Devin Booker: The Right Pick For The Charlotte Hornets?

facebooktwitterreddit’s mock draft has Devin Booker going 10th overall to the Miami Heat, so he is definitely in the range the Charlotte Hornets will be picking in the 2015 NBA Draft, assuming they do not trade up or trade down. There has even been speculation by the Charlotte Observer’s Rick Bonnell that this is the direction the Hornets are going to take.

Bonnell notes that Booker was interviewed by the Hornets at the NBA’s draft combine and Booker seemed to like the fit with the team during his interview:

"“Every team needs shooters, but Charlotte would be a great fit for me,” Booker said. “They already have a (Kentucky) alum in Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and I’m close with him. I’d love to play in Charlotte.”"

That is good for Booker to be aware of his fit, and certainly on the surface this seems like a perfect match. The Kentucky wing shot 41.1% from three point range during his college career and hit 51.7% from the field overall. He has the shooting touch Charlotte needs, and at 6’6″, he has the size to play either the shooting guard or small forward position.

More from Swarm and Sting

NBADraft.Net assesses Booker’s strengths:

"High basketball IQ and 3-point specialist … Good feel for the game and makes smart plays … Sharpshooter who’s shooting release and form is mechanically sound … Silky-smooth and lighting quick release with a soft touch … Has good balance and accuracy on his shot and releases the ball at its highest point … Nice body control when shooting jumpers and driving/finishing at the rim … Efficient shooter from the 3-point line (shooting 40 percent on 3-pointers) … Great floor spacer … Terrific scoring instincts … Can hit big shots … Possesses a deadly step-back jumper … Makes shots from the corners and at the top of the key … Strong free throw shooter (shoots north of 80 percent) … Can hit mid-range jumpers (shooting 52 percent on 2-pointers) … Tremendous range … Ability to catch-and-shoot and make shots off the dribble … Efficient shooter off pick-and-rolls and while coming off screens … Takes good shots … High-volume shooter and scorer …"

High IQ player with a great shot and some positional versatility on the wing. If you had crafted a player in this year’s draft to meet the needs of the Charlotte Hornets, you probably would have arrived at a guy with those exact strengths. Booker is not a perfect player, though.

His athleticism might not be NBA caliber and even though he is tall, he does not have a great wingspan. NBADraft.Net points out some flaws in his game:

"Lack of an explosive first step makes it dificult to keep defenders from crowding him … Not an amazing run/jump athlete or physical specimen … Has a small body frame (wingspan) considering his height … Gets to the rim and foul line sporadically … Average ball-handler … Has not shown great instincts passing out of dribble penetration … Lacks the strength needed to defend quicker and more athletic players’ dribble penetration through contact … Needs to get stronger … Unable to fight well over the top of screens … Puts his body on the driver as they get inside the arc, resulting in foul trouble … Could be a bit more aggressive (but controlled) on the defensive end … He’s not long, as his wingspan is an underwhelming 6’6 ¼ … Lacks the length to effectively contest shots in the perimeter …"

Basically, he has half of the three and “D” motto teams look for in a solid wing player. Booker has the three part of the equation, but the “D” is missing. During his interview with the Charlotte Observer, he compared himself to Klay Thompson:

"“A lot of people say Klay Thompson and I like that,” Booker said of the Golden State shooting guard. “I study a lot of 2-guards – not only looking for new ways to score but because I’ll have to defend those players. I’m looking at what their tendencies are.”"

That is not a realistic comparison. Thompson is an accomplished NBA defender who has the strength and size to effectively contest the game’s best perimeter players, such as James Harden. Thompson is such a valuable player to the Golden State Warriors because he spaces the floor and he takes the tough defensive assignments allowing Stephen Curry to blossom on the offensive end of the floor.

If Devin Booker was forced to guard James Harden in the half-court, things could ugly very quickly. Harden might score 80 points. A comparison to a solid NBA player that is closer to the truth might looking at Washington Wizard’s shooting guard Bradley Beal.

Beal is a terrific shooter who also does not have great athleticism and is not a defensive force. While Beal is not a terrible defender, no opponent stays up at night thinking about how to score on him. Nevertheless, Beal’s shooting stroke and his high basketball IQ make a very positive contribution on the basketball court.

Booker’s ceiling is probably as the next Bradley Beal. Which would be good considering he is projected to go late in the lottery. Imagine this Charlotte team if they had Beal in the back-court with Kemba Walker. That sounds good to me. So while Booker might be comparing himself to the wrong guard, he does have a future in the NBA, possibly even becoming an All-Star.

Next: Would The Charlotte Hornets Take Cameron Payne?