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Charlotte Hornets NBA Draft Buzz – Randle & Gordon Edition



We’re rapidly approaching June 26th. It’s a mere nine days in front of us at this point, but there are uncertainties that exist. It’s hard not to believe that the front office continues to burn up the phones in search of a trade partner that would bring some veteran presence to Charlotte in exchange for draft picks. That being said, all is quiet on that front currently.

Basically, workouts have abound in Time Warner Cable Arena over the past two weeks. The team is trying to put their finger on the prospect that plugs best into this roster now. There doesn’t appear to be a clubhouse leader – McDermott’s workout apparently didn’t knock anyone’s socks off last week.

Chad Ford, ESPN:

McDermott’s workout in Charlotte last week against T.J. Warren wasn’t a huge hit. While McDermott shot the ball well, he struggled in the competitive portions of the drill when he had to guard Warren one-on-one. After seeing Warren destroy everyone a few weeks ago in Thousand Oaks, I have a good idea of what the Hornets saw there.

DIEDRA LAIRD/Charlotte Observer

DIEDRA LAIRD/Charlotte Observer

This isn’t reason for a full-blown panic for McDermott backers. If you did your homework you knew defense was very possibly going to be an issue for him at this level, and the fact that Charlotte made him workout one-on-one versus the best ISO prospect in this draft doesn’t help. Take a deep breath and just know that the Hornets are probably digesting McDermott’s poor defensive effort with a grain of salt. He shot the ball well last week in Charlotte, and that’s the skill that will keep him in the conversation up until the very last second.



Side-note: I’m not going to talk about Stauskas in this piece. He’s very much alive at nine and I still believe he’ll be the selection, but… Okay, enough. Aren’t you guys proud of me?

It’s clear that this team needs a floor spacer/shooter, and God knows we’ve talked about it enough, but the basketball decisions are now made by Rich Cho solely – draft for talent, trade / sign free-agents for need. This is the verse we’ve been fed to believe when it comes to Cho and how he builds a roster. With certain names beginning to slide in mock drafts, it could present an opportunity for Charlotte to draft a player that doesn’t exactly fit a need for the roster currently.

Upside. High-ceiling. Room for growth. Some different ways to describe a prospect that hasn’t unlocked all the secrets that his game has to offer yet. Julius Randle and Aaron Gordon fit this mold of player that will be drafted at some point-in-time during in the lottery next Thursday.

Let’s dig in to see why and how either one of these names could be called by Adam Silver when the Hornets pick ninth (assuming they do) next Thursday.

Aaron Gordon

Make no mistake, this kid is a freak athlete that will make an immediate impact on the defensive end in the league – he’s a coaches dream defensively due to the fact that he could potentially be able to guard 2-5 on this level. He should be dynamic in transition with his leaping ability and will develop some kind of jump-shot, but there’s nothing to write home about in that category to this point.

There’s a popular thought right now that suggests Gordon will be a better fit for a team in the late lottery. A situation where he’s not asked to come in and set the city on fire right away, because his game just isn’t ready for that pressure yet – a skill-set that simply isn’t developed enough at this juncture. So, say Utah takes a chance on him at five, I think it’s a bust waiting to happen. Now, in Charlotte it could be a completely different story. If McBobaarongordon is back next season, then the Hornets are pretty set at SF + PF, but Gordon would be an awesome defensive/energetic spark-plug off the bench for either MKG or McBob for what should be a playoff team again. Part of me thinks it could be an ideal situation for the development of Gordon, who is only 18 years old.

If Cho finds a way to connect with a fastball in free-agency and deliver a true volume scorer/shooter to Charlotte, then I think drafting a player with the ceiling of Aaron Gordon, into a low pressure situation, makes a ton of sense. I know, I know, we don’t need another offensively deficient player on this roster. But, every small market franchise must seek through the lens of young, cheap talent that has the potential to develop into something very special. Insert Aaron Gordon.

Gordon will not be drafted in the top-4. It sounds like Utah is still considering him at five, but will likely side with either Dante Exum or Noah Vonleh with that selection. Boston will pick sixth (I think. They’re trying to fish Kevin Love out of Minnesota for a gaggle of draft picks), and from everything that I can gather, the oven is hottest for him here – especially if Noah Vonleh is off the board, which he should be. So, if he gets past Boston there’s an excellent chance Gordon is there at nine. The Lakers are probably deciding between Marcus Smart and Julius Randle at this point, while Sacramento is desperately trying to trade out of eighth – if the Kings make the pick it sounds like they’re going to take a point-guard.

The scenario exist, and no one should be shocked if the Hornets take the best prospect on the board with Aaron Gordon with the ninth pick.

Julius Randle

Ah, those good ole’ injury reports that always pinball prospects all over the lottery in mock drafts.

Jeff Goodman, CBSSports.com:

According to several team executives, the 6-foot-9 Kentucky forward’s broken right foot hasn’t healed correctly — and sources confirmed a Yahoo! Sports report that Randle may need surgery after the June 26 NBA draft that will keep him out of summer league.

“This is an issue,” one executive told ESPN.com. “It didn’t heal right.”

Julius Randle on Twitter:

I never do this but it was brought to me and it’s crazy how people put stories out there and have no clue what they are talking about. No disrespect but check with the actual source next time before you put something like that out there.


Frank Franklin I/AP

Depends on what you believe, but at the end of the day this will come down to individual team doctors – you take the advice of the professional that is being paid to give you guidance on how serious this foot issue is. There’s currently no belief that Randle is being seriously considered until the Lakers at seven. If they go with Smart, which I ultimately believe they will, then it seems likely Randle will be available at nine. If the team doctor clears his foot issue, the Hornets should probably go ahead and draft him.

Randle’s strength is miles beyond his counterparts in this draft class, and if he gets to his left hand then forget it – two points. He’s going to have to develop more of an ability to operate with his back to the basket, which he didn’t in college. Randle would catch, face, rip the ball through, and just bully kids to the rim in the SEC. No one could really stop him, but that won’t be the case as much in the NBA. He’s got to sharpen the ax offensively and develop some skill on that end – his power won’t make him an all-star in this league. Defensively, he’ll be a load to deal with for any post-player, but most teams will try to pull him away from the basket and make Randle use what lateral movement he has. More importantly, rebounding should be his strongest skill on the next level – easiest way to use his strength. Very realistic to believe Randle will average 10 rebounds for the better part of his NBA career.

We can debate Doug McDermott, Nik Stauskas, and Gary Harris until our eyes bleed, but if Aaron Gordon or Julius Randle fall to Charlotte at nine – well, all of it could be irrelevant as the Hornets will have a clear idea of the best available player on the board.