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Charlotte Hornets NBA Draft Preview: Devin Booker

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Devin Booker has proved he has the potential to be a premiere shooter in the league. For the ninth pick in the draft though, the freshman from Kentucky might be a reach.

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Devin Booker, who will be turning 19 at the end of October, is the youngest player in the draft.  Coming off a freshman season with the Kentucky Wildcats (38-1), Booker flew under the radar with a team stacked with talent.  Winning SEC Sixth Man of the Year honors, Booker showed his presence throughout the season regardless of coming off the bench.  By the end of the season, he was selected as one of 10 finalists for the 2015 Wayman Tisdale Award, annually given by the United States Writers Basketball Association to the top freshman in college basketball.

Booker's poise, shooting skill and being extremely polished at such a young age is a rare commodity that could make GM's think they could get the next Kobe in the draft (let's not go there Hornet's fans), but Booker isn't a home run.  He will have to be mentored for a few years into the league and be placed in a system that will give him the confidence he had at the college to translate to the NBA.  Also, if his shooting doesn't integrate well into the league, he has bust written all over him.  Booker is more of a project than a win now player.  With the right mentorship, he can turn into a Klay Thompson or emerge how Jimmy Butler did this year.  Is he worth the ninth pick in the draft though?

Measurements and Statistics:

Height w/o shoes Height w/ shoes Weight Wingspan Standing Reach Body Fat
6'4.5" 6' 5.75" 206 6' 8.25" 8' 6.5" 8.3

Games

Played

Minutes/game Points/game

Total Offensive Rebounds

Total Defensive Rebounds

Total

Rebounds/game

Assists/game Steals/game Blocks/game Turnovers/game Fouls/game
38 21.5 10.0 17 59 2.0 1.1 0.4 0.1 1.0 1.5

FG FGA FG% 2P 2PA 2P% 3P 3PA 3P% FT FTA FT%
3.6 7.6 47.0 2.0 3.8 52.7 1.5 3.7 41.1 1.4 1.7 82.8


Strengths:

A substantial majority of Booker's value is his pure shooting.   He has a sharpshooter mentality and his game revolves around it.  As a freshman, the pressure didn't get to Booker who shot 41 percent from behind the arc.  Booker also shot 47 percent from the field and 82 percent from the charity stripe.  Those numbers resemble the shooting confidence Booker possesses.  Combine that with being a freshman on one of the most talented collegiate teams in college basketball history, and that shows the upside this 18-year-old has.

Being the youngest player in the draft, you could argue Booker has the most potential of all the draftees. With competition obviously rising next season, Booker's numbers have a high probability of going down.  In years to come though, being coached the correct way Booker could help continue this shooting trend the "Splash Brothers" have created, which is why Golden State is in the position they are.

Weaknesses:

While Booker's shooting has put him into a potential lottery pick, his weaknesses might overpower that potential.  Being a one-dimensional player waves red flags for many teams looking to draft Booker.  First off, being 6'6" he lacks the bulk needed to defend more athletic and quicker players.  Also, Booker isn't a great ball handler.  When going to the rim, he is sporadic at times, which makes him not the best finisher.  Another head scratcher, with him being such a great 3-point shooter, is he only made 28 percent of his 2-point jump shots this season.

I like thinking where Booker can be as a player one day, but right now his game will take a heavy transition to equate what he did in college.  If he can bulk up and use his size to balance out his lack of speed, he can become a great defensive asset.

Booker's weaknesses are all attributes that could be improved upon.  With his youth, it is safe to say his best basketball is far ahead of him.  If he can bulk up, improve at the rim and become diverse instead of a one-dimensional sharpshooter, investing in his stock can be worthwhile in years down the road.

Fit with Hornets:

As most Hornets fanatics probably know, Charlotte finished dead last in 3-point shooting in the NBA (31.8 percent).  They also finished in the bottom three for points per game (94.2) and were the second worst shooting team (42 percent).

Being at or near the bottom in these categories is huge wake up call that this team needs scoring.

When looking at Booker, he definitely can assist in the 3-point shooting category.  His college numbers promote that he is a pure shooter but not a scorer.  This is where Booker can seem to be a reach for the ninth pick.

Can he fit with the Hornets?  Yes, I believe he can.  Is he the right fit for the ninth pick?  No, I don't believe so.  I believe Booker will still be available around the 12-14 ranges, and if Charlotte wants him I'd recommend trading down to maximize their potential of the ninth slot.  Booker isn't the type of player to come in and steal the show.  Maybe down the road he can but for the next few years through his maturation, he will be a groomed wing player to help the lackluster offense Charlotte has.  With the high hopes going into last season and coming up extremely short, Charlotte needs to make roster moves to be good now.  They drafted P.J. Hairston in the first round last year and still need to give him time to develop.  There is no need to have two first round draft picks try and develop in the same role back-to-back years unless Booker fell in Charlotte's lap somehow.

Mock Drafts:

Booker is projected to go as high as No. 9 to the Hornets or No. 17 to the Bucks.

Draft Express 12th
CBS Sports 9th-12th

NBA Draft.net

10th
The Lottery Mafia 13th
ESPN's Chad Ford 9th
SI.com 17th