All the fun and pageantry of All Star Weekend has come and gone. It’s time for the stretch run of the season, where the Hornets will look to solidify a playoff spot while playing one of the league’s most grueling schedules. But first, we have several days off.
The Hornets don’t play until Friday, so we have a huge four day void that we need to fill with stuff, so we’re gonna start with everybody’s favorite form of roster fantasizing- the draft. We took a look at some prospects mocked to the Hornets a little over a month ago. Let’s see how things have shifted now that the college basketball season is deep into conference play.
(Note that for any mock drafts that don’t have teams slotted at each pick, we’re going to take the player mocked at the Hornets current draft slot- 16th.)
ESPN: Nickeil Alexander-Walker, SG, Virginia Tech
I’m going to get it right this time. Nickeil Alexander-Walker plays for Virgina Tech, not Virginia, as a couple astute Twitter users pointed out to me a couple minutes after I messed that up in the first mock draft roundup.
Alexander-Walker is a prototype 3&D wing that has some playmaking potential; VT will sometimes use him as a de facto point guard and run the offense through him. He’s averaging two steals per game and is shooting 42% from three on nearly five attempts per game. He doesn’t turn 21 until about a month before next season tips off. A player with his combination of youth and all-around game would be a steal for the Hornets after the lottery.
Tankathon: Bol Bol, C, Oregon
It’s a flippity-flop. Bol and Alexander-Walker were both in our first roundup, but their sources were flipped. Now Tankathon has the 7’2” freshman mocked to the Hornets.
Bol is a fascinating combination of size and skill. The son of former NBA player Manute Bol inherited his father’s ridiculously long, lanky frame, but he didn’t inherit his father’s trebuchet shot form. He has an effortless stroke from deep and really has a wing’s skill set stretched out into a 7’2” body. He also blocks a ton of shots.
There are concerns about his thin frame holding up against NBA bigs, and he’s out for this season with a foot injury. Foot injuries for bigs are always a major concern, but Bol is a fascinating prospect otherwise.
NBA Draft Net: De’Andre Hunter, F, Virginia
There were rumors that Hunter could have been a first round pick had he declared last summer, but he elected to return for his sophomore season. In 24 games this season, he’s averaging 15.0 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 2.2 assists per game while shooting 46.3% from three on a little over two attempts per game. He’s also a tremendous defender, which is the standard for NBA prospects coming out of Virginia. He could be the next Joe Harris and/or Malcolm Brogdon- a strong outside shooter that plays strong defense and does everything else at a passable level.
Basketball Insiders: Chuma Okeke, F, Auburn
The third sophomore to be mocked to the Hornets in this roundup, Okeke has a much broader projected range than the other prospects. In fact, ESPN has him mocked to the Hornets with the 37th pick.
Okeke is an interesting prospect- he averages just 11 points and 7 rebounds per game, but he has “tools.” He’s a willing outside shooter, but his efficiency numbers haven’t been all that great. Defense will be his calling card early in his career.
Sports Illustrated: Coby White, G, North Carolina
Maybe the Hornets will keep this Coby if they draft him in the teens. Sports Illustrated is nice enough to include a scouting report to save me some work:
In midst of an impressive season, White is tracking as a one-and-done caliber prospect, showing improvement as a passer and decision-maker to go on top of his ability as a microwave scorer. He has legit size, and though he’s not a pure point, he can play passably on or off the ball. White is still learning to pick his spots and score efficiently and is not overly explosive getting into the paint, which coupled with a lack of ideal spacing in UNC’s offense has made him into primarily a jump shooter. Defensively, he’s a work in progress. Context considered, White has a knack for scoring the ball, turns 19 next week, and has the type of talent worth developing.
And we know how much Michael Jordan loves him some Tar Heels.