Who in the Duke-Wisconsin Game Would be the Best Fit for the Charlotte Hornets?


Mar 30, 2015; Charlotte, NC, USA; Charlotte Hornets head coach Steve Clifford yells during the second half against the Boston Celtics at Time Warner Cable Arena. The Celtics defeated the Hornets 116-104. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Like many basketball fans, I’ve watched more than my fair share of March Madness over the past few weeks.  It all came to a close last night as Duke took down Wisconsin.  Those two teams are both pretty well stocked with talented players that will get their chances to play in the NBA (some sooner than others).

As I was watching the game, I started to wonder which player between Duke and Wisconsin be the best fit in a Charlotte Hornets uniform.  As I was thinking about this, I wanted to consider the current makeup of the roster and who would actually make the most sense and not just who I thought the best player would end up being.

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Duke (in my humble opinion) has the more talented roster, so let’s start there:

Justice Winslow:  He is a super talented, high energy, defensively minded small forward that can power his way to the basket.  Sounds a lot like a guy that the Hornets already have on the team: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.  Do the Hornets want or need another MKG?

Jahlil Okafor:  I have noticed a few things about Okafor.  When he has the ball, he can get to the basket with tremendous quickness for a guy his size.  His offensive game is fairly well-polished for a true freshman.  That said, he isn’t a fan of playing defense and that really bothers me.  Furthermore, he was outplayed last night by a quicker, more athletic big man who we will mention shortly.

Tyus Jones:  Wow, this kid is super impressive.  He is an assassin out there and will not hesitate to take the big shots in crucial situations.  He’s a scrapper and a hustler and makes those around him step up their game.  Jones would bring some sorely needed swagger to the Hornets, particularly on the offensive end where it is badly needed.  The only concern is that he is a small-ish player at 6 foot 1.  And then there’s the fact that we already have Kemba Walker.

Wisconsin has some NBA caliber players as well.  Let’s take a quick rundown of the best of them:

Frank Kaminsky:  The player of the year was outstanding last night, making big plays when he was needed the most.  I love his size at 7 feet tall.  He has good ball skills, great range, and a quick first step that all combine to make him a major commodity in the NBA.  When I think about him as a potential Hornet, I try to consider where he may fit in on the team.  Al Jefferson has already played his best basketball and may not even be with the team next season, so there may be a need there.

Sam Dekker:  I must admit, I hadn’t paid a ton of attention to Wisconsin basketball prior to the last couple of weeks.  Dekker is a guy that I had not seen much of previously.  That said, it’s not hard to see the potential in his game.  While last night wasn’t his best night by any means, he has good size and is solid shooter with the range to step back and drop a 3.

Nigel Hayes:  Hayes is another guy who really benefited from the exposure that the NCAA tournament gave him over the past few weeks.  He can ball.  I love his energy and versatility.  Last night, he proved that he wasn’t scared to take the big shot and knocked down some key ones.  He can rebound, defend, drive, and knock down the three.  As a 6-7 small forward, I’m not sure that he fits the Hornets roster as another small forward.

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All this said, it is tough to pick one guy out of these that would be the best fit on this roster.  If I’m picking one, I’m taking Frank Kaminsky as a Hornet.  While I really like some of these other guys (Winslow, Jones, Hayes), they don’t necessarily fill a key need for the Hornets.  Kaminsky is the one who would fill a major hole as a big guy who can score, hustle, and play defense.

Part of my logic behind this pick is that I feel less than confident that Al Jefferson will be back with the team next year.  If Al is gone, there is a huge hole in the low post.  While Kaminsky may be more suited for the power forward position in the NBA, I could see him immediately get major minutes as part of a forward/center rotation that includes Zeller, Biyombo, and (please) Vonleh.

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