Leading up to the 2014 NBA Draft – in the stretch run now, we are going to preview each team in the lottery for their needs. Taking a look at each team’s individual strengths, weaknesses, roster, and what prospects would fit in with their current and future plans.
“It has been a long time, long time, shouldn’t have left you, left you…” The people of Charlotte can rejoice and sing collectively as the Charlotte Hornets are back, hopefully with their old uniforms and “Grandmama” included, building more positive momentum for the future on the heels of making the playoffs for the first time in three years and the second time in franchise history. Welcome Back.
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Here is the NBA Draft Fast Five.
ONE: 2014-2015 Potential Roster Review
New Head Coach Steve Clifford set the tone with this team as a defensive-oriented group with enough offense to win games. It is a March Madness style that was effective enough to win 43 games and get to the playoffs. The frontcourt is fairly deep next year with Al Jefferson, Cody Zeller, Bismack Biyombo, Brandon Haywood, and Josh McRoberts. The team can go deep there and run a fluid rotation, but the perimeter is less dynamic and deep outside of Kemba Walker, Gerald Henderson, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, and Gary Neal. The team that made the playoffs will be back again outside of a few pieces, which can be replicated with two first-round picks and free-agency this summer.
TWO: Biggest Strengths
As mentioned above the depth of the frontcourt is a major strength which plays into this being a very stout defensive team. Individually, this is not a collection of great defensive talent, but with terrific coaching and a team scheme they were one of the league’s best. The Hornets rebound well, take care of the ball while limiting turnovers, and needle the pace down to a crawl to control the game. Coaching, the Kemba-Big Al duo, and defense are the primary strengths of this Hornets team.
THREE: Biggest Weaknesses
The duo of Kemba Walker and Al Jefferson provided just enough scoring to get into the playoffs, but they need more diverse scoring options. Play-making, shooting, and a third scoring option will allow the Hornets to not only get to the playoffs, but they will be able to compete on that level. Additional shooters, ball-handlers, or overall scorers are the biggest weaknesses going forward.
FOUR: Odds In The 2014 NBA Draft Lottery
There is no such thing as “winners and losers” in a lottery, only odds and ping-pong balls. If there was a winner, however, it was the Charlotte Hornets who officially took over the Detroit Pistons pick after it fell out of the top 8. The Pistons had a 72.4 percent chance of staying at No. 8, a 10 percent chance of moving into the Top 3, and a 17.6 percent chance of giving their pick to the Hornets, which is what eventually happened. It is Detroit, gentlemen, the Odds Gods will not save you…
FIVE: Recent History of the No. 9 Pick
If you want a reason to be excited then look no further than the last seven NBA draft’s, particularily at the No. 9 pick each year. Sure, before that there was a run of Ike Diogu, Patrick O’Bryant and others, but since 2007 it has been a string of “hits.” Very talented prospects like Joakim Noah, DeMarr DeRozan, Gordon Hayward, Andre Drummond, Trey Burke, and current Hornet star Kemba Walker were all picked here. Maybe the Cavaliers should have stayed put here versus moving up to No. 1 overall again?
Five Prospects That Make Sense For The Charlotte Hornets At No. 9 Overall
1. Noah Vonleh: 6-9.75, 247 pounds – PF Indiana
Stats: (In 26.5 MPG) 11.3 PPG 9.0 RPG 52.3 percent FG
Best case scenario Vonleh falls here to give Jefferson a young big man to groom, play next to, and balance out the offense without sacrificing the defense. Prototype four at the NBA level today.
2. Marcus Smart: 6-3.25, 227 pounds – G, Oklahoma State
Stats: (In 32.7 MPG) 18.0 PPG 4.8 APG 29.9 percent 3PT
Another “perfect world” scenario here with Smart sliding to the Hornets to create a tough-as-nails backcourt that can defend, score, attack, and keep the defense on their toes for 48 minutes a night.
3. Gary Harris 6-4.5, 205 pounds – G, Michigan State
Stats: (In 32.3 MPG) 16.7 PPG 2.7 APG 35.2 percent 3PT
The new regime created a top-10 overall defense with a good enough offense to get to the playoffs. Harris is a two-way combo-guard who can shoot, make plays with the ball, and defend both backcourt positions effectively.
4. Dario Saric: 6-10, 223 pounds – F, Croatia
Stats: (In 46 Games) PPG 15.7 RPG 3.4 APG 33.6 percent 3PT
This is a bit of a risk, which is nothing new for the franchise, but a calculated one with Saric’s ability to create offense from the perimeter as a combo forward. He allows Walker to play off the ball and attack as a scorer at times.
5. Nik Stauskas: 6-6.5, 207 pounds – SG, Michigan
Stats: (In 32.3 MPG) 17.5 PPG 3.3 APG 44.2 percent 3PT
If the Big 8 are all off the board and the Hornets have to decide between Harris, Saric, and Stauskas, shooting might prevail as the trump card. At worst, Stauskas will be a niche shooter and at best a long-term compliment to Walker on offense.
Kemba Walker needs some help or he is going to work himself into an injury or early retirement. Adding a play-maker has to be the primary goal, or at the very least some spacers on the perimeter between him and Al Jefferson that can balance the offense…
What do you think?
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