In Rick Bonnell's column in the Charlotte Observer today, he notes how a key theme in his talks with the media is the desire for the team to add experience and size.
Clifford favors players who can actively contribute sooner rather than later on the promise of potential development, which can make for some differing priorities between the coaching side and management side. Clifford sides with players who can give the team a better chance at winning in the present mindset, which doesn't always mesh with developing young players who might hold the ability to become higher impact players down the road.
This wasn't much of an issue last season. Their youngest players were Cody Zeller, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Bismack Biyombo. Each of those players were given role fitting their talents: Kidd-Gilchrist started at small forward, tying the team's defense together; Zeller backed up Josh McRoberts, whose offense gave the Bobcats much more than Zeller did as a rookie; and Biyombo was limited to an efficient but smaller role as the backup center. They each saw significant playing time (some nights more than others, of course) and were given the chance to play beyond their normal role if they were playing particularly well.
Mostly, these views from Clifford might hint at who the Hornets are looking at in the draft.
At No. 9, it's no secret the Hornets have been considering Doug McDermott. With four years of college ball under his belt, McDermott's basketball skills have been on display for audiences for a while. He's an experienced player with a good understanding of the game and a knack for putting the little orange round thing into the metal hoop. Teams at least know what McDermott can bring in one regard: his jump shot. His athleticism might leave scouts scratching their noggin wondering if he can finish at the rim against NBA size, but that jump shot should be a plug-and-play addition for any team needing shooting.
Nik Stauskas is also a possibility. He's closer to a finished product than some prospects and also offers shooting as a more prototypical sniper shooting guard. He can handle the ball a bit, which gives his offense a bit more versatility than being a pure catch-and-shoot guy. But his defense is the part in question, as is the case with McDermott, too.
Perhaps Gary Harris of Michigan State might fit here, too. With a decent jump shot and great defensive instincts, Harris can impact a game on either side of the floor. He's not as good a shooter as either McDermott or Stauskas have shown to be, but his shooting touch has room to improve. Though Clifford talked about the impact of size and wingspan, Harris offers the defensive intensity that makes up for being a tad undersized.
There really aren't many prospects expected to be picked around No. 9 that are heavy with the "potential" buzzword. Elfrid Payton and Jusuf Nurkic are probably the closest in that mid to late lottery area, and they're not expected to be selected until a few spots after the Hornets. Dario Saric was one of those guys too until he signed a contract in Europe for another two years.
The Hornets also gave small forward Jerami Grant a look in workouts. Clifford loved his size, but I doubt he gets too much consideration for Charlotte because of his inconsistent shooting and hard-to-predict future ability as small forward in the NBA after playing as a power forward.
Regardless, expect the Hornets -- if they keep their picks -- to draft for the best talent that can help immediately, if Clifford's words are any indication.