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Charlotte Hornets NBA Draft Preview: Kristaps Porzingis

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If Kristaps Porzingis falls low enough, should the Hornets take a chance on the stretch big man out of Europe?

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Many had never heard of him until a few months ago, but Kristaps Porzingis has been on expert's radars since last year's NBA Draft. 10 days before the deadline, Porzingis pulled out of the draft believing he could improve his stock, and NBA readiness with another year spent in Europe. Well mission accomplished, Porzingis is now a potential top five pick in this year's draft, but with all the hype comes with just as many questions.

Measurements and Statistics

Minutes Points Rebounds Assists Steals Blocks Turnovers Fouls
21.7 10.7 4.8 0.4 0.9 1.0 1.3 2.9
FGs FGA FG% FTM FTA FT% 3Ps 3PA 3PT%
4.0 8.6 47.1 1.9 2.5 77.4 0.7 2.4 31.3

Stats from DraftExpress

Porzingis measurements are unlisted on Draft Express, but this tweet from Chad Ford should give an idea to what physical tools he brings.

Strengths

What Kristaps Porzingis really brings to the NBA, more than anything else, is some absolutely incredible measurements. We might not know very much officially, but one thing that's for sure is this guy is tall, long, and has a frame that he should be able to grow into very nicely. After all, he's only 19 years old and everybody knows what happens to young guys once they start working with personal trainers in the NBA. The kid is gonna bulk up, and when he does, he should be a physical monster.

On top of his physical traits, Porzingis brings a stretch four mentality that many NBA teams want out of their power forwards these days. His size allows him to shoot over just about any defender in the NBA, and he makes the big men that can guard him uncomfortable by dragging them out to the 3-point arc. Not only that, but Porzingis can further keep defenders on their toes with some surprising athleticism from a guy his size, and a jumpshot that works even better in the mid-range game. Give Porzingis the space, and he'll make any defender pay for playing off of him. Play too close up, and he'll drive by and use his insane size and athleticism to get an easy dunk.

It's because of Porzingis incredible athletcism and size that teams are so big on what he can become. Right now, he shows the potential to be an incredible rim protector next to any center in the NBA. Getting across the floor on help defense won't be a problem, and his 7-foot-6 wingspan will allow him to guard anybody in the NBA on his own. If Porzingis reaches his ceiling, he could be one of the best players in the NBA when he turns 24.

Weaknesses

However, the high reward Porzingis brings comes with incredible risk. At the moment, Porzingis physical tools are what's fueling his momentum on draft boards, and why he's such a heralded prospect. The problem is there's questions on if he knows how to use that skill, or if he will ever learn how to use them properly. Despite being such a good shooter, Porzingis didn't shoot a 3-pointer in half of his games this season. Even though he's over seven feet tall, he only managed to pull down five rebounds per game, and this has raised questions about his toughness. There was a reluctance to battle down low, avoiding contact, and was a little slow to react at times. Players with motors would eat a guy like him alive on the boards, and how he's going to be an NBA rim protector if he's avoiding contact.

There's also worries about Porzingis currently very thin body. He still has plenty of time to bulk up, and that shouldn't be a problem in the NBA, but he'll need to go to a team that develops him properly. Recent franchises known for injuries such as the Los Angeles Lakers and Chicago Bulls would not be a good place for a player that shows the possibility of getting injured early on in his career.

Really, this is the biggest factor a team should make before drafting Porzingis. He has all the potential in the world, but there's a lot of development here, and he has to go to the right team. A team that wants an immediate impact from their draft pick should not take on Porzingis. He's 19, thin, and doesn't quite know where he needs to be on the court yet. A lot of the good parts to his game will shine through in time, but his flaws will have to be addressed first. If those aren't taken care of early on then this could easily be a bust.

Fit with Hornets

As for how Porzingis fits with the Hornets, he certainly fills a shooting need. The skill he enters the draft with that everybody is fairly sure will translate over is his ability to shoot a jumpshot. Stick him in a corner to stretch the floor, and ask him to give some effort on defense and he'll be a solid piece.

However, are the Hornets willing to spend the time and energy on Porzingis if he falls all the way to ninth in the draft? He's not a full on project, but his lack of a guarantee might force the Hornets to pick elsewhere. They don't really have the room to give him minutes and properly develop him among their already stocked frontcourt. There's just too many players playing the same spot, in similar roles, to give the proper time needed towards Porzingis development. That said, with potential like his, it's gonna be really hard to pass up on him if he actually does fall this far.

Mock Drafts

CBS Sports 3rd-5th
ESPN 3rd
Draft Express 4th
NBADraft.net 5thh
The Lottery Mafia 8th