We’ve all looked at plenty of mock drafts, especially as of late. Most of them have the Hornets making a selection from this group of prospects; Deni Avdija, James Wiseman, Onyeka Okongwu, Tyrese Haliburton, Obi Toppin, Cole Anthony, R.J. Hampton or Killian Hayes. There could be some mock drafts out there that have different prospects, but for the most part, the mainstream draft sites have the Hornets picking one of the guys listed above. I pegged Wiseman to the Hornets in volume one of the At the Hive mock draft, in case you want to revisit that.
ESPN’s Jonathan Givony and Mike Schmitz posted a mock draft of all 60 picks (on ESPN+) just after midnight on Apr. 9, with the title suggesting that picks are made with fit in consideration and intel they’ve gathered from NBA front offices. Givony and Schmitz are both former DraftExpress.com gurus, and DraftExpress was/is one of the best NBA draft sites out there. Their opinions hold weight — which makes this mock draft all the more troubling.
Precious Achiuwa would be an O.K. fit with the Hornets. His small-ball center strength and aggressiveness would help their paint defense and rebounding. But I’ve yet to see a mock draft where Achiuwa goes higher than the 20th pick. Combine Givony and Schmitz’s expertise with their close relations with NBA scouts and this is enough to incite a panic. There has to be a reason Achiuwa is heading to Charlotte with the eighth pick rather than the 32nd, where he’s been available in plenty of mocks. They’ve got to know something. It’s just too obscure and random to think the two of them are magically that high on Achiuwa and think the Hornets are some dream scenario for him without them trading up from pick 32 to get him/him falling to pick 32. There has been nothing to indicate that the Hornets think that way to the outside viewer, but then again, Givony and Schmitz are not outside viewers. They talk to scouts and front office members. Someone in Charlotte must like Achiuwa, even in the lottery, and I am worried about it.
P.S. notice who the two draft experts said is the “best fit” for the Hornets. Yeah, you read it right. It’s the guy I’ve been harping on for months. Onyeka Okongwu is gonna be one of the best players in this class and fits like a glove in Charlotte. I’m glad Givony and Schmitz finally caught up to me.
I also had Dotson heading to the Hornets at pick 32 in the ATH mock draft because his ability to get to the rim and finish and defend the opponent’s lead ball-handler are advanced for a 6’ 1” guard. Dotson and Malik Monk would be a pair of wrecking balls in the second-unit backcourt next season, and he could also be thrown on the floor with Devonte’ Graham as a sub for Terry Rozier, because he can defend the two-guard while playing lead guard on offense to free up Devonte’. The Hornets have a need at backup point guard, and if they don’t lean that way in the lottery, Dotson is a good value pick.
John Petty would likely spend a lot of time with the Greensboro Swarm next season, but his shooting is good enough to earn him an NBA roster spot. He’s played three years at Alabama, hitting 38.6% of his 3-point shots (44% last season on 6.7 3PA per game) and shooting 42.2% FG (46.2% FG last season). He’s not overly athletic and is more of self-creator than playmaker, but he can shoot, defend, and has ample size to play on the wing in the NBA.
As always, meet me in the comment section and we can devise our plan to march on ESPN’s headquarters and demand they change their mock selection from Achiuwa to literally any projected lottery pick.