In case you missed it, the Charlotte Hornets caught some lottery luck for the first time since they came back to Charlotte, moving from the eighth pick up to the third pick. So what does this mean?
Since you asked, I’ll tell you.
It’s obvious that the odds of finding a good player at three are higher than they are at eight. The talent level in NBA drafts drops pretty precipitously after the first few picks, so the higher the draft pick, the better.
In fact, the average win shares per 48 minutes of players drafted with the third overall pick since 2000 is 0.110. For eighth picks in the same time span, it’s 0.068. It’s hard to explain those numbers, but that difference is significant. For reference, those numbers represent the difference between Donovan Mitchell/Jamal Murray and Terry Rozier/Garrett Temple this season (among other players, but this is my article, so I’m picking the examples).
That stark contrast isn’t surprising when you look at the names drafted at those respective draft slots in recent years. The most notable eighth picks in the NBA right now are probably Terrence Ross and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. At the third pick, you have guys like James Harden, Bradley Beal, Joel Embiid, Jayson Tatum, Luka Doncic, etc. One of those lists is much more appealing than the other.
As for the Hornets specific plans—General Manager Mitch Kupchak has said he’s not factoring positional need into their upcoming draft board. He says the team isn’t in a position to be passing up raw talent in favor of selecting certain positions, and he’s right. The Hornets are still in the process of stockpiling assets. It’s okay if they overlap a little bit. Redundancies can be handled as the team rounds out its core and looks to push its way into more serious playoff contention.
The Charlotte Hornets have a lot good options with the No. 3 pick in the NBA draft. Here's what GM Mitch Kupchak had to say about his process after the team moved up from 8th to 3rd in the lottery. pic.twitter.com/iZFY4FCkiN— Matt L. Stephens (@MattStephens) August 21, 2020
The draft is currently scehduled for October 16th, but there’s a chance it gets pushed back once again as the NBA and NBPA try to get the 2020-21 season financials in order amid the coronavirus pandemic. Regardless of what happens, the Hornets have a lot of time to evaluate prospects and get their draft board in order.