I’m going to preface this roundup by reiterating that the 2019-20 Charlotte Hornets make no sense. Pretty much everything except their actual win/loss record suggests that this is one of the five worst teams in the league. Their win/loss record, which is the one thing that actually matters for draft order, says this team belongs in the back end of the lottery.
That makes for a wide range of mock draft outcomes. The sites that use current standings have an entirely different tier of prospects going to the Hornets compared to the sites that use future projections. We’re set up for diversity in this mock draft roundup. Let’s see how it goes.
ESPN: James Wiseman, Center, Memphis (Pick 3)
ESPN set their draft order based on their Basketball Power Index. The Hornets are currently 28th in that ranking and are apparently trending up since the time of this mock draft.
If the Hornets should land Wiseman, he’d immediately shore up the team’s front line that’s being held together by scotch tape and Bismack Biyombo. Wiseman has all the tools a modern big man needs to dominate the league, and he put up monster stats in his three games for the Tigers. Unfortunately, the NCAA decided to suspend him and force him to donate $11,500 to charity (I’d love to talk more about the NCAA “fining” their unpaid student athlete, but this not the time nor the place for that), and Wiseman wisely elected to leave that joke of an organization instead of being subjected to their punishments.
All that means there’s limited scouting of Wiseman against high level competition. He’s a risk, but an understandable one.
Tankathon: Obi Toppin, Forward, Dayton (Pick 12)
If nothing else, Toppin would immediately step in as one of the strongest names in the NBA. He’s kind of a cross between Devonte’ Graham and PJ Washington as a prospect. Like Graham, he was a late bloomer that needed a year of prep school before he made his way onto the national radar (this also makes him extremely old for a sophomore). He has a game that’s stylistically similar to Washington’s. It’d be odd for the Hornets to draft sophomore combo forwards three years in a row, but you never know.
NBA Draft Net: N’Faly Dante, Center, Oregon (Pick 11)
They must know something others don’t. because I can’t find Dante on any other mock drafts. He’s come off the bench in two games for the ducks and has put up fairly strong per-minute stats in those appearances. I’ll guess we’ll put him in the wait and see category.
NBC Sports: Precious Achiuwa, Forward, Memphis (Pick 9)
Oh look, another combo forward. Achiuwa is a high ceiling defender with a super raw offensive game. You know the football player archetype in pickup basketball? That’s Achiuwa.
CBS Sports: Vernon Carey Jr, Center, Duke (Pick 10)
I’ll let this excerpt from the mock draft do the talking for me since I’m tired of writing about big guys.
With Bismack Biyombo preparing to hit free agency, the Hornets can get a center-of-the-future to pair alongside 2019 draft steal P.J. Washington. Vernon Carey Jr. has outperformed expectations at Duke and already exceeded draft expectations, with his old-school game looking like it will work in a new-school NBA. He plays quick with nimble feet and has good enough feel in the post to hang in the league for a decade.
Sports Illustrated: Deni Avdija, Wing, Maccabi Tel Aviv (Israel) (Pick 9)
Jeremy Woo of SI hasn’t mocked players from his big boards to specific teams yet, so I just averaged the Hornets draft spots from the previous mock drafts and gave the Hornets the player at that spot.
That player is a Avdija, who is playing professionally in Israel. He’s a big, ball-handling wing that fits the profile of what’s become all the rage in the current NBA. His stats aren’t super impressive, but that’s not uncommon for 18-year-olds playing against grown men in high level, European competition. There are concerns about his outside shot, which hasn’t fallen as consistently as you’d expect given the cleanliness of his release. But the success of Luka Doncic may entice teams to chase after players of his ilk.