With the draft a mere three days away everyone is starting to feel the excitement of what Thursday will hopefully have in store for the Hornets. In the first ever draft as the new-and-improved Charlotte Hornets the team will hold two draft picks (9 & 24). Not only that, but this is a draft that is coveted because it is extremely deep with talent.
With that said, let’s hear from a few of Queen City Hoops finest on what could happen on Thursday night.
1. What is the best case scenario for the Hornets with the ninth pick? What is the most likely scenario?
Spencer Percy (@QCHspencer): Simply put, if Orlando would pony up and send Aaron Afflalo to Charlotte for the 9th pick. As usual, the front office is quiet, but from what most have been able to gather it sounds as if this team wants to improve as much as possible, as quickly as possible. Afflalo would bring that goal to fruition before free-agency even arrives. Sure, it’s not the best idea in terms of asset management due to the fact that Afflalo only has two years left on his deal (final year is a player option), but it moves the needle a substantial amount during the Al Jefferson window. If you’re in the eastern conference right now and you’re semi-competitive, well, you’re probably not that far away from being a conference finals participant. I think Charlotte smells this and will do everything possible to strike aggressively this summer. It might not happen until free-agency, but landing Afflalo via trade in the draft would be an ideal start.
A close second best-case scenario for the Hornets here would consist of Marcus Smart, Aaron Gordon, or Julius Randle falling to them.
At this stage, the most likely scenario is that the Hornets draft Doug McDermott with the ninth pick. McDermott is the best fit for this roster currently due to his ability to shoot and flat out score the ball. There are the obvious ‘positional tweener’ and defensive concerns, but at the end of the day he’s the logical fit because of his readiness to come in and give offensive production from the bench immediately.
Michael Kaskey-Blomain (@therealmikekb): The best case scenario at the ninth selection spot would probably be if one of the draft’s top tier power forwards (Vonleh, Gordon, Randle) we’re still available. Joel Embiid’s latest injury has really clouded up the top of the draft board, and no one seems certain whose going to go where. With that being said, it seems pretty certain that guys like Parker, Wiggins, and Exum will be gone by the ninth pick, but there is potential for one of the forwards to fall, with Randle being the most likely due to his own injury issues. Although Charlotte desperately needs some scoring and shooting, they could also really benefit from the addition of a young, athletic power forward, especially with McRoberts hitting the market.
The most likely scenario however seems to be the selection of sharp-shooting Doug McDermott out of Creighton. The team is reportedly really high on him, and he addresses one of their biggest needs in perimeter production. Although there are concerns about his speed and defensive ability at the next level, it would be his ability to put the ball in the basket that would really help the Hornets.
Greg Pietras (@Handles_Messiah): Charlotte’s in a good position right now: They have a competent core, but their needs include shooting from the wings, a backup point guard, and depth in the frontcourt. That’s…pretty much every position. Best-case scenario is they keep things simple, and take the top player available. Charlotte does need shooting, but I think it’s a little myopic to say they HAVE to spend their top pick on a shooter. There are other paths to address that, especially if a better prospect like Aaron Gordon, Julius Randle, or Noah Vonleh falls to them. Those players are probably gone, though, and a shooter/scorer like Nik Stauskas, Gary Harris or Doug McDermott feels like the most likely pick.
2. What is the best case scenario for the Hornets with the 24th pick? What is the most likely scenario?
Spencer: If P.J. Hairston falls to Charlotte at 24 then I would suggest landing him would probably be the best-case, but there’s a prevailing thought that the Knicks will try to trade late into the first round, and their target very well be Hairston. New York would be shopping Iman Shumpert in a deal like this, and have been for quite awhile. That’s fair value to me, and I’m torn on how much sense it makes for this roster. It certainly further crowds the wing position, but it does add depth and seemingly a battle for the starting SG spot with Shump & Hendo. He’s ready to go now offensively and defensively. Also, he’s a great defender, which I’m a sucker for. If I’m a GM and my job is to build a contender now, aside from collecting assets / eyeing the future, I take this deal.
It’s hard to type ‘Zach LaVine’ and ‘best-case scenario’ together in the same sentence, but if he falls to Charlotte at 24 (unlikely) I believe they’ll swing for the fences. I have to be honest, it’s an exciting thought to ponder.
The Hornets worked out K.J. McDaniels for the second time today and some believe he’s the guy here. Doubtful that K.J. is the number one option for the front office with this pick, but he’s likely going to be the prospect they like most left here. McDaniels is a similar mold of MKG. Crazy high defensive potential. Incredible athlete. Can’t shoot. Well, he’s got a better stroke than MKG at this point and more potential to improve, but you get the point. I love McDaniels as a prospect, but I don’t think it fits a dire need for the roster. Meh pick for me.
Clint Capela, Mitch McGary, Jordan Clarkson and Glenn Robinson III are all in play here as well.
Michael: The best case scenario at the 24th selection spot would be is former UNC guard P.J. Hairston. Hairston, who is already familiar with the city of Charlotte, is one of the draft’s most NBA-ready players due to his stint in the D-League, and he would fill a big hole for Charlotte on the wing. Hairston has NBA-level talent, and could develop into a solid starter for Charlotte.
If Hairston is still available at 24, he may be the most likely selection. However, there is a good chance he won’t be available at that point, at which point I would expect the team to focus on another perimeter player.
Greg: A trade for a veteran like Arron Afflalo would be fantastic with Charlotte’s second pick (and some other stuff). That’s a pipe dream, as Orlando is apparently asking for the world, but there are comparable players out there that could be available. They could use a spot starter and sixth man at the wings. Jeff Taylor might be that guy, but an Achilles injury is hard to come back from, and he was inconsistent to begin with. Backup point guard is a need, and it’d be nice to have a solid veteran behind Kemba. Assuming they keep the 24th pick, I think it’s the most likely selection here. They’d likely be ecstatic if one of Zach LaVine, Tyler Ennis or Shabazz Napier is still available.
3. How does Josh McRoberts impending free agency affect the Hornets draft approach? What is the most likely type of trade scenario they would consider?
Spencer: It’s hard to tell how exactly is affects how the team approaches the draft, but I would venture to guess not much at all. I know for a fact that McBob likes being in Charlotte, but he’s earned the right to opt-out and dip his head into the water to take the temperature of his market. Ultimately, I think he ends up in a Hornets uniform next season.
Again, acquiring Aaron Afflalo from Orlando for the 9th pick remains to be the most likely trade scenario surrounding Charlotte to me.
Michael: I don’t really expect Charlotte to pull any trades on draft day, as they need to continue to stockpile young talent while developing into a contender. I also don’t expect the free agency of Josh McRoberts to play a major role in the Hornets’ draft approach. It may make them a little more eager to add a forward that could stretch the floor with one of their first picks, but they should also be interested in the best available players at both of their selection spots.
Greg: I do expect to see one of the picks traded, probably the 24th. They have plenty of young talent, and adding a few steady veterans to round out the bench makes sense. Trading for a future first might be appealing, too — it’s a deep draft, but kicking their pick down the road might make sense if it’s the right team.