Sports Illustrated predicts Charlotte Hornets to draft Onyeka Okongwu

USC Onyeka Okongwu. (Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images)
USC Onyeka Okongwu. (Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images) /

With the NBA Draft likely occurring in four months, the Charlotte Hornets will have even more time to check out potential draftees.

As many know, the Charlotte Hornets will not be one of the twenty-two teams finishing their season in Orlando. However, the NBA Draft will be something that the team can finally put all of their focus on.

After the plan to resume the season was voted on, the Hornets found out that the NBA Draft would occur on October 15th, with the regular season likely tipping-off on December 1st.

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While the Hornets can now focus on the draft, many major media outlets have started to give their predictions on who the team will draft. Earlier this week, Sports Illustrated showed Charlotte some love by predicting that the team would receive the 4th pick in the draft.

At this spot, Sports Illustrated projects the Hornets will draft Onyeka Okongwu, who’s a one-year college player. As a freshman, Okongwu played very well for the University of Southern California.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic forced the NCAA to cancel the rest of the season, Okongwu still managed to play in 28 games; he started in every game that he played in. Okongwu finished his freshman season by averaging 16.2 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 2.7 blocks per game.

Sports Illustrated that Onkongwu would be a “cleaner fit here given what he brings to the table.” Coach Borrego has made it known that he wants to see the team address the lack of rim-protection.

During his first year in college, Okongwu finished in 9th place in the NCAA in blocks per game. Okongwu also finished the year with a defensive box plus/minus of +4.9.  His defensive presence is what helped lead USC to their 22-9 season.

One of the most interesting things about Okongwu is the fact that he can still grow a couple of inches. At 6’9, he is very similar in height to Bismack Biyombo; however, Okongwu seems to be more gifted on offense.

Rebounding and defense was an issue this season for the Hornets, as the team finished 28th in defensive rebounds and 26th in blocks per game. With these problems being known issues, will the team look at upgrading the frontcourt?

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The NBA Draft will be at an odd time this year, but the Charlotte Hornets will still have the opportunity to prepare. It will be interesting to see where the Hornets end up after the NBA Draft lottery.