Spencer Percy (@QCHspencer): 8. It was shocking watching Vonleh fall so viciously in the last 48 hours leading up to the draft. It seemed at if he wouldn’t get past No. 5 for weeks, but scouts began to worry about his motor and physicality long-term, which ultimately vaulted Aaron Gordon and Julius Randle ahead of him. Good thing, because the Hornets arguably got the best value pick of the entire draft here.
Noah Vonleh has a very intriguing set of skills. In his freshman, and only, season at Indiana, he shot 48.5 percent from three and averaged nine rebounds per game. He’s got a crafty little hook shot over either shoulder close to the basket, and everyone will be surprised how much Vonleh can dribble for his size. The biggest hands of anyone in this draft. No question about it. I’m fairly certain he can palm a watermelon.
All this said, he’s about two months away from turning 19 years old and is going to take a few years to start impacting NBA games on a noticeable level. Long-term, Vonleh is the PF of the future for Charlotte. The team will still chase Josh McRoberts aggressively in free agency, and likely seek a two- to three-year contract. Just long enough to develop Vonleh and allow him to step into the starting PF slot.
Greg Pietras (@Handles_Messiah): 5. I wasn’t necessarily shocked than Vonleh fell, since Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski (who else) reported he would slide a bit. When he was still on the board at No. 9, it felt like a 50-50 shot between Noah and Doug McDermott. It was a classic need vs. talent decision, and they probably made the best call for the long term.
Noah brings some skills they can use right away, like rebounding, post defense and mid-range shooting, but he’ll be a project. If he’s starting next year, something went wrong in free agency. But he has the size to be a legitimate two-way player, and the skills to be extremely versatile on offense. He’s more of a risk than a polished guy like Doug McDermott, but you can’t pass up that kind of potential.
Michael Kaskey-Blomain (@therealmikekb): 7. The ninth pick in the draft was somewhat shocking for a couple reasons. First, it was surprising, albeit not shocking that Vonleh feel that far. There were some reports that his stock had been slipping slightly, but his upside is so high I figured he would still be selected within the top seven. The other surprising aspect of the pick is the fact that the Hornets actually took him.
It seemed all but set in stone that the Hornets would select McDermott with that ninth pick, as the team was reportedly high on him, and he filled a specific need. Prior to the pick, I was hearing rumblings throughout the Barclays Center event floor that Vonleh could potentially slip to the Sixers at 10, so it was definitely sort of surprising to see the Hornets snatch him up.
Dakota Schmidt (@Dakota_Schmidt): 6. Considering the way that the previous eight picks turned out, I have to say that I was pretty shocked about Vonleh falling to Charlotte. Considering the fact that Aaron Gordon (Orlando) and Nik Stauskas (Sacramento) were picked by teams that would have been a great fit for Vonleh, I have to say that Charlotte is extremely lucky.
2. With the 26th pick the Hornets got P.J. Hairston, a guy they seemed to be targeting all along. It took a small trade to snag him — overall thoughts of this selection?
Spencer: There are still quite a few questions surrounding Hairston and his character. He handled the interviews with teams very well prior to the draft, but after all the positive D-League talk you were hearing, negative rumblings about his effort at the combine found their way through.
I love Hairston’s game, and he has all of the potential to become a big-time scoring SG in this league. It’s rather obvious that P.J. was one of the Hornets’ main targets all along, and they got him deep into the first round. Charlotte swapped picks with Miami (24th for 26th) and were also awarded the 55th overall pick (which they traded) for their troubles.
Overall, I like it. Hairston addresses the biggest need for this roster and will be impactful offensively right away. Gary Neal and Hairston will be two strong shooting punches from the bench next season. Hairston needs to improve defensively, and if he does, it’s not impossible that he leaps Henderson in the lineup at some point next season.
Greg: A really good pick. Since he spent last year in the D-League, Hairston is going to be better prepared for the pros than a lot of similar prospects. That means he’s likely to come in and perform right away, making him a good pairing with the raw Vonleh. If he can provide the shooting and spark of Neal without giving up as much defensively, that’d be a huge gain for the bench.
Michael: This selection was great for Charlotte. They were rumored to be interested in Hairston all along, and being able to snag him so late in the first round is a victory. He fills a huge void for the Hornets in terms of shooting and perimeter production, and he has a solid shot to be a starter on the squad. Not to mention, as a former Tar Heel, Hairston is already comfortable and familiar with the city of Charlotte, which is an added bonus.
Dakota: As someone who watched Hairston light it up in the D-League with Texas, I’m pretty excited about his potential with Charlotte. Even though the NBADL isn’t exactly a hotbed for great defenses, Hairston was able to showcase that he can basically score from any aspect of the court. Initially, I can see him taking that spot as the team’s top scoring option off the bench, while also having the potential to be a future starting option.
3. Grade the Charlotte Hornets’ 2014 draft and give us your best-case scenario for how this class plays out.
Spencer: A-. Although who was available and ultimately selected with the 9th pick was a bit of a surprise, it was the right one. Don’t get me wrong, I was all prepared for the McDermott pick and like his game, but not passing on the best available (Vonleh) in this case was absolutely the wise decision.
The P.J. Hairston pick was simply icing on the cake. Again, they wanted him all along, and got him deep into first round. Win.
Best-case scenario for Noah Vonleh: He develops according to plan, is the starting PF in Charlotte two seasons from now, and is this franchise’s second perennial all-star. I’ve heard the Chris Bosh comp tossed around a lot, and I like that as his ceiling.
Best-case scenario for P.J. Hairston: Truly does have his off-the-court decision-making problems in check, makes a significant offensive splash for Charlotte right away, and is the starting SG on this roster at the beginning of next season. Hairston is an athletic volume scorer with so much potential on both ends of the floor — I think he’s going to mesh perfectly with Steve Clifford.
Greg: A. They pick up a project with a high ceiling, plus a player that helps them immediately and addresses their biggest need. Best-case for Hairston: His shooting stays sharp, and he’s a valuable role player in ’14-’15. In a year or two, he improves his defense and takes over the starting role when Gerald Henderson leaves. For Vonleh: He spends a year or two developing on the bench behind McRoberts and Al Jefferson, but blossoms into an excellent, versatile big man along the lines of Al Horford.
Michael: The Hornets get an A for their work on draft day. They took the best available player at the ninth selection spot, and Vonleh has a great shot to become central to Charlotte’s success down the road. He was a top-tier talent in the draft, and at nine his selection was almost a no-brainer. He adds a new element to Charlotte’s frontcourt foundation, and provides them with some great flexibility if McRoberts is gone.
The fact that Vonleh was still available for Charlotte’s selection was a gift, even though it he didn’t fill a specific need. That need however, was filled with Charlotte’s second selection. Realistically, Hairston could have been a lottery lock if not for concerns about off-court issues. He is an NBA-ready, productive player, that could come in and contribute to Charlotte right away. For a team that wasn’t supposed to have a lottery pick, the Hornets did quite well for themselves on draft day.
Best-case scenario: While both first-round picks need development, they possess the potential to be special in the league. You have to think that the best-case scenario for these two would be developing into solid starters for Charlotte down the line.
Dakota: A. When you get the opportunity to draft two potential starters in a single draft class, you have to be extremely excited. Despite Charlotte’s large amount of success during the 2013-14 season, there was still concerns centered around their lack of a consistent scoring threat behind Big Al and Kemba. While it may take some time for this duo to develop into bonafide starters, they will help make Charlotte into a deeper and more all-around offensive unit.