In 2017, the Hornets surprisingly landed Malik Monk. Monk was almost universally projected to go in the top ten, especially before the Knicks became a near sure bet to select Frank Ntilikina. Monk didn’t live up to his billing over his first three seasons. He was supposed to be one of the best shooters and scorers in his class, but he struggled mightily with his outside shot and his overall efficiency as a result. We saw more of what was expected of him in his fourth season, but he looks more like a microwave bench scorer than a budding star.
The Hornets found themselves with the 11th pick again in 2018. They originally took Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, but they quickly traded him to the Clippers to move down one spot while picking up a couple extra second rounders. With the 12th pick, they took Miles Bridges. Bridges, like Monk, immediately brought awe inspiring athleticism to the table, but he struggled to find his niche early on. It looks like he put it all together in his third season, even adding a scoring dimension to his game down the stretch that even the most ardent Bridges supporters probably didn’t see coming.
For what it’s worth, the Hornets have also scooped up PJ Washington (2019) and Gerald Henderson (2009) at the 12th pick in the somewhat recent past.
So what does all this mean? Recent Hornets history suggests that they’ll find a contributor with the 11th pick. There’s a good chance those contributions will come with plenty of lumps and inconsistencies early on, but they should at least be enough to warrant a spot in the rotation relatively quickly.
There’s room for early contributions from the Hornets first round pick no matter what position they target. Malik Monk and Devonte’ Graham’s free agency leaves room at the guard and wing spot, unless the Hornets are comfortable rolling with the Martin twins behind an injury prone Gordon Hayward. The Hornets practically don’t have a center, so a big has a very easy path to minutes.
The Hornets probably won’t draft a starter next week, but recent history suggests whoever they draft will play significant minutes early on. There’s already so much youth to be excited about on this roster. Whoever Mitch Kupchak and company bring aboard will only add to that excitement.