Last night’s draft was full of unexpected trades and head scratching selections. Cameron Johnson went eleventh overall to the Suns, Bol Bol fell to the 44th pick, and I still don’t know which teams actually get half of last night’s selections after all the trades. But through all the mess, the Charlotte Hornets provided some clarity on their direction.
There’s a common thread shared by all three of the Hornets draft selections, they are versatile. They know how to play good basketball on both ends of the court.
P.J. Washington, Cody Martin, and Jalen McDaniels are all above average passers for their position. Martin played point forward for the Nevada Wolfpack as a senior and averaged 5.7 assists per 40 minutes. Despite playing the power forward positions in college, Washington and McDaniels averaged 2.5 and 2.7 assists per 40 minutes respectively.
All three are plus defenders. Cody Martin was Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year in 2018, an impressive feat for a wing. He’s a great help side defender and a menace on the ball. P.J. Washington doesn’t have any trophies to show for it, but he’s long, strong, and nimble enough to guard the perimeter and guard the post. He was arguably the best defender on a good defensive Kentucky team. McDaniels is more potential than production at this point, but has the length and athleticism to become disruptive on that end of the floor.
All of last night’s selections are good shooters, and all have made huge strides with their outside shot. None of the Hornets three selections last night were good 3-point shooters as freshmen. Washington and McDaniels both shot below 25% from range while Martin didn’t hit a single 3-pointer. All of them developed into respectable 3-point shooters (McDaniels at 32%, Martin at 36%), or a very good 3-point shooter (Washington at 42%.). McDaniels has shown the best touch from the free throw line of the bunch, so he can become a good shooter in time as well.
Whether or not you agree with the actual selections, it’s obvious the Hornets had a plan for last night’s draft, and they executed it. They want hard working players that can shoot, defend, and play in an offensive system. Popular high upside guys like Kevin Porter Jr., Bol Bol, and Sekou Doumbouya don’t check all those boxes, so it’s understandable why the Hornets went in different directions with their picks.
The Hornets didn’t swing for the fences with any of their picks, but it looks like they made decent contact with all three swings. It’s the same philosophy they followed last year when they selected two versatile two-way players in Miles Bridges and Devonte’ Graham. It’s a drastic change from the one way stars like Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Malik Monk that the previous regime leaned on. We’ll see if it brings the franchise better results.