With the ninth overall selection in the 2014 NBA Draft, the Charlotte Hornets selected power forward Noah Vonleh out of Indiana. While it was certainly surprising that Vonleh fell into the Hornet’s laps, in brief, I’m glad that he did. He’s a look at the newest Charlotte Hornet:
Strengths: Despite not being the most talented or polished player, Noah Vonleh out of Indiana is one of the more intriguing prospects for teams near the top of the first round in this year’s draft. Much of the hype around Vonleh comes from his potential as an NBA player due to his physical stature. At nearly 250 pounds, Vonleh already has the necessary strength to be productive at the power forward position at just 18 years of age. In addition, Vonleh has a tremendous 7’4” wingspan that could help him become one of the league's best shot blockers for years to come.
In addition, While Vonleh isn’t the most explosive player, his rebounding ability is quite impressive, averaging 9.0 boards a contest last season at Indiana. On tape, while the forward was able to depend on his size for many of his rebounds, what stood out to me about Vonleh was his willingness to chase down an offensive board or dive for a loose ball. With a player like Vonleh who will have to work to be a great player in the NBA, from his ability to make the hustle play, it's apparent that he has the motor GM's like to see out of young players.
Finally, what surprised me most about the Indiana big man was his ability to make threes with some consistency, shooting 48.5% from beyond the arc last season. While last season's 16-33 in three-point attempts is certainly a small sample size, Vonleh could become an incredible multi-dimensional player at the NBA player if he continues to work on his shooting mechanics from long range.
Weaknesses: Despite the offensive promise that Vonleh showed during his freshman year at Indiana, he still isn’t very polished and occasionally seems lost on the offensive end of the court, meaning that consistency will certainly be an issue for the Indiana product at the next level. However, Vonleh still managed to score an average of over 11 points a game and shot 52% from the floor during his freshman year in one of college basketball’s toughest conferences, proving his offensive potential.
First off, the addition of Noah Vonleh to the Hornets’ team pretty much guarantees the official end of Josh McRoberts’ tenure in Charlotte. As far as Vonleh goes, he will likely become the Hornets’ starting power forward next season. To me, while I like Vonleh as a basketball player, he isn’t very polished as an offensively and might struggle on that end of the court early in his rookie season. At the same time, Charlotte doesn't have a necessity for another scoring big man due to the presence of all Jefferson. Ultimately, all the Hornets really need is a guy that can play solid defense and score when called upon, which is something that Vonleh will certainly be able to do at the NBA level.
Overall, I really like the Hornets’ selection of Noah Vonleh with the ninth overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft. While it is slightly concerning that Vonleh isn’t a very polished player and will likely be thrown into the fire immediately as a rookie, he was undoubtedly the best player available for Charlotte at the nine spot. And while by no means will Vonleh be a superstar in his rookie season, the Hornets did a great job addressing a team need with the best play available at the nine spot. Grade: A.
Lead Hornets Writer: Jonathon Hoppe