June 20, 2017 (Updated)
Coming off a mediocre 2016-17 season, the Charlotte Hornets go into Thursday night having more needs than they do picks. The team can’t be restored into playoff contention by the NBA Draft alone. The acquisition of Dwight Howard and the 31st overall pick may address some critical needs, but the Hornets also need to add some depth.
Here are some potential picks for both rounds:
1st Round, Pick 11
Lauri Markannen, Power Forward, Arizona: Markannen, if still on the board, would be the most logical pick for the Hornets. He has good size, is a competent defender, and could greatly help the lethargic Hornets offense spread the floor. But what makes Markannen such a great fit for the Hornets more than anything else is his shooting ability, particularly from three point range. While he only averaged 4.4 three point attempts per game, he shot them at an impressive 42%. That efficiency from long range is something the Hornets are in desperate need of.
Luke Kennard, Shooting Guard, Duke: Many think of Kennard as mainly a three point shooter, which is selling the sophomore guard short. Kennard is a relentless scorer who can drive the ball well, and has superb ball handling skills. Kennard’s scoring ability and reliable shooting would be a welcome boost to Charlotte’s backcourt.
Justin Jackson, Small Forward, North Carolina: Another player from Tobacco Road who could greatly help the Hornets is Justin Jackson. Jackson greatly improved his shooting during his last year in Chapel Hill, particularly from behind the arc, where he went from shooting 29% his sophomore year to 37% his junior year. While the perimeter offense already makes him an attractive pick, Jackson’s ability to see the floor and make good passes, his aptitude for finishing in the paint, and reliable mid-range game all make him an almost perfect complement to Michael Kidd-Gilchirst at small forward.
Zach Collins, Center, Gonzaga: If the Hornets front office wanted to further continue their seemingly annual tradition of frustrating their fans by making a lackluster and unexciting pick, then Zach Collins is their man. Collins is undoubtedly a solid player, but the Hornets taking another big man who lacks perimeter shooting would be as irritating as it would be repetitive. Collins, much like Hornets Cody Zeller, Frank Kaminsky, and Miles Plumlee, is a jack of all trades but a master of none, who is inconsistent, unproven and would likely add no versatility to Charlotte’s offense. What makes this a bad pick is not that Collins is a bad player, but rather it is the fact that Buzz City already has three players almost unerringly like him.
Donavan Mitchell, Shooting Guard, Louisville: Mitchell would be an intriguing fit for Charlotte. The 6’2 guard is a well-rounded scorer, capable on both ends of the floor, and could give the Hornets a nice boost in rebounding. While questions linger about Mitchell’s passing game and how his style would mesh with team All-Star Kemba Walker, his raw athleticism and solid scoring make him more than worthy of consideration.
2nd Round, Pick 31 (*Acquired in Dwight Howard trade*)
Frank Mason, Point Guard, Kansas: The front office has made it a priority to get a capable backup to Kemba Walker at the point guard position, and that issue is likely addressed in the second round. Frank Mason‘s game is much like Walker’s, he has a shoot-first, pass-second philosophy on offense and is unreliable on defense due to his size. In spite of the defensive ineptitude, the Naismith Award winner’s ability to attack the basket and natural quickness would make him a nice second round addition to the Hornets.
Tyler Lydon, Power Forward, Syracuse: Though Lydon falling to pick 31 wouldn’t be an unlikely scenario, it should still be considered a steal for the Hornets. Lydon’s game is much like the aforementioned Lauri Markkanen’s, he’s a big man with a lot of offensive firepower. His three point shooting, reliable passing, and ability to play a zone defense would make him a great role player for Charlotte. Simply put, Lydon is everything you could want out of a second round pick.
Derrick White, Point Guard/Shooting Guard, Colorado: White is arguably one of the most well-rounded players in the draft; he averaged 18.3 points, 4.3 assists, and 4.1 rebounds during his senior season in Boulder. White is a very capable scorer who can be a threat from long range, and is very effective at finishing plays near the rim. Though White can be inept on defense, his scoring ability and uniqueness as a true combo guard makes him appealing for the Hornets.
Sindarius Thornwell, Shooting Guard, South Carolina: If the Hornets take a big in the first round, there’s a strong possibility of them taking a shooting guard in the second. Thornwell, who rose to national prominence after the Gamecock’s Cinderella run in the NCAA Tournament this past March, would be an enticing selection for the Hornets. The word that comes to mind more than any other when describing Thornwell is productive. Whether points, assists, or rebounds, Thornwell is able to produce. His experience, well-roundedness, and ability to draw fouls all make him a sound second round selection for Charlotte.
The 2017 NBA Draft kicks-off on Thursday, June 22 at 7 p.m.