Charlotte Hornets: Way too early NBA draft targets for 2018

EAST LANSING, MI - FEBRUARY 7: Miles Bridges /

Although the 2017-2018 season hasn’t started yet, it’s never too early to look into what might be in-store for the future. Here’s a look at who the Charlotte Hornets should target in next year’s draft.

The Charlotte Hornets have done an excellent job at revamping their roster this offseason. However, there is always room to draft improvement.

Charlotte is a “small market” team by NBA standards. It is historically much harder to attract superstar free agents to that kind of organization. This makes rebuilding the roster through free agency alone relatively, not an option.

That being said, it is very important for a team like the Hornets to make their draft picks count. While it would appear that the team got it right this year, they have a chance to capitalize next year as well.

More from Swarm and Sting

The 2018 draft pool appears to be another promising class. This article will attempt to project who among the upcoming class the Hornets should target. The focus will be on mid-first round prospects since the Hornets are likely to finish among the top six to eight teams in the conference.

Here are three current and/or future collegiate stars that I think should be on our radar:

Who is he: McCoy is a promising center prospect from San Diego, CA. At 6’11” 245 lbs, he has the requisite size to play in the post in the NBA. He is ranked 15th overall in the ESPN 100 and appears poised to start from day one at UNLV. His scouting report is as follows:

"McCoy has long arms, soft hands, and is an exceptional athlete. There isn’t a post prospect in his class that has the quick feet, soft touch, length, and bounce of McCoy. He can face-up his defender and utilize his quick 1st step to get to the rim. He is a quick jumper who gets numerous tip-ins with either hand and his timing is impeccable. Despite his size he handles the ball very well in transition and can finish at the other end, usually with an above the rim finish. In the half court set he shows a nice shooting touch out to the elbow and his drop-step move is very quick. –ESPN Analyst"

How he fits: McCoy is an excellent candidate as a long-term replacement for Dwight Howard. Howard is still under contract for two more seasons. This would give the team plenty of time to bring McCoy along slowly. While McCoy doesn’t appear to be an offensive juggernaut, he will not have to be in coach Steve Clifford’s system.

As talented as he is, he stands a good chance of falling in the draft behind fellow freshmen big men Deandre Ayton and Mohamed Bamba. At this moment, it appears very likely he could fall to Charlotte.

Who is he: Bridges is a high-flying combo forward that is among the best returning players in college basketball. The Flint, MI native is known for his highlight-reel dunks, but actually, has a well-rounded game to go with it. He averaged 16.9 points and 8.3 rebounds to go with a respectable 38% shooting from long distance as a freshman at Michigan State last year.

How he fits: At 6’7″ 230 lbs, Bridges is physically ready to contribute to an NBA team already. He would immediately be a hit with Charlotte fans. He regularly gives relentless effort and can play well above the rim. Bridges would bring a welcome versatility to the Hornets lineup. He is a natural small forward, but can play guard or inside in spurts.

Bridges is very talented but could get forgotten behind the storm of incoming freshman phenoms. He might not even be the best draft prospect on his team. If this holds true, the Hornets could have an opportunity here. If Michael Kidd-Gilchrist doesn’t improve or if the team wants a cheaper replacement for Nic Batum, they might want to look at Bridges.

Who is he: Hands is another hyper-talented member of the 2017 class. Coming after Lonzo Ball, he has a tough act to follow as the lead guard at UCLA. The #19 player in the ESPN 100 appears up for the challenge, however. He plays an attacking, score first kind of style that has become a trend in today’s NBA. He also has good size for the position at 6’3″. While this is ideal for the point guard spot in the league, Hands could end up playing both guard positions in college.

How he fits: Hands would obviously not start over Hornets star Kemba Walker. However, he could possibly serve as an immediate upgrade over Michael Carter-Williams. His role could be as instant offense off the bench. Hands and 2017 draft pick Malik Monk together could put up points in a hurry. Scorers and athletes seem to be two things you can never have too much of, and Hands gives you both.

Next: Hornets' top-5 guards of all-time

Hands is the number three point guard in his class. While this position is at a premium in the NBA, it is hard to predict exactly where he will land in next June’s draft. Physically, he has all the tools.  His game, however, still appears to be a bit raw. This might be the perfect storm of factors, however, to make him a potential Hornets draft pick. Hands might not be a major contributor right away, but his potential makes him well worth the wait.