The 2015 NBA Draft is tomorrow, and the Charlotte Hornets have the ninth pick. There's been a lot of talk everywhere about whether Charlotte would keep their pick, trade up, trade down, or maybe even trade down all together. At the moment however, Charlotte has a pick, and mock drafts everywhere have been predicting what players the Hornets will take.
Sam Vecenie: Devin Booker (and a trade with the Pacers)
Zach Harper: Willie Cauley-Stein
Gary Parrish: Devin Booker
Like many other places, CBS Sports is leaning towards Devin Booker being the guy that the Hornets go for. His shooting touch is something the Hornets are in need of, and there's a lot of room for future growth in other areas of his game. Although, Sam Vecenie went the long way around by originally having the Hornets draft Willie Cauley-Stein, and then trading him to the Indiana Pacers for Booker. This is an interesting method the Hornets may use to get their guy, and possibly add a vet like they've been talking about.
However, Zach Harper went a different route and had the Hornets taking Willie Cauley-Stein with the ninth pick outright. Booker was not off his board, and Harper said that WCS would be a good addition for the Hornets defense. With so many people caught up on the Hornets lack of shooting, it's been overlooked that Charlotte's defense did take a bit of a step back last season. It was inconsistent, and adding a rim protecting big man next to the aging Al Jefferson would definitely not be a bad choice.
Once again, the Hornets are being connected to arguably the best shooter in the draft in Booker. It makes sense with the Hornets shooting troubles last year, and their tendency to draft super young prospects, why wouldn't they draft Booker?
Stop if you've heard this one before, but Devin Booker is being connected to the Charlotte Hornets as the player they're most likely taking in this year's draft. This guy must have no flaws at all right?
Well no, Booker has plenty of flaws. One of them being that right now the only NBA skill he has shown is shooting. No other areas of his game are very well developed, and taking a guy just cause they can shoot isn't always the best idea when drafting. Anybody remember Jimmer Fredette?
That said, Booker is only 19 so it's hard to say he has no chance of improving on all of these flaws, and getting better in all the areas that he's so under developed in.
Now this is an interesting one. Payne has shot up draft boards over the last few weeks, and it was reported awhile back that the Hornets had interest in him. The problem is that he struggles shooting, and Charlotte just signed Kemba Walker to a fairly large long term contract. Taking Payne would either be a really strong reach for a backup point guard, a sign that the Kemba Walker era is nearing its end, or just a case of taking the best player available.
The Lottery Mafia
The Lottery Mafia hasn't been updated since early June, but this is just a reminder that the Hornets were at one point commonly linked to Stanley Johnson. Considered by many to be an NBA ready wing, Johnson comes in with great measurements, and the ability to contribute right away. He has the potential to continue to get better, and could be a good 3-and-D player over time.
The problem? Stanley Johnson didn't want to workout for the Hornets, and this didn't seem to be a case of him thinking he was going to go higher. Johnson reportedly wants to either go to Miami at 10, or somewhere higher than nine. Looks like he doesn't want to be in Charlotte, and that alone creates a red flag when considering drafting him.
What the Hornets will do
Most mock drafts are pointing towards Devin Booker, and unless this is the greatest smokescreen in NBA history, it's hard to not see Charlotte taking him with their pick. However, if Booker were to go early, Willie Cauley-Stein is a potential backup plan for Charlotte. A lot of his skills would slide in nicely to what the Hornets are trying to do at the moment, and as an added bonus he said in his workout that he wants be in Charlotte. Hard to pass on a guy like that.
Of course, don't be surprised to hear the Hornets involved in all kinds of trade rumors throughout draft night. It's not a secret that the team wants to add a veteran to their roster, or that they're willing to trade their pick to do it. Don't be surprised if Charlotte finds a deal they like and ends up moving back in the draft. A trade isn't guaranteed, but it's definitely in the realm of possibility.
All of that said, it'll be pretty surprising if the Hornets twitter account is tweeting about Devin Booker Friday morning.