Making sense of the Charlotte Hornets’ trade up possibilities

Jun 23, 2016; New York, NY, USA; A general view of a video board displaying all thirty draft picks in the first round of the 2016 NBA Draft at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 23, 2016; New York, NY, USA; A general view of a video board displaying all thirty draft picks in the first round of the 2016 NBA Draft at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports /

The Charlotte Hornets are in a tricky position in the upcoming draft. The 2017 NBA Draft is widely considered one of the deepest drafts in recent memory.

Some consider it better than the 2003 draft that saw LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, and Dwyane Wade selected. Making a move into the top-10 could give the Charlotte Hornets another star to build around and away from mediocrity. The only problem is that they currently hold a pick that’s in the lottery but not in the top-10.

When looking at the draft, there are 10 players that possess star potential. At No. 11 in the draft, the Hornets are on the outside looking in on those players. Sure, Charlotte can add a solid player at 11, but looking at the landscape of the league, teams need multiple stars to win. If the Hornets want to be contenders in the East, then trading up in the draft should be a possibility.

Trading into the top-three is close to impossible, given the Hornets lack of assets. But moving up to in the lower half of the top-10 is more likely. With this year’s draft being so deep, teams may choose to hold onto their picks. So Charlotte will have to blow away other teams with their offer.

More from Swarm and Sting

Potential suitors

The Dallas Mavericks at No. 9 is a team the Hornets can switch picks with. Mark Cuban and rebuilding do not go together, especially with Dirk Nowitzki career winding down. Charlotte could offer Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and No. 11 for Wesely Matthews and No. nine. That would give Charlotte a top-10 pick and move Nicolas Batum to his natural small forward position. While the Hornets give up a strong rebounder in MKG, they add shooting in Matthews (lifetime 38 percent shooter from three).

Another trade partner could be the Sacramento Kings. With two picks in the NBA Draft at No. five and No. 10, perhaps the Kings would be flexible to trade one of them. While trading up one spot doesn’t make sense, if the Hornets can pull off a trade into the top-five, then it would be a doozy. It would take a lot. Check out this proposed trade deal.

Hornets receive: Arron Afflalo, Kosta Koufos, and No. 5 pick

Kings receive: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Cody Zeller, No. 11 pick and 2018 2nd round

Charlotte would be giving up a lot in the future, but adding a top-five talent could be worth the sacrifice. Zeller has shown to be a capable center in this league with his energy and athleticism, but teams can win without a top center, just look at the Warriors. Koufos would be serviceable at center with his physical nature on defense and the boards.

The tougher question is, would the Kings accept the deal? While Kidd-Gilchrist and Zeller are not stars, they are young enough to continue developing into quality starters on winning teams. Both are athletic and not shy towards hustling. In addition, Sacramento would still have two first-rounders (back-to-back picks at that), so they could still select a potential star. Trading into the top-five would be a dream scenario, but again, all dreams don’t come true.

Who do the Hornets select? 

If the Hornets were to move up to nine, the elite scorers in Jayson Tatum and Malik Monk would most likely be gone. Should either one slip that far, Charlotte shouldn’t hesitate at turning in the draft card once they’re on the clock.

If not, Charlotte could address the backup point guard position. Dennis Smith Jr. is a local product from NC State (grew up in Fayetteville, NC) that could bring the buzz back to the bench. Smith is an offensive dynamo, that can create his own shot and for others. He also had two triple-doubles during his freshman year. Smith could be the replacement the Hornets were looking for after Jeremy Lin‘s departure.

Next: How the Hornets can become contenders by 2019

Should the Hornets manage to get into the top-five, then selecting one of the aforementioned scorers should be on the ticket. Tatum would give Charlotte another go-to option and a quality rebounder. Should Tatum be gone, Josh Jackson of Kansas could be another option. Jackson’s playing style is reminiscent of Kidd-Gilchrist, but the Kansas product is much more polished on the offensive end.