The needs for the Hornets are pretty clear: scoring, a backup point guard, and depth in the post. So Charlotte fans would like to see at least two of those areas, heck let's say all three, addressed this off-season. Charlotte will also have a second round pick so as it stands they will come out of this summer's draft with three new players. The Hornets could theoretically address all three areas through the draft, but for now let's just focus on what could come of this pick at numbers nine. And of course, thank you again for Joe Dumars for letting us have this conversation.
Trade: Should the Hornets trade this pick it could be done in a variety of ways. If they see a player in the top three they can't live without -- and with Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid and Jabari Parker available there they might -- they could try to package it to move up. That pick could be packaged with the 24th and a player on the roster to jump into the top handful of spots. You have to think the only untouchable player in Charlotte right now is Al Jefferson, with maybe Kemba Walker sitting right behind him in the look but don't touch unless we give you the OK category. So anyone else has the potential to be included in a swap.
Instantly Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Cody Zeller jump out because they're still young and were high draft picks in the last two drafts. The chance to get Wiggins or Parker especially would likely be too great to pass on shipping out one or two of their young core along with the draft picks should that possibility present itself, which isn't likely and is more of a pipe dream.
They could also drop down a few spots to pick up some more assets. This seems little more likely with many saying this draft is as deep in talent as it is peaking in talent at the top, maybe even more so. Phoenix could be a potential dance partner if there is someone they fancy around nine, and could be wiling to swap their picks at 14 and 18 to grab him. That could be enticing as well. Trade scenarios will become clearer and murkier over the next few weeks until they all fall apart on draft night and turn into nothing. So look forward to that.
Assuming Charlotte keeps the pick there are several players who could be available, obviously. It looks like wing scoring will be addressed at nine with a couple players at the two or the three being around when the Hornets pick so that scoring need looks to be first up on the to do list. This consensus list on NBA.com has a great summary of what those in the know have come up with from around the Internet.
Based on these, Doug McDermott actually shakes out as being the most likely player to be selected by Charlotte at nine. The obvious (and lazy) Adam Morrison comparisons are the first kickback you hear. McDermott seems to be a much more efficient scorer than Morrison was, and he does it from just about everywhere. Draft Express has a great breakdown on all these guys, and really lauds McDermott's scoring ability. Most observers say his scoring is certainly the most NBA ready skill and he should be able to do it from day one. His range is NBA ready as well. Foot speed, especially on defense, and his overall athleticism are the cause for concern with McDermott.
He's likely too small to play the four, so matching up against the quicker three in the NBA will be an issue. Certainly the Hornets are a defensive minded team but let's not pretend like that will take him out of the equation at 9. Scoring is needed, badly. And if anyone can coach up defense it's Steve Clifford.
Gary Harris can play defense. And Gary Harris can shoot. And Gary Harris played for a tough-minded coach in Tom Izzo at Michigan State so it feels like Gary Harris makes a lot of sense for Charlotte. Harris also could potentially play the point guard position as well as the two. So if the Hornets can add some point guard depth on top of some perimeter scoring and defense they could really get value at this pick. For some reason he's not the sexiest pick for a lot of you, maybe it's because his name is Gary. Why do you hate that name?
Harris doesn't blow you away with his athleticism, and his ball handling is something he needs to improve as well. His lack of explosiveness on offense is likely what detractors will site when warning against picking him at nine. At 19 years old, he would be another very young draft pick by Charlotte, (Michael Kidd-Gilchrist was also 19 when he was drafted two years ago) so there is room to grow. But Charlotte needs contributions. Harris seems to have enough basketball IQ to get minutes and if he can play both guard spots Clifford would probably be able to use him from the start.
Aaron Gordon is a guy (draft guru voice) with a lot of upside and is explosive athletically but his game isn't as refined as you might like it to be. He's not a fill-it-up type of scorer. He plays the four, and depending on what happens with Josh McRoberts and the presence of Cody Zeller that doesn't seem to be an immediate area of need. Although another athletic defender is not something Charlotte would hate to have. If he's there he'll certainly get a look but unless he blows the Hornets away he seems a less likely addition.
Nik Stauskas is another player who could come in immediately and shoot his way into playing time. The Michigan shooting guard stands an enviable 6-6 and would instantly help the perimeter shooting on a team that desperately needs it. If he has great workouts and impresses you can really see how Stauskas would fit nicely in Charlotte as a shooter. His athleticism and ability to finish are going to be the concern for him on offense. And his quickness on defense and ability to defend on the next level are the other knocks on him.
And of course Dario Saric is a guy who needs no introduction. We all know about Dario Saric. The 6-10 Croatian forward is a skilled passer and has very good court vision. Those skills immediately bring to mind Josh McRoberts for the Hornets so one could see Saric as a potential replacement for McRoberts. However Saric's strength is an issue and it sounds like most scouts see him struggling to hold his ground in the NBA paint against most power forwards. But his lack of quickness on the perimeter will make it tough for him to match up against the small forwards. He's a decent shooter, but does need the ball in his hands to be effective. There is also the question of whether or not he'll stay in the draft or come over immediately if drafter. That seems like a lot of ifs.
In the it's-just-crazy-enough-to-work category we should mention P.J. Hairston. At nine it seems like Hairston would be a gigantic reach. But if you figure in that he might have been projected around 15ish had he remained at North Carolina last year, he becomes a little less of a stretch. The Hornets brass doesn't seem to be afraid of grabbing a talent a few picks early if they really like someone. Charlotte did just that selecting Zeller at No. 4 last year. Hairston can flat out shoot and score. He can finish, but his ball handling will need to improve to truly round out his offensive arsenal in the NBA. He lit up the D-League, which he should have done with his talent, and he likely won't be around at 24 so if Charlotte really likes him, and some of the other prospects are gone, I'd keep an eye on that. Realistically though he probably makes more sense should Charlotte drop back a few spots.
The Hornets also previously met with Rodney Hood, but none of the current mocks on NBA.com listed Hood as the pick at nine.
So much will shake out over the next few weeks that at this point anything could happen. Thankfully the Hornets are in a pretty good spot to add help or assets.