The Charlotte Hornets signed center Thomas Welsh to a one year, non-guaranteed contract back in August. Unlike the other non-guaranteed contracts the Hornets have handed out in recent weeks, this one seems to come with an expectation that Welsh will be on the roster when the season tips off in October.
Welsh, like many of the Hornets roster-fringe acquisitions, has a very particular skill set—he can shoot. He added a 3-point shot before his final collegiate season after attempting only one 3-pointer in his first three seasons combined. In that senior season, Welsh connected on over 40% of his 112 3-point attempts. That outside shooting prowess was enough to get him selected by the Denver Nuggets at the back end of the 2018 NBA Draft.
Welsh played the 2018-19 season on a two-way deal and spent the majority of his time in the G League. There, the former UCLA Bruin averaged 10.3 points and 8.1 rebounds per game while shooting 52% from the field and 47% from three. He was waived by the Nuggets in late July and scooped up by the Hornets a little more than a week later.
Assuming Welsh makes the Hornets final roster, his role looks pretty clear. He’ll replace Frank Kaminsky, who left Charlotte for Phoenix in free agency.
The Hornets best stretch of basketball last season came in the season’s final weeks. Kaminsky was getting regular minutes then, and his outside shooting and skill opened up the floor for a Hornets team that had struggled all season to find offensive production outside of Kemba Walker.
The Hornets will hope that Welsh has a similar effect on a roster that is lacking its go-to scorers from last season. He doesn’t have the track record that Kaminsky did when he joined the Hornets, but Welsh should be a passable facsimile for the former Badger. His outside shooting is legit and he brings more to the table as a rebounder than Kaminsky ever did, which should offset Welsh’s relative lack of passing prowess to a degree.
The Hornets have clearly prioritized outside shooting when looking for players to fill the periphery of the roster. Welsh has that in a 7-footer’s body. There’s a role for players like that in the NBA.