On top of the 11th pick, the Charlotte Hornets also have the 55th pick in the 2018 NBA draft. Although not a great position, players such as Patty Mills and E’Twaun Moore were picked here in their respective drafts, and both were able to become successful NBA players. Today, we are going to look at that 55th pick and choose between the “starting five” of prospects.
PG: Jevon Carter
When analyzing Jevon Carter, one thing drastically stands out: defense. At 6’2”, 200 pounds, he has the size and physique to be a threat on the defensive end. Carter received the NABC Defensive Player of the Year award twice in college, and he starred in Bob Huggins’ press defense schemes in all four seasons. This past season, he held Trae Young to 36 percent from the field and 25 percent from 3, and he held the Kansas State backcourt to 5-for-23 shooting. On top of the suffocating defense, Carter has the ability to poke the ball loose and create transition opportunities off steals.
Here’s a compilation of Carter’s defense against Oklahoma.
Lockdown Defense. Jevon Carter now has a nation-leading 55 steals this season. pic.twitter.com/PXoaezI2na— WVU Basketball (@WVUhoops) January 7, 2018
But Carter isn’t just a one-dimensional player. On the offensive end, he can create and score at an efficient rate. In his senior season at WVU, he scored 17.3 points and tallied 6.6 assists on very impressive 39 percent shooting from beyond the arc. This all-around play style should carry over to the NBA.
The player that stands out to me when thinking about Carter is former Knicks head coach and longtime NBA journeyman, Derek Fisher. I believe both have the ability to fully run NBA offenses, while also maintaining the intensity and sheer determination on the defensive end. With the Hornets desperately needing a backup point guard, it seems like a no-brainer to at least consider Javon Carter if he’s still available (and if they don’t go point guard with the 11th pick). This type of two-way play from the point guard is one of, if not the most important need in this draft for the team.
SG: Rawle Alkins
Atkins was a highly respected and acknowledged player coming out of high school, and he was ranked the number one amateur player in NY before committing to Arizona. However, that hype has since dwindled. He was overshadowed by teammates Deandre Ayton and Lauri Markkanen, who was or will be a Top 10 pick in their respected drafts. But, Alkins still has shown his capabilities in his time with the Wildcats.
In two seasons, he averaged 11.8 points and 2.5 rebounds while shooting 36.5 percent from 3. Although not eye-popping statistics, it’s still considered respectable for potential second-round picks. At 6’5”, 220 pounds, he can cover guards in the NBA. His incredible athleticism is also a major plus in regarding his defensive potential.
Here’s a clip of Alkins in a game against USC. Look at that athleticism!
Alkins slipped down the draft order thanks to foot injuries that sidelined him time and time again. This alone may be a big enough red flag for NBA teams. Players such as Amile Jefferson and Da’Sean Butler have decimated their NBA careers thanks to injuries sustained in college.
My comparison for Alkins is former Charlotte Hornet Lance Stephenson. Both display similar playing styles while using their impressive athleticism to an advantage against the opponent’s frontcourt. Overall, Atkins has the tools to be a modern NBA two guard, but he lacks experience and his health that may end up hurting him in the draft.
SF: Theo Pinson
Pinson was the prototypical energy man in college. He always hustled and provided the little things that gave a positive effect on his team. His impact may not be seen on the box score, but similar to Cody Zeller, Pinson makes everyone better.
This is partly because Pinson possesses exceptional IQ. He always seems to make the right plays as he is regarded as the “swiss army knife.” He is also a good defender, and his length and explosive athleticism place him as one of the nation’s best. However, he might be a bit undersized compared to the modern NBA small forward.
The main weakness for Pinson is his shooting. In today’s league, shooting from players, especially wings, is essential to team success. However, over the course of four seasons, Pinson managed to shoot just 25.7 percent from three. Pinson’s outside shooting must improve if he is to stick in the league.
That’s why his player comparison is a lesser version of Hornets wing Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Of course, Pinson has a long ways to go to even be on the same level defensively as MKG, but the lack of a jump shot and ability to do the little things right draws too much comparison between the two.
PF: Billy Preston
Preston is the most interesting of selection on this list. A five-star recruit of out high school, Preston committed to Kansas. It seemed to be a perfect match, but controversy arose after Preston was caught on campus with a car that did not match his previously acknowledged “financial class” before attending the university. This lead to a 67-day investigation by the university in order to get a “clearer financial picture” about the vehicle. As a result, Preston left KU without ever playing a game and decided to play for a team in Bosnia. After just three games, Preston left and declared for the NBA Draft.
With no game tape since high school, it’s hard to judge Preston. The consensus among analysts is that he is an all-around offensive package. He has the ability to knock down a consistent mid-range and is developing the deep ball. He also displays great ball handling, which is uncommon for a big man. And like most big men, Preston has the ability to box out and rebound at an efficient pace.
In the end, what you get in Billy Preston is a high-risk, high-reward player.
C: Goga Bitadze
Now here’s someone I’m sure you never heard of. Goga Bitadze is a 6’ 11”, 240 pound center who plays for the Mega Leks in Serbia. You are probably wondering why on Earth the Hornets would consider drafting someone who plays halfway across the world? Bitadze has defensive intensity down low, and plays well in the pick-and-roll. He has the key sense to chase down any potential shots in the paint, and he has the size to go up against the NBA’s premier post scorers due to his massive frame. He also seems to never be out of a play. As seen in the highlights below, Bitadze has the ability to move from the baseline to the center of the basket to alter shots without any limitations. On the offensive end, Bitezde has shown a great pick and roll game. He has the strength to use effective picks and allow himself easy opportunities near the baskets to score.
His main two weaknesses are perimeter defense and shooting the 3 ball. Bitadze is slow at times getting to his assignment. He also has difficulty when opponents drive inside and gets blown by too often. During two of the four leagues he played this year, he only was able to knock down 26 percent of 3-pointers His jump shot isn’t the best and could be tweaked as he transitions into the league.
But, if the Hornets were to draft Bitezde, he may be stashed overseas. Similar to Boston Celtics forward Guerschon Yabusele, Bitadze still needs more time to craft his skills in order to be ready and play in the NBA. Being only 18, he has plenty of time to develop into the NBA player the Hornets need.
Out of these five players, who should the Hornets draft?
This poll is closed