Who Should the Hornets Draft in the First Round?


The NBA draft is rapidly approaching and the Hornets are in a favorable position after some new found lottery luck.

Since the Bobcats franchise started in 2004 the team had never moved up in the draft, either staying in or moving back from their original draft position. On May 20,2014 the Charlotte franchise officially changed their name to the Hornets and simultaneously changed their luck as well.

As the Cavaliers won the lottery, the Pistons draft position was pushed from 8th to 9th. In doing so, the Hornets were awarded the pick stemming from the trade that swapped Corey Maggette for Ben Gordon and a protected first round pick. Cho was highly praised around the league for landing a first round pick for essentially an extra year of Ben Gordon’s contract.

Charlotte also owns Portland’s pick at 24 from the Gerald Wallace trade. Here are my opinions as to who the Hornets should select on June 26th when they are on the clock.

Pick #9: Nik Stauskas

Feb 23, 2014; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Michigan Wolverines guard Nik Stauskas (11) celebrates against the Michigan State Spartans in the second half at Crisler Arena. Michigan 79-70. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Charlotte has to add perimeter shooting whether it be through free agency, by trade or through the draft. Rumor has it Doug McDermott is the Hornets’ main target with this pick because his skills on offense seem to be NBA ready. Although he is slightly underrated athletically, he still has questions to answer on defense and must figure out what forward position he should play. My pick here would be Nik Stauskas. Shooting over 44% from three point range last year, Stauskas certainly can add the perimeter shooting Charlotte desperately needs, plus a little more. When Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer asked what one NBA scout thought of Nik, the scout responded with a comparison to a Hornets favorite. He said there are not many shooters who, as they catch the ball, are cocked and ready to release their shot in one fluid motion. In his opinion, Dell Curry and Nik Stauskas both had / have this unique skill. Taking it a step further, the scout mentions, unlike Curry, Stauskas has some shake to his game and has the ability to put the ball on the floor to create for himself and his teammates. Stauskas averaged 3.3 assists this past season, proving he is more than just a spot up shooter. Like McDermott, there are questions about his defensive upside but there is no question what position he will play. Standing 6’6” Stauskas sports great size for an NBA two guard. Stauskas offers the ability to help immediately off the bench with his perimeter shooting skills, but also has the size and tools to develop into a dangerous two guard in the future.

Pick #24: Shabazz Napier

Apr 7, 2014; Arlington, TX, USA; Connecticut Huskies guard Shabazz Napier (13) reacts after shooting an air ball against the Kentucky Wildcats in the first half during the championship game of the Final Four in the 2014 NCAA Mens Division I Championship tournament at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

The pivotal word when discussing the 24th pick is chemistry. All involved with the team this past season believed there was something special about the locker room and the way the players seemed truly vested in each other on and off the court. P.J. Hairston has been connected to Charlotte for many reasons. As mentioned before, the Hornets are in dire need of perimeter shooting and Hairston proved he has NBA level talent from the outside, averaging 21.8 points per game in the NBA D-League. He has also been brought into Time Warner Cable Arena twice for pre-draft workouts, showing that the Hornets brass at least has some interest. So why would Charlotte hesitate taking him with the 24th pick? His past definitely raises concerns. Hairston ran into trouble left and right when attending The University of North Carolina to the point where he was no longer allowed to play. To be fair, Hairston did mostly stay out of trouble throughout his time in the D-League, but would Charlotte want to take the risk of messing up one of the best dynamics of the team last year?

Enter Shabazz Napier. A college teammate of Hornets’ guard Kemba Walker, Napier would have no problem melding into the team. He would instantly fill the void behind Kemba as his backup point guard, adding a much needed scoring punch off the bench. While leading his UCONN Huskies to an NCAA championship, Napier shot an impressive 40.2% from three last year. Combining his leadership, scoring and familiarity with Walker, Napier would not only keep from disrupting team chemistry but actually add to it. Both Hairston and Napier bring skills that Charlotte needs but Shabazz comes without the baggage. Obviously its impossible to know exactly who will be available this late in the draft, but it would be tough to pass on Napier if he is there at 24.