The first draft in the new era as the Charlotte Hornets was certainly one to remember. While this draft class might not be as highly touted as it once was, for the first time in a while, the majority of Hornets’ fans approved of Charlotte’s decisions last night. Fans should be happy not only with the selections but also how things are shaping up for free agency.
As the ninth pick approached, the front runner for the Hornet’s pick in Doug McDermott was still on the board, but an interesting player in Noah Vonleh had fallen out of the top eight right into Charlotte’s laps. Personally, I believed that Rich Cho was still going to pull the trigger on McDermott despite the availability of the presumed top 5 pick.
When Commissioner Silver called Vonleh’s name, even though the Indiana big man was certainly the best player available at the time, it was somewhat surprising to me considering the Hornets’ rumored focus on getting shooting upgrade in this year’s draft. As it turns out, after taking a deeper look into Vonleh’s abilities, Rich Cho and company made a great choice with this selection in my opinion. Interestingly enough, as mentioned at the Hornets’ press conference this afternoon, the decision of drafting Vonleh will not Charlotte’s pursuit of Josh McRoberts. Even if McRoberts gets too pricey and goes elsewhere, you still have a guy who can compliment Al Jefferson in Noah Vonleh.
Wow. What a rollercoaster ride it was for Hornets’ fans in the later parts of the first round. As time went on, two things seemed clear: Hairston would be available at 24 and the Heat were very interested in UCONN point guard Shabazz Napier. With Miami actively trying to trade up, one thought Charlotte could be involved in the deal. Before we knew a trade was going down, Adam Silver was at the podium announcing what was then the Hornets’ second first-round pick. When Shabazz Napier’s name was called, the Hairston lovers nearly had a stroke, only to find out later there was still hope, as Charlotte sent the rights to Shabazz Napier to Miami for the 26th and 55th picks later in the draft. As it turns out, the beloved Hairston was selected by the Hornets only two picks later.
It’s really exciting to me that the Hornets were able to get Hairston in the draft. I’m somebody who thought he would go a little earlier, but wasn’t necessarily surprised when he was there late first round. What makes this pick so intriguing is Hairston’s upside. A lot of experts claimed he would be a lottery pick if it weren’t for his off court issues. Hopefully, those issues are taken care of and Hairston can turn out a steal for the Hornets.
What It All Means
Here’s a look at the Hornets current roster after draft night:
PG: Kemba Walker
SG: Gerald Henderson, Gary Neal, and P.J. Hairston
SF: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Jeffrey Taylor
PF: Noah Vonleh and Cody Zeller
C: Al Jefferson and Bismack Biyombo
Assuming that Charlotte decides to cut the newly acquired Alonzo Gee, the Hornets currently have 10 players under contract. Most NBA teams carry 13-14 players, so there are still some holes to fill.
As far as point guard is concerned, Rich Cho made it clear that the Hornets’ intention was always to sign a backup point guard through free agency. Look for former Bobcat Ramon Sessions to be on Rich Cho’s radar in free agency. The Hornets typically like to carry a third point guard, so someone like Jannero Pargo could come back as long as the price is right.
The shooting guard position appears to be very deep at the moment, but it’s almost certainly not a finished product. If the Hornets are going to add a piece like Lance Stephenson, they’re going to need to shop Henderson. Not only to clear up minutes, but also for cap relief. Henderson is due six million next season.
Another potential option would be to upgrade at small forward. The Hornets are going to have to get another three at some point, so it will be interesting to see if it’s a big name or a capable backup like Chris Douglas-Roberts.
Power forward seems to be somewhat full, but the team has made it clear they still intend to resign Josh McRoberts. If that were to happen, look for Vonleh and Cody Zeller to get some minutes together down low coming off of the bench.
This one is easy. The Hornets have to get better a better backup center next year. Not a guy who will have to play a ton, but someone who could give quality minutes. The Hornets could see Vonleh as this guy. While he may be a little undersized, he’s a tough physical big man who could hold his own at center for a small portion of the game.
Lead Hornets Writer: Jonathon Hoppe