Editor’s Note: As we get closer to the draft, it’s time to talk about possible draft picks for the Hornets. Over the next month, we will preview guys that could end up going to the Hornets at either picks number 9, 24, or 45, culminating in two mock drafts. Also during this time span, we will preview other options the Hornets have such as trading picks or available free-agents. Stick with us for original analysis and predictions all summer long!
Player Essentials: Noah Vonleh
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 lose 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.
The Bottom Line
Overall, Noah Vonleh should be a very intriguing prospect for the Hornets, especially considering Josh McRoberts’ decision to hit free-agency this July. Ultimately, it’s going to come down to how the Hornets want to address the power forward position. If they decide that their best options are in this year’s draft rather than trying to sign a player in free agency, then Vonleh could be a solution for the Hornets along with guys like Julius Randle and Aaron Gordon. Based off of recent projections, while it's unlikely that Vonleh will fall to the Hornets, if he does, Charlotte would certainly have an interesting decision to make with the number nine pick in this year's NBA Draft.
Lead Hornets Writer: Jonathon Hoppe