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The Charlotte Hornets 2022 NBA Draft guide: vol. 1

Draft season is upon us.

Arkansas v Duke Photo by Lance King/Getty Images

It’s the moooost wonderful tiiime ooof the yeaaaaaaar

So, what’s first order of business every offseason? The NBA Draft. Technically, teams may complete trades as soon as they’re eliminated from the playoffs, but draft night (or the days leading up to it) often marks the first action-packed day of the summer. As rumors of an unlikely-but-possible Mitch Kupchak retirement swirl and the organization looks to fill the head coaching vacancy, the Hornets probably won’t make moves much before the draft while the front office determines course of action and gets their offseason plan in order.

The 2022 NBA Draft will be held on June 23 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, marking a return to the draft’s usual schedule after the pandemic altered it in 2020 and 2021. The Hornets’ own pick holds the 13th-best lottery odds and they received the 15th pick via New Orleans after the Pelicans made the playoffs. The Hornets also hold the 45th overall pick in the second round.

The draft lottery is on May 17, and from that point the Hornets’ pick can fall to 14, stay at 13 or jump into the top-four. Charlotte has a 4.8 percent chance to receive a top-four pick and a 1 percent chance to pick first overall. The odds are quite slim, but it’s not impossible.

The Charlotte Hornets 2022 NBA Draft guide will have three installments before the big night, which is just under two months from today. First, my top-10 big board will be featured and as we go on it’ll expand to 30, and eventually a top-60. My notes from watching game film on all of these players will be sprinkled in throughout and there will be some thoughts on the current state of the draft class after each big board drops.

Stay tuned for At The Hive’s scouting reports, too. Let’s get started with the 2022 top-10 big board!

Chase’s 2022 NBA Draft Big Board top-10

Name Position Ht./Wt. School (country) Notes
Name Position Ht./Wt. School (country) Notes
1. Chet Holmgren Big 7-0/195lbs Gonzaga unique size/skillset combo, rim-protecting hybrid big at NBA level? Stretch-5 w/added strength? improving decision-maker, killer in transition defense and offense, reads the floor well, has very few weaknesses in his game as a modern big, plays his ass off 100% of the time, too
2. Jabari Smith Forward 6-10/220lbs Auburn tough shot-making forward with size, wing skillset, good passer out of high post, defensive upside, dynamite shooter from mid and long range, can finish off drives, dump offs and post ups too, has potential to defend multiple positions (3-5?) in NBA
3. Paolo Banchero Forward 6-10/250lbs Duke inside-out skillset, ideal frame/gifted strength but average explosiveness and overall speed, mobility could limit him on perimeter defensively in NBA but very good feel in space makes up for lack of pop, really good shooter/passer/ball-handler for his size, should be close to a 20ppg player at some point in his career
4. Shaedon Sharpe Guard/wing 6-6/200lbs Kentucky (Canada) everything NBA teams are looking for as 3lvl scorer, elite athlete/frame, easy top 5 prospect given age/position/scoring punch, insane tools to be at least decent offensively right away and become a potential all-star some day, obv no tape of him since high school
5. AJ Griffin Wing 6-6/222lbs Duke NBA frame at 18, one of the draft's shooters, really settled in as season goes on, better passer/handles than anticipated, elite defense/off-ball O movement potential, seems a bit stiff athletically but could still be injury effects, even if athleticism doesnt fully come back shooting/handle/defense package is worth a top 5 pick imo
6. Jaden Ivey Combo 6-4/200lbs Purdue athletic, aggressive, potential 3-level scorer with solid size for guard, improving passer w more lead guard responsibility, absolute monster in transition, 6-4 Ja Morant mentality w/ more strength at this age but not quite as explosive
7. Jalen Duren Big 6-10/230lbs Memphis teenager in grown man's frame, high energy combined with raw talent, lots of room for growth technically, underrated passer, excellent hands for lobs and quick passes down low, robert williams comps make a lot of sense imo, pretty good touch indicates possible spacing potential
8. Bennedict Mathurin Wing 6-7/195lbs Arizona (Canada) shooter/scorer, versatile perimeter defender, stock rose a lot as sophomore, doesn't pop as potential #1 option to me but a comfortable top-10 pick given size/position/two-way tools while already offering value as an OTD/spot up scorer
9. Jonathan Davis Guard 6-5/196lbs Wisconsin solid two-way guard with burst, clutch bucket-getter from 3 levels, solid shooter, a bit thin but will only need to defend 1-2 in NBA, extremely tough, trailed off a bit as year wound down but was also injured, another soph with a huge jump in stock
10. Keegan Murray Forward 6-8/215lbs Iowa wing/forward 3-4 type that prob only defends other 3/4s but is pretty good at it, good shooter/ball-mover within offense, smooth inside-out game that should translate immediately, just a really really polished scorer that isn't a liability as a playmaker or defender
Chase’s 2022 NBA Big Board top-10

Granted, the Hornets would be very lucky to make another lottery leap, vault into the top-four and have the opportunity to select a Paolo Banchero, Chet Holmgren, or Jabari Smith, but they do hold two mid-firsts that could be packaged in a trade-up for someone like Jalen Duren or Bennedict Mathurin. The general consensus on the 2022 draft class is that it has a reasonably strong top-end that trails off quickly around twelve (conveniently, just before the Hornets are slated to pick), so that could render a trade-up as unlikely, but all it takes is one team to bite. It may seem like a far cry, but I’m keeping closer tabs on top-10 prospects than one usually would for a team with the 13th pick.

The Chet vs. Paolo vs. Jabari debate for the No. 1 overall spot is really fascinating to me. How a person views NBA basketball from a philosophical and stylistic perspective has more impact on who that person views as the best player in the class than it normally does, I think. With Cade Cunningham, Anthony Davis, Zion Williamson, etc., the top pick was a lock. This year, it could be any of those three and maybe even Jaden Ivey if the right team lands in first.

Holmgren is the leader of the pack for me in part because of his uniqueness as a seven-footer than runs the floor, shoots threes in transition, handles the ball and makes adept passes, but also because he has elite-level character and plays harder than any prospect I’ve watched in-depth in this class. “Too skinny” is not a knock on an NBA prospect in 2022 — franchises put millions of dollars into strength and conditioning programs and most players with such svelte frames are teenagers. Of course a 19-year-old is skinny! It’d be a marvel if they weren’t (example: Duren). Holmgren manages to reap the benefits of having a slight frame while maintaining an imposing, physical presence under the rim.

Mock draft round-up number one soon come. The Athletic, CBS Sports, ESPN, The Ringer and Sports Illustrated have all somewhat-recently published mock drafts. You’ll never guess what position the prospect that’s commonly mocked to the Hornets plays.