NBA Draft Team Preview: Charlotte Hornets

THE NBA Draft is just around the corner, in what shapes as one of the most anticipated selection nights in recent memory, thanks to a talented crop of up and comers set to have their dreams realised.

With that in mind, Rookie Me Central will be previewing each side ahead of draft night on June 22, unpacking all 30 teams’ needs and potential selections as they look towards the future.

One of the best-placed teams on the draft board are the Charlotte Hornets, who will be taking one of the best players on the board with the second overall selection. With the first pick in the draft essentially locked away, what Charlotte chooses to do with the following selection is one of the biggest questions coming into the draft.

Charlotte Hornets

Draft selections

2, 27, 34, 39, 41

Contracted players

Gordon Hayward, Terry Rozier, LaMelo Ball, Cody Martin, PJ Washington (qualifying offer), James Bouknight, Mark Williams, Kai Jones, Nick Richards, JT Thor, Bryce McGowens, Theo Maledon (qualifying offer), Xavier Sneed, Kobi Simmons

The Hornets have not been able to make the most of Ball’s services over the past few years, and are still looking to break their playoff drought. However, the second overall selection in the 2023 draft will add even more young talent alongside one of the league’s brightest point guards.

The longstanding view has been that behind Victor Wembanyama (who is certain to go to the Spurs at pick one), the next best player in this class is Scoot Henderson, but there is a conversation to be had around whether he is the best fit for Charlotte.

This is due to the fact that Henderson is a ball-dominant player, as is Ball, so the question arises in how well the two would work in a backcourt together. However, pairing the duo could give their offence a massive boost if it works well.

The Hornets have the worst-ranked offence in the NBA, so the injection of a high-paced playmaker such as Henderson would certainly help in this domain. Between he and Ball, Charlotte could create plenty of easy scoring opportunities with the pair’s ability to create.

On the other hand, the Hornets could look towards a smoother fit in Brandon Miller, who enjoyed an outstanding college basketball season and is a readymade NBA player as well. Miller has the ability to play the two through four in terms of positioning, and offers an immediate offensive option to whatever team he joins.

Next to Ball, Miller’s shooting would come to the forefront, given his ability to knock down jumpers from just about anywhere. He also has the potential to become a secondary playmaker in the future, which could tempt the Hornets as well.

It is one of the biggest decisions in the draft, and could have a big ripple effect further down the order.

The Hornets also hold a number of picks later in the draft, including towards the end of the first round. With the 27th pick, they could find a player who has slid further down the order, and given the depth of the draft, may snag an immediate impact player, saving their final two selections for long-term prospects that require a bit more patience.

With their late-first round selection, the Hornets could find themselves with a Maxwell Lewis or Colby Jones to fill their wing void. While Jones would be a more immediate option, it all depends on who is left when it is Charlotte’s turn to pick.

The Hornets have one of the most important decisions to make in the draft, with their choice at pick number two set to have a major role in how the remainder of the selections pan out, while also framing the future for their own organisation.

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