The NBA Draft is right around the corner. Charlotte Hornets fans have spent the last few weeks debating over who their favorite team should take at pick 11. Well, they might have to strike up a new debate based on recent news.
According to ESPN insider and NBA Draft expert Chad Ford (subscription required), the Hornets have had discussions about trading the 11th overall pick. They have spoken to two teams in particular about a deal - the New York Knicks and Oklahoma City Thunder.
Based on these rumors, it seems as though the Hornets are trying to trade back in the draft. Both the Knicks and Thunder have shown interest in trading up, according to Ford. New York is using picks 19 and 21 as bait, while Oklahoma City is using picks 16 and 18.
Either of these potential moves would allow the Hornets to bring in two rookies instead of one. With a draft as deep as this one, that might be their best bet. Based on the prospects they supposedly have their eyes on, plenty of players they like will be available in the middle of the first round.
Ford reported a few days ago (subscription required) that the Hornets have five different players in the mix that they are focusing on - Moses Moody, Kai Jones, Ziaire Williams, Cameron Thomas, and Day’Ron Sharpe. Outside of Moody, all of these players are projected to be drafted just outside of the lottery. Trading back would ideally allow the Hornets to select two of them.
Moody is almost a lock to be selected in the lottery. He has great upside and is already a solid defender. If the Hornets wanted him more than anyone, staying at 11 would be their best bet.
Jones in particular is a player to watch out for. Ford reported that many believe Michael Jordan and Mitch Kupchak love him. He included the fact that they may even be willing to reach for him at pick 11. Jones is projected to be picked at the end or right outside of the lottery in most mock drafts. He is a super athletic big man that could potentially stretch the floor. Bringing him in as a backup in year one with high hopes for the future could be a great plan in Charlotte.
Williams is another raw, very athletic prospect. He has the potential to turn into a solid scorer and already possesses a great NBA frame. The risk with Williams is that his draft stock has a super wide range. Some mock drafts have him going in the top ten, while others have him falling to the early 20s. There’s a possibility he could be there right after the lottery, but he could also be long gone.
Thomas is a name a lot of win-now teams have their eye on. He is one of the best pure scorers in this draft class. Other than that, however, he still has to develop in most other areas. If the Hornets want someone who can replace Monk’s scoring off the bench, he could be a decent pickup.
Sharpe has been gaining a lot of attention lately, according to Ford. The Hornets and Spurs in particular have shown a lot of interest in the big man out of North Carolina. The biggest storyline with him is that he has lost a ton of weight and is now showing the ability to shoot the ball well. If this is true it would be a huge development for his game. He’s now projected to be a mid-to-late first-round pick. If the Hornets do end up trading back, he will likely be one of their selections.
Both of these packages could end up being ideal for the Hornets. If they want to capitalize on the insane amount of talent in this draft class, having two first-round picks is certainly a way to do that.
James Plowright of At The Hive suggested selections for if the Hornets do end up trading back. He also presented the idea that a trade offer might be on the table and is only contingent on whether or not the Thunder use their picks in a different trade.
The NBA Draft could get interesting for the Hornets. Draft night trades are always fun, and it looks like Charlotte is going to be one of the teams wheeling and dealing this year.