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Charlotte Hornets NBA Draft Preview: Sam Dekker

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Sam Dekker is great all across the board, but his inconsistency waves red flags. Charlotte has already stated they are taking the best available player with the ninth pick. Will Dekker meet that standard?

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Introduction

Meet Sam Dekker, a 6'9" junior out of Wisconsin who helped the Badgers beat the then-undefeated Kentucky Wildcats in the Final Four, denying them the chance to become the first team to finish the season unbeaten since Indiana in 1976.

Dekker, 21 years old, became a superstar for Wisconsin shooting over 60 percent from the field in the NCAA Tournament. However, it wasn't a picture perfect ending for the junior's last game in a Badgers jersey. Dekker and Wisconsin would lose to Jahlil Okafor and Duke in the national championship game. He would forego his senior year and declare for the NBA Draft four days later.

Dekker began accumulating accolades in high school at Sheboygan Lutheran in Wisconsin. He was named the Wisconsin Gatorade Player of the Year, Parade All-American, 2012 Wisconsin Mr. Basketball, AP First Team All-State, and a 2012 McDonald's All-American nominee who participated in both the All-American Championship and the Basketball Classic. This season, he was named to the 2015 Second Team All Big Ten. He was also a Julius Erving Award Finalist, and a Naismith and Wooden Award candidate, and even named to the U.S. Basketball Writers Association Oscar Robertson Trophy Midseason Watch List.

Measurements and Statistics

Height w/o shoes Height w/ shoes Weight Wingspan Standing Reach Body Fat
6' 7.75" 6' 9" 219 6' 11.5" 8' 10"

7.5

Minutes Points Rebounds Assists Steals Blocks Turnovers Fouls
31.0 13.9 5.5 1.2 0.5 0.5 0.9 1.1

FG FGA FG% FT FTA FT%
5.3 10.2 52.5 2.0 2.8 70.8

* Denotes junior season at Wisconsin

Strengths

Let's start with the offensive side. With a 6'9", 219-pound body, Dekker has the build needed to play in the NBA. For being known to have a perimeter game, he shot 64 percent this season from inside the arc and averaged 13.9 points per game this season. On Wisconsin, Dekker had the confidence to fit in where needed with the team. Accepting his secondary role on the team thanks to Frank Kaminsky allowed the Badgers gel. Dekker offers a rare athleticism for his size and weight. Being athletic grants him the ability to play small forward, power forward, or even shooting guard. He moves off the ball well and has the ability make quick, backdoor cuts to finish at the rim. With that athleticism, Dekker is great with the off-dribble jumper. He can tear apart your defense with one or two dribbles and pull up for a shot.

On defense, Dekker overall is not an elite NBA defender. His size does allow him to defend perimeter players and stand-up forwards, however. He moves extremely well laterally. When getting beat, he shows a tremendous effort recovering on the play. Being a model for versatility, he is willing to sacrifice his body on the low block, too.

Overall, Dekker has a ton of role player potential. He has a small number of holes in his game and can do just about everything.

Weaknesses

When it comes to Dekker, his biggest downside is his inconsistency. When he's hot, the game can be taken over in flash. However, he can get into slumps, and this is where the red flags come from. For example, after coming off a string of hot games in the NCAA Tournament, I then pondered if maybe Dekker was the best Badger on team. He headed into the biggest game of his career with the national title on the line. Dekker choked and shot 0-for-6 from 3-point land. He also had his worst shooting percentage game and scored his fewest points of the tournament in the national championship loss to Duke.

During his three-year tenure at Wisconsin, Dekker's 3-point percentage descended from his freshman year (39.1, 32.6, 33.1). He is also a 69 percent free throw shooter. His shots have an extreme arch and he shoots with a bit of a flinging motion, which often makes the ball not come out fluidly. These traits would make me think twice about drafting someone who might not have much upside left.

Dekker is good at pretty much everything but not great at any one thing.

Fit with Hornets:

As we all know, the Charlotte Hornets weren't great when it came to scoring last season. In fact, they finished in the bottom three or worse in points per game, 3-point shooting, and shooting percentage.

If Dekker can improve his inconsistency, he will definitely assist the Hornets in improving their offense. He has been sky-rocketing up draft boards for a reason: The maturity of his game has made him one of the most NBA ready wings in the draft.

Being able to play three different positions would benefit the Hornets. With Noah Vonleh healthy, the two could be a great duo in a few years. A couple weeks back I would have said the ninth pick in the draft was too high for Dekker, but with his stock rising he might not even be available at nine.

Mock Drafts:

Dekker is projected to go as high as No. 8 to the Detroit Pistons or as low as No. 23 to the Portland Trail Blazers.

Source Projection
Draft Express 16
CBS Sports 15-16
NBA Draft.net 14
The Lottery Mafia 16
ESPN's Chad Ford 8
SI.com 23