The Charlotte Hornets certainly have a checkered past with the NBA draft. The 2014 edition could prove to be their biggest blunder since they brought back the purple and teal.
There are many unfortunate decisions one can look back on in the history of Charlotte Hornets basketball. Ill-handled drafts, blown free agent signings, and bumbled trades are a common sight if you’re a fan of the team. Not all of it has been bad, of course, but there’s definitely a theme of squandered opportunity in the team’s past.
In recent memory, there is the 2012 NBA Draft, though, that one is somewhat out of their hands. Slightly more in our current timetable is the 2014 NBA Draft, the first draft after Charlotte regained the Hornets moniker.
To be fair, this wasn’t the deepest draft, nor was it the site for the biggest whiffs in franchise history. It was, however, a draft that saw the Hornets not only choose poorly but also trade those picks for what would eventually be catalysts for outcomes far worse than their initial selections.
Take Noah Vonleh, for instance. He wasn’t the best pick at No. 9, as players like Zach LaVine and T.J. Warren were taken not too far behind, but again, this wasn’t the most talent-laden draft and Charlotte was drafting for the need at the time.
The Charlotte Hornets tried some ambitious moves in the 2014 NBA Draft only to come up completely short.
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Vonleh would go on to play just 25 games in a Hornets jersey, missing some time with an injury. He averaged just 3.3 points per game. The following season, he would be traded to the Portland Trail Blazers, along with Gerald Henderson, for… Nicolas Batum.
I’ll admit, at the time, that probably seemed like a good idea. Batum was showing promise and looked to be trending upwards. In retrospect, that probably wasn’t the best move. Vonleh has bounced around from team to team, with a career average of just 5 points a game.
Charlotte would then select Shabazz Napier with the 24th pick that they received in the 2011 Gerald Wallace trade, only to then trade him to the Miami Heat for P.J. Hairston and the draft rights to Semaj Christon. Napier would have a fairly serviceable career and is currently on the Washington Wizards in a backup role.
Hairston, as many fans most likely remember, was involved with numerous run-ins with law enforcement throughout his career, ultimately resulting in his retirement in 2018. Christon would play less than one full year in the NBA, though not in Charlotte.
With the 45th pick, Charlotte selected Dwight Powell out of Stanford, and out of all the picks here, he’s probably had the best career… but of course, Charlotte traded him a few weeks after the draft to the Cleveland Cavaliers. He’s now a member of the Dallas Mavericks and while not putting up jaw-dropping numbers, is contributing to a team that is on the rise in the Western Conference.
So, out of all of this, the Charlotte Hornets have Nic Batum, a man everyone reading this is definitely familiar with. Not a single pick really panned out and a few resulted in arguably making the team worse.
Since then, though, they’ve made up for it, with the team drafting or making draft-night trades for players such as Devonte’ Graham, Miles Bridges, and P.J. Washington. It took hiring an entirely new GM in order for the team to do that, but sometimes, that’s what it takes.
That’s all in the past and the Charlotte Hornets have mostly recovered from it. It won’t be long until the next NBA Draft is upon us and hopefully, the team doesn’t have a repeat performance of 2014.