The Charlotte Hornets have a long list of failed draft picks, but one pick will possibly go down as the worst the team has ever made.
If any franchise has had an odd existence, it’s the Charlotte Hornets. First, their team gets moved, much to the chagrin of nearly every resident of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg area. Then, fans are left wondering who to cheer for as the team would keep the same name they grew to love over the course of a decade while playing in a new city.
Not long after, the city regains a team, with a different name, only to see them fester in the throes of mediocrity before re-acquiring the name of the original Charlotte Hornets nearly a decade later. On top of all of that, the greatest player to ever play the game becomes the majority owner of the team.
Add in quite a few head-scratching front office moves and you have what many would consider one of the most interesting (to put it lightly) franchises in all of sports. One such baffling front office decision was their pick in the 2006 NBA Draft.
In fairness, it wasn’t exactly the deepest of drafts, but to say the team could have done a better job is an understatement. Of course, if you’re reading this, you know I’m referring to one Adam Morrison, a 6’8″ forward out of Gonzaga.
Every NBA team has drafted a player that never panned out. Adam Morrison might be Charlotte’s best example.
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At the time, Morrison seemed like a surefire pick, and Michael Jordan, then the Manager of Basketball Operations, had every reason to draft him. Prior to leaving for the NBA, Morrison averaged a staggering 28 points per game in college and was Co-Player of the Year in his final season, sharing the award with Duke’s .J.J Reddick.
Adam was very much a big deal in college and comparisons to all-time greats like Larry Bird were commonplace. Most experts fully believed he was an elite prospect coming out of college and that he was a definite superstar in the making.
So, with the third pick in the NBA Draft, the Bobcats would select the 22-year old, and expectations were high as the Bobcats were still looking for a star to play beside former Rookie of the Year, Emeka Okafor.
For perspective, names like Rudy Gay, Brandon Roy, Rajon Rondo, and Kyle Lowry were taken after Morrison. Perhaps this failed pick set the tone for draft-day ineptitude for the franchise.
His rookie season saw mixed results at first, but then he was benched midway through the season as his defense would prove to be less than desirable and the shooting he displayed in college had not transferred to the professional level. He scored just 12 points a game in his rookie season.
His second year would be even worse as he suffered a torn ACL that would see him miss the entire season. He would play just 44 games for Charlotte during the 2008-2009 season and averaged a mere 4 points before being traded to the Los Angeles Lakers.
In fairness, he was a member of two championship teams with the Lakers, but he only played in just 40 games for the purple and gold. After that, he would try and continue his career with the Washington Wizards, and then in Europe with varying success.
An attempt at a comeback to the NBA was made as Adam would play In the summer league for several teams, but would end up being waived or cut before seeing real NBA action.
Many have claimed Morrison to be the biggest draft bust in Charlotte basketball history and there’s a good case for that being true. Few players taken by the team with that high of a pick have failed to live up to the promise that comes with it so spectacularly.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist was a player many found to be disappointing, especially after being taken second overall after his former Kentucky teammate, Anthony Davis. Davis is one of the best players in the league and will surely join the Hall of Fame at some point, should his stellar play continue.
MKG, however, has been simply a fine defensive player, at best, and is still playing in the NBA, although on a different team. So, him being a bust isn’t necessarily valid. He was disappointing relative to his draft position, but a bust he is not.
So, if not MKG—who again, was a serviceable player for Charlotte—then it certainly has to be Morrison. In the list of players taken in the top five of the NBA by a Charlotte franchise, only Morrison had such a quick jettison from not only the team but the entire league.
Even if you count players drafted in the top ten, his decline is by far the most significant. To have so much promise and to be so heralded as Morrison was, only to fall so far, was truly something else.
Much of it wasn’t his fault, though, as that ACL tear might have been the catalyst for his downfall, and his struggle with Type 1 diabetes is well known and is something he deals with to this day. To live the life of a professional basketball player while also having to continually monitor your blood sugar is a task for which many people are not suited.
It can be easy to forget that athletes are human too and it’s even easier to dogpile on them when they don’t perform at the level fans wish to see. Morrison is often the butt of many a joke among Charlotte Hornets fans and criticism is fair, but failure isn’t always 100% on the individual and Adam Morrison proves that.
Had things gone even just slightly different, we may be discussing one of the greatest players to ever play in the Queen City. Instead, we speak of a player who might be the Charlotte Hornets’ biggest regret.