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Hornets NBA Draft Preview: Second-Round Prospects

For all the talk about who the Hornets will draft with the ninth pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, they still have a second-round pick which could be used in a few different ways. Here's a brief breakdown of some players I hope the Hornets are targeting with their second-round selection.

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Obviously, the focus in Charlotte (among front office executives and fans alike) in the 2015 NBA Draft is with the first-round pick, where the Hornets will be selecting in the top ten yet again, with another high pick at number nine in the draft. But the second-round pick still holds value too, as recent drafts have seen second-round picks like Draymond Green, Khris Middleton, Mike Scott, Lance Stephenson, Chandler Parsons, Isaiah Thomas, and Jeff Taylor Kyle O'Quinn all carve out valuable roles with their teams so far.

Holding the 39th overall pick in this year's draft, the Charlotte Hornets will likely have an opportunity to draft an additional asset for their team later in the draft. Here is a brief list and breakdown of a few players I think will both be in range for the Hornets at the 39th pick and have the ability to contribute to the team.

(NOTE: Before I get to the list, here's a list of players that I won't be breaking down: Cliff Alexander is currently projected as a first-round pick; Anthony Brown, who I like a lot, almost definitely will not be available to the Hornets-- and same with Jonathan Holmes; Robert Upshaw's off-the-court issues almost make his on-court abilities irrelevant to his draft stock; Pat Connaughton is almost definitely going to play professional baseball and might not be the best use of a draft pick.)

Nikola Milutinov: Milutinov is interesting, as he's already suffered from some injuries and a downtick in his on-court production, but he had a very good season in the Adriatic League last year and continued his solid play in the Eurocup, and he won't turn 21 until the end of this year. He's a tall center who could benefit from some added bulk to his frame, but already is a very good rebounder with good positioning. He's an above-average defender even though he's not going to make a difference with his shot-blocking, but he won't be a go-to player on offense, even off the bench. Adding size and muscle probably won't be too difficult for Milutinov, and he's got nice lateral quickness, so his floor is pretty high even if his ceiling isn't that great. There are a lot worse options in the second round.

Arturas Gudaitis: I had him projected to go 30th to the Warriors in my mock draft, but I don't know everything, especially when it comes to predicting the future, so Gudaitis could slip a bit and fall to the Hornets at 39. What they'd end up getting, if they choose to pick Gudaitis, is a quality athlete who can play the center position despite being a little undersized for the position (although he is 6'10", 255 pounds, so it's probably not that big a deal). Gudaitis is already a very physical player and a quality rebounder, which bodes well for his potential to contribute to an NBA team into the future, and although he, like Milutinov, isn't a go-to scorer, he's pretty efficient and active in a lot of other ways on offense (off-ball cuts, setting screens, etc). The knocks on him are his age (already 22 years old, but has been playing well at a high level for a few years), and his feel for the game, displaying questionable fundamentals on defense, although he certainly has the athleticism to be a quality defender in the future. With the right coaching and the right system, he could easily develop those traits and round out his game. I think he would've been a first-rounder in 2014 had he declared then, and he probably should still be. I really like his fit with the Hornets.

Mouhammadou Jaiteh: Mam Jaiteh is definitely the most raw of the foreign centers named in this article, but his game's a little more refined than you would think given that description. His potential isn't off the charts, but I do think that his presence on the team would be a little redundant if Bismack Biyombo is retained. That said, he's still a solid player with potential (20 years old!), and he could be a solid draft-and-stash player even if Biyombo is back in Charlotte in the future.

Joseph Young: Young's a good scorer. He can play both guard spots, can score in a lot of different ways, and can shoot. He's not a deadeye shooter the same way that other college guards known for their shooting are, but he'll be a solid shooter in the NBA no matter what role he's used in, thanks to his ability to knock down shots from just about any set. He needs to improve his driving a bit...a lot, but offensively he'll be fine. He's not a strong passer, and he'll struggle on defense, but if they don't mind a player whose primary, if not only, value will come with his ability to score the ball from outside, Young could help the team a lot.

Dakari Johnson: For his age, Dakari Johnson is already set in a lot of ways. He's already NBA-size for a big man (7'0", 265 pounds with room to add some more bulk), his game looks like you would want it to at this age, and his basketball IQ is pretty high. Despite his lack of explosive athleticism, he's one of the toughest physical players I've ever seen at the top ranks of college ball, and his high-motor, high-intensity play leads him to make more plays on the defensive end than you would expect from him. He's a terrific rebounder on the offensive end. He's a high-efficiency type, although limited on offense, but he's a solid passer and makes most of his shot attempts. He won't have the ceiling that some other players do, but I'm most sure that Johnson carves out an NBA role of any second-round prospect. (One further note on Johnson: I have seen many people in many places clamor for Rakeem Christmas, but even though I was Christmas' biggest fan when the entire Syracuse fanbase turned against him, I see Christmas as a version of Dakari Johnson who's a couple years older but not any more advanced. Basically: if you want a Christmas-type player, draft Johnson instead if he's available.)

Cedi Osman: Osman might not be a knockdown shooter from range just yet, but he's a playmaker in a lot of different ways. He's terrific in transition, can handle the ball in the halfcourt and find teammates, and his basketball IQ is very high. His shooting mechanics are, well, quite bad, which means that he has the potential to become a much better shooter than he currently is, even if that development might take a couple years. He's very aggressive on drives and can use his body, although he's a little too thin to finish through contact at the NBA (which could be fixed, or at least improved, with some time in the weight room), but he knows his limitations and will play to his strengths unless specifically called upon by his team and coach to play a different role. Osman isn't the strongest player just yet, but he's versatile enough to fill different roles, his passing ability would help out every NBA team, and he's got plenty of room for improvement. Also, he was in this absolutely terrific Head & Shoulders commercial for Turkish television.

There's a few other players in the second round who will also have the potential to turn into solid players in the NBA, but these are the six I like best. Of course, everyone has their favorite late-round draft picks every year, and only a few of those ever pan out into quality NBA players. I think the Hornets could benefit from taking a player in this group in the second-round.