The Charlotte Hornets were fortunate to jump up to No. 3 overall in the 2020 NBA draft lottery, now they just need to nail their pick. As I’ve previously written, the Hornets rebuild won’t be complete until they land a surefire All-Star. It’s rare in today’s NBA for truly competitive teams to have a collection of “good” players without any truly “great” ones. (Or multiple “great” ones, for that matter.) Charlotte has several good players, now they need to reel in a great one. Drafting third overall should help make this happen. For example, let’s look at the composition of the 2019-20 NBA All-Star team and where each of the 25 All-Stars were drafted:
No. 1 - LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Ben Simmons
No. 2 - Brandon Ingram
No. 3 - James Harden, Luka Doncic, Jayson Tatum, Joel Embiid
No. 4 - Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook
No. 5 - Trae Young
No. 6 - Damian Lillard
No. 9 - Kemba Walker
No. 11 - Domantas Sabonis
No. 13 - Devin Booker, Donovan Mitchell
No. 14 - Bam Adebayo
No. 15 - Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kawhi Leonard
After 15 - Kyle Lowry (24), Pascal Siakam (27), Rudy Gobert (27), Khris Middleton (29), Jimmy Butler (30), Nikola Jokic (41)
This is great news for the Hornets. While the quality and depth of every draft class is different, the composition of the 2020 All-Star team shows the best way to land an All-Star is to draft in the top four. That should be common sense - high draft picks yield better players - but there are no guarantees when it comes to the inexact science of player evaluation. Overall, 10 of this year’s 25 All-Stars were top four picks. The No. 3 pick produced more 2020 All-Stars than any other individual selection, even surpassing the three players drafted No. 1 overall. I don’t know about you, but I’m already daydreaming about the next Luke Doncic or James Harden (minus the foul hunting) coming to Charlotte.
Interestingly, trends get pretty random after the top four. For example, only three All-Stars were drafted between No. 5 and No. 10 while six All-Stars were drafted between No. 11 and No. 15 and four were drafted between No. 24 and No. 29. That’s right - more 2020 All-Stars were drafted between No. 24 and No. 29 than those selected between No. 5 and No. 10.
Now that the Hornets are holding a golden ticket with the third overall pick, they need to cash it in. As you already know, Charlotte doesn’t have the best track recent track record with Top 10 picks. While All-Star Kemba Walker (No. 9, 2011) was a franchise-changing selection, the same can’t be said for two other No. 9 picks - Noah Vonleh (2014) and Frank Kaminsky (2015). More distressingly, the Hornets have had two top four picks in recent years which netted Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (No. 2, 2012) and Cody Zeller (No. 4, 2013).
A rebuilding franchise like the current iteration of the Charlotte Hornets can’t afford to whiff again with a top four pick. This is their best chance in several years to draft an All-Star. We’ll see if Mitch Kupchak & Co. can make it happen this time.