As the 2018 free agency period nears, the majority of NBA teams lack cap flexibility. The Charlotte Hornets are among them. Today, we are going to look at three potential players the team could sign with using the Mid-Level Exception or MLE ($8,826,000).
Mitch Kupchak said the following in the post-draft press conference:
“I don’t think you can have enough [point guards] at that position... we’re looking to perhaps add another position to the backcourt.”
This indicates that the team is still searching for a backup point guard. Could Dante Exum be the option?
Exum has yet to translate into his expected potential since he was drafted 5th overall in 2014, but he has recently made dramatic improvements to his games that can greatly help the Charlotte Hornets.
In four seasons, Exum has not been able to have the time to showcase his skills to the Jazz. Excluding his rookie year where he played all 82 games, Exum has only played in 80 games since, which accounts to just 33 percent. Injuries have ranged from his shoulder to hamstring, and he has constantly missed games due to soreness in those respective areas. However, when healthy, Exum has the characteristics of a perfect addition to the Hornets.
His most notable asset is his defense. At 6’6, 180 pounds, he has the physical frame of a small forward at the point guard position, and he has shown a unique ability to smother opposing guards.
Here’s a clip of Exum against NBA superstar James Harden.
Defense isn’t his only calling card. He has shown the means of facilitating an NBA offense at times as his assist percentage for his career is 17 percent. This allows his team to become a very versatile offense, as he provides another ball handler on the court, which makes the defense work that much harder.
He fits with the Hornets in many ways. First, he is a great compliment piece with Nicolas Batum. If both players are on the floor together, it gives opposing teams trouble as they both use their above-average frame on both the defensive and facilitating the offense. This opens up doors for the Hornets to slot in more spot-up shooters like Marvin Williams and Frank Kaminsky, who can greatly benefit having multiple players giving them open shots.
Exum is also a great fit alongside Malik Monk. Monk was scrutinized by former Hornets coach Steve Clifford as not having the it factor on defense. This is where Exum can become a pivotal role for the team. He can play either the one or two alongside Monk, and he can help him create open opportunities for him in the halfcourt. He can also defend the better scorer of the two opposing guards, which greatly helps Monk’s ability to conserve his energy for the offensive end.
Injuries aside, the Hornets could become a more versatile offensive and defensive team with Dante Exum on the floor.
He will be an unrestricted free agent this summer after the Hornets declined to pick up his qualifying offer, which makes the timing of this portion a little awkward, but hear out my case for Graham anyways.
Graham has been my favorite player on the Hornets over the past two seasons. He has displayed both physical and mental aspects of the game of basketball that should persuade the Hornets into resigning him this offseason.
Since being undrafted in 2016, Graham has always played with that mental chip on his shoulder. This mental aggression made him one of the team’s best defenders. At 6’6, 220 pounds, he uses every ounce of his body against the opposing offense. From diving after loose balls to running over the other side of halfcourt for a steal opportunity, Graham has always played at 110 percent since arriving in Charlotte. This defensive prowess has opened up Graham to be more versatile for the team. He had spurts at both the shooting guard and small forward last year, and he didn’t disappoint at providing the team with the non-box score decisions and moves.
On the offensive end, Graham beats opposing teams primarily with his 3-ball. Out of all the players with at least 90 triples last season, he ranks second on the team behind Marvin Williams in 3-point percentage. This deep-ball shooting, especially at the corners, helps with the team’s spacing.
He could also be a great complimentary piece to the Hornets new rookie Miles Bridges. Both display relative offensive and defensive characteristics, and although Bridges is by far the better athlete, both use the same techniques of generating offense. The team could have lineups with the athleticism and deep-range shots that have yet to be unlocked. A lineup of Monk, Jeremy Lamb, Graham, Bridges, and Williams would be strong in transition. Pair that up with highly-athletic players and the Hornets could have something brewing this season.
The physical display that Treveon Graham has displayed over the last two seasons should convince the Hornets to contemplate his potential arrival back to Buzz City.
With Dwight Howard’s recent departure, Jerami Grant could be the missing frontcourt piece that allows the Hornets to reach its offensive potential.
Jerami Grant has become a swiss army knife for teams ever since he entered the league in 2014. At 6’8, 210 pounds, he can virtually guard all five positions. His 7’3 wingspan has also allowed him to suffocate multiple positions in the league. But the main reason why he isn’t considered a starting caliber option is that of his inconsistencies. He does so many things well, but doesn’t excel in any one category. On the offensive side, Grant shows an ability to slash inside with great efficiency. Whether that’s from running in transition or cutting across the baseline, he finds ways to score in the paint at an effective rate.
The reason why he can be a contributing factor to this team is his age and his NBA comparison. Grant is surprisingly only 24 years old, so he has the time to develop a better 3-point shot. His age also brings up the possibility of signing him to a long-term deal without seeing any signs of age regression. His 3-point shot has increased from 28 to 33 percent since arriving in OKC, so it’s a realistic thought that he can translate into a 37 percent in the future, a mark that is slightly above league average.
Grant, in my eyes, is a younger version of Houston Rockets wing Luc Mbah A Moute. He has the ability to become the team’s stretch four or perhaps five at times if head coach James Borrego wants to play with a small lineup. He could also be placed in front of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist in the starting lineup at times to provide the outside shooting that MKG doesn’t have. Each of these placements can help the Hornets become more versatile on both ends of the ball.
All in all, Grant could become the team’s utility man that they have been searching for since Steven Jackson left the team in 2011.
Out of these three players, who should the Hornets sign using the MLE?
This poll is closed