The NBA Draft is HERE! I know the NBA season really just ended, but as a Hornets fan, my season really ended two plus months ago so I’m ready for some actual roster transactions.
Without projecting any trades that may or may not happen , we all know that Charlotte has absolutely zero room to do much, if anything, in free agency. So really, the Hornets offseason starts and ends with the draft tonight. It’s no secret as to how bad the Hornets have performed in the draft over the past 10 plus years so we don’t need to revisit it, but I’m hoping that with a new, experienced GM in Mitch Kupchak coupled with an overhauled front office and a young coach ripe from San Antonio in James Borrego, Charlotte can experience some draft success that’s largely avoided them for most of franchise history.
I’ve kept up with the speculation as to where players will end up, but it’s hard to truly project out what will happen, especially when trades are on the table. Plus once the draft starts, 11 is a long ways out. So much can happen, a player always drops, there is always a surprise player that goes much earlier than anticipated, etc. so it’ll be interesting to see how different the landscape is when pick 11 comes around compared to what we assumed would happen as recently as a day ago.
All of this being said, I think there are about 10 players or so that could conceivably be available at 11. Some are much more likely than others as I have factored in who might drop that is considered a top 10 pick and, vice versa, players that might consider pick 11 as their absolute ceiling and are likely be picked later in the lottery or just after. When it comes down to it, there are three players that I truly think will be in play at 11 that the Hornets should draft and their order in my priority list.
My Big Board:
1. Miles Bridges
Miles Bridges is far an away the number one player on my wishlist for Charlotte. I find it a little ironic that I’m typing this so adamantly given where I stood with him back in March and February. Early mock drafts kept throwing Bridges at Charlotte and I just initially couldn’t get behind the idea of a 6-7 forward, who was naturally a four, but slated as a three in the NBA on this roster. What changed my opinion on him was just simply watching the playoffs.
If you watched any of the teams in the Conference Finals, you saw different versions of this, but the Celtics were where it stood out most prominently and that was defensive switching. The NBA has entered into this era of positionless basketball and the more players that you can have on your roster that can successfully guard multiple positions, the more success you will have. Miles Bridges is a guy that should be able to switch to as many as three positions on the floor right away and with time, could elevate that number to four and sometimes five. I think his ceiling on defense is that high. Plus, the frame Miles brings with him is one that should be able to withstand a full 82 game schedule.
Offensively, I like Bridges as well. He’s an elite athlete in this class even though his tools aren’t as developed as other guys that will get taken before him. His outside shot isn’t bad, but could use some development. The form is good, but he will need to make sure he can hit outside shots consistently.
If Miles Bridges is there at 11, I’m all in on Kupchak taking him.
2. Collin Sexton
Trying to figure out if the Hornets are going to keep or trade Kemba is another blog post entirely, but even if they keep him, there is no backup or succession plan in place. In 2015, Charlotte had a great season in large part to the role Jeremy Lin played for the team both as Kemba’s backup and as a player that could effectively play alongside of him. After Lin left for Brooklyn, Charlotte has tried to fill that void and has unsuccessfully done so. I think Collin Sexton would be the solution.
Sexton, like Kemba in college, is a great scorer with a ton of raw athletic ability that allows him to get to the rim at will. He has the ability to hit threes, but he’s not a great shooter. Kemba grew into it. Why can’t Sexton?
Where MCW and Session couldn’t provide an offensive spark when Kemba took a breather, Sexton should be able to remedy that. He’s enough of a threat offensively that defenses will have to keep him in mind during matchups. He could improve as a ball handler, facilitator and overall shooter, but with his rim scoring and potential hot streak that could surface, he should be a capable 2nd unit leader from day one in the NBA.
As a defender, he also has the built out frame that can hold up over 82 games. Sexton is an active on ball defender and he is high energy in that department. He does have a tendency to lose people off the ball, but playing under Borrego will help correct those lapses.
3. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
SGA is a popular pick among Hornets fans, but he sits in chair three for me. You have to love how young he is and the measurables that he provides a PG position. He’s pretty rangy at 6-6 too, so I think he has the ability to be a pretty versatile defender. If Charlotte holds on to Kemba, SGA is the type of player that could share the court with both him and Monk. That would make for some pretty interesting rotations.
I love his facilitation and passing ability. He showed great vision at Kentucky and is good at finding the open man. He has pretty good handles for his size too. The rest of his offensive game is still a work in progress. He can get to the rim, but not as well as Sexton. His length helped get him in good positions around the rim in college, but that won’t be something he can rely on at the next level as easily. His jump shot is pretty solid too. He already has a solid mid range game and he made threes at a good clip in college, but he was always a catch and shoot guy from the outside at UK. Creating outside shots off the dribble will be key.
He doesn’t have the frame Sexton or Bridges do so I do worry about endurance his rookie year, but I love his heart and I think SGA has that killer instinct and desire to get better. It just might take a year or two to get there. He has all the tools to be Shaun Livingston which on the right team, is a great piece to have in your lineup.