over in New Orleans, has never hesitated to pull the triggerand he's consistently been willing to spend future assets to improve the team right now and make it appealing to Chris Paul in the long run. Somehow, I don't expect Draft night to go by without Demps making some sort of move - either to acquire one of the 'young veterans' he covets so much - or to simply move up in the draft and grab a player who fits his philosophy of hard work and defense first.

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