The Charlotte Hornets badly need young talent at the center spot. Willy Hernangomez and Bismack Biyombo are both free agents, and Cody Zeller is entering the final year of his contract. None of them are viable long term solutions to the center spot.
There’s a chance the Hornets look to address that void in the first round, but that’s probably not the best use of that resource. The Hornets own the second pick in the second round, which is a prime place to look for talent at the center spot. One potential target is Minnesota center Daniel Oturu.
Weight: 240 pounds
Strengths: Rebounding, shooting potential, development arc
The two areas where Oturu stands out already are as a rebounder and a shot maker. He has a good motor and soft hands, which helped him corral 13.3 rebounds per 40 minutes as a sophomore. He rebounds out of his area well and has a good fundamental base of boxing out playing angles off the rim.
Oturu has impressive outside shooting potential for a center. He hit 36.5% of his 3-point attempts as a sophomore on 2.0 attempts per 40 minutes. His form looks good, though it is slow. NBA coaches will probably want him to speed up his release so his 3-point shot can be a real weapon, but that could come in time. He only started shooting 3-pointers in this most recent season.
Oturu showed strong growth from his freshman to his sophomore season at Minnesota. He increased his scoring rate by 5.5 points per 40 minutes while taking notable jumps in efficiency from the floor and the free throw line. He only attempted two 3-pointers as a freshman, but bumped that up to 52 as a sophomore. He also made significant statistical improvements in rebounds, assists, and blocks while decreasing the amount of fouls that he committed. All of this implies that there’s still a significant room for growth in Oturu’s game.
Question marks: Defense, versatility
Daniel is not a good defender. He’s okay playing the traditional center role as a rim protector, but it doesn’t stand out as a major strength, and it’s about the end of where he currently makes an impact on that end of the floor. His technique on the perimeter is horrible, and he’s too slow footed to contain any decent ball handler. He offers no resistance on switches and struggles to keep the ball contained in the pick and roll.
Not only is he limited in what he can do defensively, there are questions about how Oturu fits on offense. You’d like your roll men in the pick and roll to be good decision makers so they can make plays out of the short roll, but that hasn’t been a part of Oturu’s game thus far, and his 1.3:3.4 assist-to-turnover ratio is not very inspiring. He can contribute by taking catch-and-shoot jumpers and picking up garbage buckets in the half court, but his path to contributing more than that is murky.
The Hornets are going to have to add a center at some point this offseason, and it’s probably time they try out some young talent at that spot. There are a bevy of center prospects projected to go around that first round/second round border, and Oturu is one of them. He has the potential to be a scoring threat at a position where the Hornets have no such thing since Al Jefferson, but it remains to be seen if he can defend well enough to stay on the floor.