The NBA Draft is the most unpredictable, destiny-driven, crapshoot there is in sports. Nobody knows who is going to be good or who is going to be a flat-out bust. That is what makes the event so incredibly fun. Sure, the Hornets are known for picking painfully average players above perennial superstars, but would you rather have Devin Booker or Frank Kaminsky? It’s obviously Frank Kaminsky, right?
While you think on that, let’s take a look at who the experts predict the Hornets will take in a couple weeks:
We’re going to try the #FanSidedMock thing here again, Hornets fans. I understand Gilgeous-Alexander isn’t much of a consolation prize after a disappointing season and complete reset in the front office, but he just might be the best player available here. In addition, the Hornets are facing decision time on Kemba Walker and will soon need a replacement ball-handler.
The freshman was incredibly efficient leading the young Wildcats over the course of the season, getting better game by game. He is 6-6 with legitimate lead ball-handler skills, a rarity with clear value, especially considering the way the league’s best teams play. The Hornets have very little young talent, but Gilgeous-Alexander is the type of player who would smoothly make everyone better, from stretch big Frank Kaminsky to Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, a sweet fit on defense who needs support as a scorer.
My take: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander seems to be the consensus pick among Hornets bloggers. His length and fluidity are rare for a point-guard and he should be a plus defender almost instantly. Gilgeous-Alexander could use some work on his jump-shot but made strides at the end of the season for the Kentucky Wildcats with his scoring. SGA would fit in very nicely alongside Malik Monk and might even replace All-Star guard Kemba Walker in the long run, should Charlotte choose to trade him.
Bridges should be a draft-night target for the Hornets, who need offense from both forward spots. He would work best as a small-ball stretch 4 alongside Dwight Howard, though continued progress on his shot-creating and off-the-dribble scoring should mean Bridges could also play next to Marvin Williams.
My take: Miles Bridges is a low-risk player. Bridges can play the small forward or power forward position and has the athleticism to be a dynamic player. He has an underrated shot and decent mechanics beyond the 3-point line. However, Bridges can get tunnel vision when attacking the basket instead of deferring the ball to open teammates. His effort is questionable at times, but if Charlotte wants a ‘safe’ player, Bridges is about as good as it gets this year.
An explosive, shifty guard who showed flashes of go-to scoring skills once his role was increased midseason.
My take: We went from one of the safest players to one of the biggest risks in this draft. Lonnie Walker is not a ‘sure thing.’ Walker’s jump shot is amazing, however, his efficiency could use some improvement. According to the Stepien, Walker only shot 32 percent from the NBA line. He is one of the best athletes in this draft, along with Zhaire Smith and Mohammed Bamba, but his off-ball defense is a major flaw. He is often caught flat-footed and seems paralyzed when the opponents shot is in the air. All in all, this would be a very risky selection.
My Prediction: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Guard, Kentucky
The Hornets need help in the frontcourt, but in a draft so top-heavy with forward and big talent, there won’t be much there for the Hornets at eleven. However, they will likely have a nice crop of guards and wings to pick from, including Zhaire Smith, De’Anthony Melton, Lonnie Walker, and maybe even Collin Sexton. But above all of those players, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander simply makes the most sense.
Charlotte is absolutely loaded with scorers in the backcourt, with Kemba Walker, Jeremy Lamb, and future MVP Malik Monk (come on, you know it’s true), the impact is there. The Hornets, however, need more defensive reliability and more shot creation. Gilgeous-Alexander brings both of these things.