This time last year, the Hornets had one pick in the draft, owed to them by the Portland Trail Blazers from the Gerald Wallace trade. There was a very slim chance that a team would jump ahead of the Detroit Pistons and therefore give their pick to Charlotte (as part of the Ben Gordon trade, which still has to go down as an all-timer). The odds favored Charlotte, for once, and the Hornets selected Noah Vonleh with the ninth selection in the draft.
This year, the Hornets are in the lottery and most likely to pick at either spot nine or ten. Hopefully they luck into a top three selection, but for mock draft purposes, let's assume they pick at number nine.
Stanley Johnson: 6' 7" wing from Arizona. Born: 5/29/1996 (turns 19 this month). 6' 11.5" wingspan. 243 pounds.
Some quotes from Draft Express' great scouting report:
Johnson came into college with an absolutely chiseled frame, measuring around 6-8 in shoes at USA Basketball the summer prior, and tipping the scales at a rock solid 243 pounds. This is especially impressive considering that he reportedly had never lifted weights until arriving at Arizona.
... he impressed with his ability to make shots as a freshman, hitting 41 of his 111 3-point attempts on the season (37%), and showing a much quicker release and more compact mechanics than he had displayed earlier in his career, both shooting off the dribble (he converted 49% of his pull-ups in the half-court) and with his feet set (44% catch and shoot).
From the tape I've watched of Johnson, he's my favorite wing prospect other than Justice Winslow. He can do a little of everything and is an outstanding defender on the wing and in the post. He has all of the skills you need out on the wing, but just needs a little more polish.
Next three picks in the mock draft: Frank Kaminsky, Myles Turner, and Kelly Oubre.
Chad Ford's "Grade A" Mock (Insider Only)
Kelly Oubre: 6' 7" wing from Kansas. Born: 12/09/1995 (19 years old). 7' 1.5" wingspan. 204 pounds.
As most analysts will tell you, the Hornets need more shooting. It's always more shooting. This forms the basis of Ford's rationale in his mock that has Charlotte taking the lanky Kansas wing:
Analysis: The Hornets need a shooter, and they're in a funny place at No. 9. The two best shooters are ranked in another tier below them. Do they reach just because of need or do they hope that one of the guys in their range -- Oubre, Stanley Johnson or Sam Dekker -- turns into a really good shooter? I just don't think you dismiss talent for need and I think Oubre, especially, has the chance to turn into something they really need -- a long, athletic wing who can not only shoot but can defend.
Oubre feels more like a project than Johnson, but he has the length and athleticism of an NBA perimeter player. However, his shooting does seem a tad overrated. Not sure how he is a better prospect than James Young, who was the 17th pick in last year's draft.
Next three picks in the mock draft: Sam Dekker, Willie Cauley-Stein, and Kevon Looney.
Trey Lyles: 6' 10" forward from Kentucky. Born 11/05/1995 (19 years old). 7' 3.5" wingspan. 250 pounds.
Not sure the Hornets would take a power forward three years in a row, but it is at least refreshing to see a mock draft that doesn't have Charlotte taking a wing. Lyles played out of position a lot at Kentucky, likely due to Cauley-Stein staying another year. His statistics are affected by that issue, but when he plays, it's easy to see why he's a special player. For his size, he's incredibly skilled and fluid. It wouldn't be hard to argue that he's an equal or better prospect than Cody Zeller or even Noah Vonleh. Here are a few quotes from NBADraft.Net:
Although he's sometimes Kentucky's forgotten man and most underrated player, NBA talent evaluators know the potential he possesses ... The former Mr. Indiana Basketball has an old man's game, but would most certainly be racking up double-doubles for any other school that is not loaded with front court players like the Wildcats.
Next three picks in the mock draft: Willie Cauley-Stein, Kelly Oubre, and Sam Dekker.
Having reviewed these three mock drafts, which player are you taking if you're Rich Cho.