Are the Charlotte Hornets Drafting the Right Players?


Mar 25, 2015; Charlotte, NC, USA; Charlotte Hornets forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (14) in a time out during the second half of the game against the Brooklyn Nets at Time Warner Cable Arena. Nets win 91-88. Mandatory Credit: Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

The Charlotte Hornets’ leadership talks a lot about building from within and the importance of drafting effectively.  The team has had more than its fair share of lottery picks over the past several years.

It is common knowledge that the Charlotte franchise has whiffed on a few high-profile opportunities in the draft.  The most glaring miss was Adam Morrison who was taken at the #3 pick in 2006.  He went from aspirations as the second-coming of Larry Bird to a Video Assistant for Gonzaga (did anyone else see him on the sideline at the Duke Gonzaga game the other night?)

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But what about some of the other draft picks since then?  Let’s take a look at who was drafted as well as who could have been drafted in those spots:

2008 – drafted D.J. Augustin at #9.  D.J showed some potential but never panned out as a key guy on the team.  It was a questionable pick to begin with because Charlotte already had a point guard in Raymond Felton.

Could have drafted: Brook Lopez, Roy Hibbert

2009 – drafted Gerald Henderson with the 12th pick in the draft.  I’m torn on this one.  Henderson has been a solid player for years on this team.  Despite this, his name surfaces in nearly every trade rumor involving the Hornets so the leadership obviously isn’t enamored with him at this point.

Could have drafted: Jrue Holiday, Ty Lawson, Jeff Teague

2010 – Charlotte had no draft picks in 2010.  Yes, none.  The 2010 class was loaded with talent, including: John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Derrick Favors, Greg Monroe, Gordon Hayward,  Paul George, and Eric Bledsoe.

2011 – drafted Kemba Walker with the 9th pick, and traded up to #7 to draft Bismack Biyombo.   Walker has become a cornerstone of the roster.  While he hasn’t been an All-Star, he has shown flashes and has arguably been the best player on this franchise since he was drafted.  Biyombo, however, has been a disappointment.  We knew he was raw and that he needed time to develop, but now that he is in year 4 it seems that he isn’t the game changer Charlotte was hoping to land.

Could have drafted:  Klay Thompson, Kawhi Leonard, Kenneth Faried, Jimmy Butler, Nikola Vucevic

2012 – drafted Michael Kidd-Gilchrist with the #2 pick – Charlotte was coming off the worst season in the history of the league and still ended up with he #2 pick, missing out on Anthony Davis.  Even though the ping pong ball didn’t fall Charlotte’s way, this pick is starting to look like a good one.  MKG blossomed this season.  While he still has a ways to go with his shot, he is an elite defender and the most dynamic player on the team.

Could have drafted: Bradley Beal, Damian Lillard

2013 – drafted Cody Zeller at #4 – I was not a fan of this pick when it was made, but I understood the rationale for it.  The jury is still out on Zeller but we have seen some flashes from him this season.  He has shown the shooting range and the athletic ability that we were all told about when the Hornets drafted him.  It will be interesting to see if he will ever develop more of a physical presence inside the paint.  If he does, he may be worth that #4 pick.

Could have drafted: Trey Burke, Michael Carter-Williams, Giannis Antetokounmpo

2014 – drafted Noah Vonleh at #9 and P.J. Hairston (via Miami) at #26 – There isn’t much to say about this one, other than that we have seen Vonleh for an average of 6.8 minutes per game this season. That, and Hairston has been in the headlines way too often for non-basketball related issues.

Could have drafted:  let’s hold off on this until we have a bigger sample size

The moral of the story is that the Hornets (and Bobcats) have had a really checkered past when it comes to drafting talent, particularly when they’ve had lottery picks.  A few guys have panned out, a few have been busts, and a few haven’t gotten enough chances to tell yet.

What we do know is that not a single player drafted by this franchise has made an All Star team.  That says a lot.  For a small market team that must draft well to compete, the Hornets have missed some huge opportunities in the draft over the years when there was little margin for error.  The result: a middle of the road Eastern Conference team that is fighting for the 8th spot in the playoffs.

Next: Hornets Must Heat Up To Make Playoffs

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