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Charlotte Hornets NBA Draft Buzz — FINAL EDITION

We’re here. It’s draft day! It’s also the day everyone will hold their breath for ninety minutes in hopes of the USMNT advancing to the round-of-16 in the World Cup. What a day of sports. I’m thankful if I simply survive the emotional whirlwind that’s about to take place.

So, NBA Draft and the Charlotte Hornets. We’ve learned quite a bit since this time last week. Most notably, it sounds as if the Hornets front office may have promised Mitch McGary that they’d select him at #24 if he was still on the board. If this is true, surely Charlotte wanted to keep it quiet, but as usual ESPN’s Chad Ford is on top of it.

I believe the report. McGary missed all of last season at Michigan due to back surgery, but was an integral part of the National Championship appearance that the Wolverines made in 2012-13. If it’s true that the Hornets have made McGary a promise at #24, they obviously have zero concerns with his surgically repaired back, so try not to evaluate his injury history any further.



He’s a hustler, always sacrificing his body for the ball – McGary made a knack of treating every possession like it’s his last, which is always a plus. An exceptional pick-and-roll defender, sets bulldozer style ball-screens, and is a great passer for his size. McGary’s power + lateral quickness make him a versatile prospect at 6’10, 260 lbs. This would be a great pick for the Hornets at #24, putting a backup center behind Al Jefferson that’s ready to contribute on both ends of the floor right away. Of course, there’s always the possibility that a team ahead of Charlotte in the first round is high on McGary and takes him before the Hornets can strike, but this is as solid a report that we’ve received regarding what to expect Thursday night from the team. The seque into discussion surrounding the 9th pick is similar to waking up with a hangover and immediately taking an advanced calculus exam. More-or-less, it makes me want to take my pen and shove it in my ear. Too many unknowns at this stage, and that scares me. I remain posturing for the Hornets to select Nik Stauskas 9th as long as Aaron Gordon, Marcus Smart, Noah Vonleh, or Julius Randle aren’t available. My favorite quote about Stauskas: Western conference scout (Via The Boston Globe)

“He’s a lot like Klay Thompson in terms of body type and shooting. Thompson is a pretty good ballhandler, but I think Stauskas is even better with the ball and a better passer than Thompson — and Klay Thompson is a fringe All-Star player. I love Klay Thompson, but I think Stauskas could be that good. Stauskas is good, man. He’s good.”

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Is Stauskas a defensive concern? Yep, and no one is a stranger to that. That being said, when you evaluate this rosters biggest need – shooting, and then factor in that Stauskas is more skilled (passer, ball-handler) + two years younger than a guy like Doug McDermott. Well, I don’t quite grasp what the debate is. He fits perfectly in Charlotte. I would agree that McDermott is more prepared to come in and contribute offensively right away, but I’ll take the guy (Stauskas) who will give me something next season and has plenty of room for development at 20 years old. As of now, I’m giving Doug McDermott the edge to be selected 9th by Charlotte – 55% probability. Stauskas stands pat in second with a 25% chance of being selected 9th. Elfrid Payton (10%), Gary Harris (5%), and James Young (5%) round out who I believe the Hornets have on their big-board going into tonight. Don’t forget about Elfrid Payton. He’s the real dark horse for the Hornets going into tonight. ‘Draft for talent, trade / use free-agency to acquire need’ – this is along the lines of what mantra Rich Cho follows when it comes to building a roster. Chad Ford on Payton:

I think Elfrid Payton is the closest thing I’ve seen to a young Gary Payton. His body type, the way he plays the game, even his demeanor. This is a tough kid. A very, very tough kid.

Allow me to use an example to explain how Charlotte could select Payton at 9th: Sacramento at 8 is an absolute crapshoot. They don’t want to pick here, but if they’re forced to no one has any clue which direction they will go. If the Kings decided to take McDermott, who we’re guessing is first on the Hornets board, then Cho has to scramble to decide which ‘Plan B’ he’s more comfortable with. It could be taking the best-available player on the board and figure out how that guy fits with the roster later. That player very well may be Elfrid Payton. It could potentially mean that the Hornets pass on Stauskas, and a greater need (shooting), to grab Payton, but most would agree that Payton is a better prospect than Stauskas. This could be the route Charlotte takes if this scenario were to play itself out. Gary Harris and James Young are both alive with the 9th pick, but barely. Don’t expect either one of these players to walk across the stage and be handed a Charlotte Hornets hat tonight. Trading the 9th pick was gaining momentum rapidly up until this week, and then it all-of-a-sudden came to a violent halt. This doesn’t mean that Charlotte hasn’t been involved in any trade talks with the 9th pick, because I promise they have. The Hornets have some young pieces on their roster, but not any that intrigue other teams due to that fact that most of them have developed very slowly. Or not at all. So, in short, the only true assets the front office has to show for going into the draft are the 9th & 24th picks. Last night, the idea of trading the 9th pick proved to still have a pulse.

Chicago has been noted for hunting a shooter in this draft, and this clears the air that they’re going to go ahead and swing for the fences on trying to grab the best one. Which makes sense when you consider that they’re one of the teams trying to build a castle in order to blow away Lebron James or Carmelo Anthony when free-agency begins July 1.

Charlotte is in a good place with the 9th pick if this Chicago trade rumor is accurate. They have the ultimate leverage because of the fact that the Hornets are the first team thought to be targeting a shooter, specifically. It’s fair to believe Chicago will have to get to #9 in order to draft their coveted shooter.

A few side-notes to consider though: Sacramento has been pimping the 8th pick, so they could simply draft for Chicago and make the deal right in front of Charlotte. Philadelphia (who drafts 10th) never worked out McDermott or Stauskas. Not once. So, if Chicago believes one of them will definitely be available with Denver at 11, then they’ll make the trade there – Denver has been shopping the 11th pick in this draft since the beginning of time.

Well, that’s what I’ve got going into tonight. If you read my stuff at all, you know that I stand for Nik Stauskas with the 9th pick. Not a secret. At 24th, I like Mitch McGary. Immediate backup center for Jefferson with the intangibles you want from your first big off the bench. I’ve heard a little about James Young possibly sliding late into the first round, so it’d be awesome to grab him at 24, but I’ve also heard Philadelphia is hot for him with the 10th pick. Who knows.

It’s here! Happy draft day everyone!

PROGRAMMING NOTE: We’ll be simulcasting the draft on Hive Talk Live tonight! Yes, LIVE. Join us at 7:00 pm ET at hivetalklive.com.