Now that it’s June and the Finals are set, it’s time to start going full bore into draft preparation. The Charlotte Hornets will have the 9th, 24th and 45th picks.
When looking at NBA drafts the picks usually fall into tiers. The first pick or two are ideally franchise/superstar level players. The 3rd to 5th or 6th will then ideally be All-Star caliber players. Down to about the 12th pick will hopefully be starter caliber. Between the 12th and 20th pick you start looking at bench/role players with niche skills. After the 20th generally it becomes a crap shoot and it’s more role players, upside picks, players with red flags etc. Obviously this is a broad generalization but generally speaking this is how a standard draft looks.
Based on the projections for this draft however, you can take this framework and throw it out the window. Depending on how you feel about Dante Exum the first tier could go 4 deep or it could just be Joel Embiid if you’re Bill Simmons. As far as All-Star level talent goes, the cut-off then according to most projections is at the 7th pick (or 8th depending on how you feel about Aaron Gordon). Quality starters will fall into the late teens or even twenties and the rotation pieces could potentially go the rest of the first round or at least into the mid/late twenties.
Charlotte then falls right outside of the All-Star level talent and will then have a top pick of the starter level tier which creates an important decision for the Hornets. Potentially one of the 5-7 could fall to the Hornets at the 9th spot, but that would either be a power forward in Julius Randle or Noah Vonleh or a non-outside threat point guard in Marcus Smart: neither of which are needs for the team. Based on the Hornets’ recent history of picks, there’s a decent chance that this pick will be underwhelming. In which case, instead of gambling on another young player, might it be better to try and trade the pick for a proven veteran who can help the team make a bigger splash in the playoffs?
The Hornets’ biggest need is scoring production from the wing position (shooting guard/small forward) because Gerald Henderson has limited range and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist hasn’t been a big contributor. Personally, I’m more of a fan of trying to find scoring and size at the small forward position and then bringing MKG off of the bench to hound smaller wings than upgrading on Henderson who can score somewhat. The Hornets also have Gary Neal and could resign Ramon Sessions, who has expressed interest in returning, to have competent depth in the backcourt.
Here are some potential players that I think would be worth a look:
Nicholas Batum: Portland’s core is older than most people realize and the second round is probably about as far as they can go in the West. Getting someone like Nik Stauskas could be good at helping this team get quality talent on the rookie scale and give them more freedom to pursue other targets. Batum is a ball-busting defender and a jack-of-all-trades type player. He could stretch the floor, make smart passes and play solid defense; which makes him a great fit on any team but especially the Hornets
Chandler Parsons: Parsons is coming up on a team-option this summer. If Rockets exercise it, he’ll be an unrestricted free agent and if they don’t he’ll be a restricted one this summer. When he’s up for his next deal he’ll be looking for a big pay day. Based on his numbers he could make a good argument for a large contract, but for a team like the Rockets who still seem to be looking for a third star, Parsons probably is not of that caliber. Charlotte on the other hand is the kind of small market team that needs to overpay for quality talent (Al Jefferson) and Parsons would fit the bill. Personality wise, he’s probably looking for a bigger market but depending on the offer would probably have to give a hard look at Charlotte.
Arron Afflalo: Assuming Orlando takes Dante Exum with the 4th pick, there might not be as many minutes in the backcourt rotation for Afflalo who ranks as one of the top shooting guards in the league and was a borderline All-Star this year. With the 9th pick Orlando could package it with their 12th pick and try and acquire a rim-protector to put next to Nikola Vucevic or they could keep them and go super young. Afflalo would essentially be an upgrade in shooting over Henderson and would solidify the Hornets at shooting guard.
Jeff Green: If Boston is going hard after Kevin Love they may need one more pick to make their offer the most appealing for Minnesota and throwing the 9th pick in their could probably do that. Jeff Green can be hit or miss offensively but he’s got the size that MKG lacks which would be really helpful in terms of defending the bigger players at the position.
Of course when draft night comes around projected picks will go out the window as trades are announced but as we stand right now I think these could be good moves for the team. As for who the Hornets could take with their picks if they keep them, that will be looked at next week. Otherwise, what are some other good trade candidates/how and where am I terribly wrong?