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An early look at what the 2018 NBA Draft entails for the Hornets

It’s officially the offseason for the Charlotte Hornets. Before any of the draft madness begins, we take an early look at what the Hornets could do this summer, and who they could draft.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Second Round Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Charlotte Hornets have a direction. After Mitch Kupchak fired Steve Clifford less than a week after their final game of the season, the Charlotte Hornets are looking to (at the very least) re-tool the team, starting with the coaches. Let’s take a look at what the draft entails for the Hornets.

Potential Trades?

There are many possible draft night trades for the Hornets, the most prominent of the bunch a possible trade involving Kemba Walker. With only one year left on his agreement, Walker recently said he was “tired of missing the playoffs.” If rebuilding is the direction of the Charlotte Hornets, it appears as if they don’t really have a choice as to whether to trade Walker.

If Walker is dealt, here are some potential packages:

Hornets receive: Nets First-Round pick, Jordan Clarkson

Cavaliers receive: Kemba Walker

Cleveland will likely do everything in their power to keep Lebron James from leaving. This includes attempting to trade for Kemba Walker. Jordan Clarkson will become an instantaneous improvement over Michael Carter-Williams and might even start depending on if the Hornets draft a point-guard or not. As of now, the Brooklyn Nets hold the eighth pick in the draft, but that is likely to change depending on how the ping pong balls fall in the draft lottery.

Hornets receive: Suns First-Round pick, Marquese Chriss

Suns receive: Hornets First-Round pick, Kemba Walker

This trade benefits both teams’ goals. The Hornets get younger and obtain a draft pick that will probably land in the top 3, while the Suns get Walker, who will drastically help a Phoenix team that wants to be competitive very soon. The Hornets would likely land Luka Doncic, DeAndre Ayton, Jaren Jackson, or Marvin Bagley with this pick.

Hornets receive: Tyler Ulis, Dragan Bender, 16th overall pick

Suns receive: Kemba Walker

In this timeline, the Hornets receive Dragan Bender, a developmental big who can stretch the floor. They also get the 16th overall pick, which could be used on Lonnie Walker, Zhaire Smith, or possibly even Robert Williams.

After these three scenarios for these two teams, it becomes very hard to infer what teams would have interest in Walker.

Who are some potential Hornets with the 11th pick?

Mikal Bridges

The Villanova wing is one of the most NBA-ready players in this year’s draft cycle. Last year for the NCAA Champion Wildcats, Bridges posted 18 points, five rebounds, three assists, two steals, and one block per game. In the event that he drops to the Hornets (should they stay put), Charlotte should strongly consider selecting him. Bridges have one of the highest basketball IQs in the draft, and he also is the best perimeter defender. All in all, this would be the best-case-scenario for Charlotte.

Collin Sexton

The Charlotte Hornets have a major need at backup point-guard. They also might have a strong need for a starting point-guard soon if Walker is traded. Sexton could be a marvelous replacement. He is a score-first point-guard with clamps on defense as well. His game is very comparable to Eric Bledsoe. A Collin Sexton/Malik Monk backcourt could be very deadly in the future.

Kevin Knox

Charlotte could use a small forward that has an offensive skill-set. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist didn’t exactly have an exceptional end-of-season run. In fact, he averaged nine points, four rebounds, and two assists this year. MKG could be a great bench piece, but shouldn’t be a starter. Kevin Knox could be the guy that takes that role. The 6’9” forward has a great offensive game but it certainly could use some work. Knox isn’t quick, but his athleticism and size help him in many circumstances. He averaged 16 points, five rebounds, and one assist for Kentucky. Knox has a solid jump-shot that should translate to the NBA.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

Another PG, Gilgeous Alexander really turned up big for the Kentucky Wildcats in their 2018 NCAA tournament run after beating Tennessee to win the SEC championship. SGA is an unfinished product who is comparable to Frank Ntilikina of last year’s draft on defense. He has all of the physical tools needed to be a successful NBA player. SGA doesn’t play like a true guard, however. He often gets too focused on scoring instead of looking for open teammates. Again, a Malik Monk/Shai Gilgeous-Alexander backcourt could be very fun to watch.

Miles Bridges

The other Bridges, Miles, was one of the most electric and versatile players in college basketball this season. Bridges has incredible strength as a combo-forward and can take over a game at any time. Bridges is a great rebounder and has great passing for his position. His main detriment is his size and perimeter skills. Bridges is a “tweener”, meaning that coaches and scouts are unsure whether or not he will play small forward or power forward. Bridges does not have a fluid shot and spends the majority of time in the paint. Bridges would operate in the SF/PF rotation for Charlotte if drafted.

The Charlotte Hornets cannot miss in this draft. If they truly want a fresh start, there is almost no better way to do so than by absolutely winning this draft. Every draft is important, but when there’s a new general manager, nothing would make him more popular amongst the fans than grabbing a spectacular player for the future.