The Charlotte Hornets acquired Wes Iwundu this past summer as part of the sign-and-trade that sent Devonte’ Graham to the New Orleans Pelicans. His inclusion in the deal was announced a little while after the story broke that Graham was on his way to New Orleans, so Iwundu was always perceived as trade filler. On top of that, the Hornets have 16 players on NBA deals, so someone has to go.
Iwundu comes to the Hornets after splitting last season between the Pelicans and the Dallas Mavericks. He was somewhat of a bit player at both stops, appearing in 41 games, starting four, and averaging about 13 minutes per game. He struggled in those minutes, shooting just 33.0% from the field and 12.2% from three. Prior to that, he spend three seasons with Orlando, where he was a more capable offensive threat.
Iwundu kind of fills a Cody Martin-type role with slightly better 3-point potential and less ball handling. He’s an athlete, defender, and energy player that can’t be counted on to do too much on the offensive end. If he makes the team, he’ll play a role similar to the one he played last season. He’ll fill in if other wings go down and for the occasional defensive possession, but otherwise he’ll be the recipient of a lot of DNP-CDs.
He’s competing for a roster spot with Nick Richards, Vernon Carey, and maybe Cody Martin. Martin has been getting early burn in the preseason, while Richards has been used as the team’s reserve center. Carey, meanwhile has been mostly glued to the bench.
For Iwundu to make the team, he needs to prove that he’s worked on his outside shot over the summer. The Hornets already have one non-shooting wing that they like a lot in Cody Martin. Iwundu needs to at least be respectable from range. He can also win the staff over with some defensive stopping ability, which you can never have enough of on the wings with how much start power is at the position league wide. He might be on the outside of the roster looking in right now, but there’s certainly room for him to play his way into a spot.