Can Kai Jones Become A Superstar For The Charlotte Hornets?

Kai Jones, Texas (Photo by Chris Covatta/Getty Images)
Kai Jones, Texas (Photo by Chris Covatta/Getty Images) /

The Charlotte Hornets made a big move in the 2021 draft. Trading away a future first-round pick to move up to 19th overall, the Swarm selected University of Texas superstar Kai Jones.

Over his two-year collegiate career, Jones averaged 6.2 points per game, four rebounds per game, and one block per game. During his 2020-2021 campaign, he was awarded the Big 12 Sixth Man of the Year Award. What intrigued scouts the most about Jones was his intensive defense, which should translate well into the NBA.

In 2020-2021, he had a block percentage of 4.2 which ranked seventh in the Big 12, and he had a steal percentage of 2.1, which was good for 19th. His 24 blocks ranked 9th in the Big 12, and his 96.3 defensive rating was ranked 13th out off all Big 12 centers.

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Kai Jones is the Hornets’ Next Superstar. At 21, Jones has limitless potential and already-elite defensive prowess.

He hasn’t made much noise for the Hornets this season. In 19 games played, he’s put up an average of 1.1 points per game over 3.1 minutes per game. Those are just sample size numbers. What really stands out is his dominance in Greensboro.

This season for the G-League Affiliate Greensboro Swarm, Jones is averaging 16.6 points, 11.7 boards, 1.6 steals, and 1.9 blocks over 31.6 minutes. His elite defensive efficiency jump right off the stat sheet. His blocks per game ranks sixth out of all centers, and his steals per game puts him at 35th out of all players in the G-League.

His rebounds per game ranks fourth in the G-League, which is higher than Tacko Fall, Isaac Bonga, Jordan Bell, and Cheick Diallo, who have all had significant run in the NBA. His Player Impact Estimate is 15.7, which is five points higher than the average estimate. He also has an impressive 10% offensive rebound percentage and a 17% total rebound percentage.

Overall, he’s an excellent defender. When near the rim, he can throw it down hard. I think he can be the next Dwight Howard or Rudy Gobert. His 6’10” height coupled with his 7’2″ wingspan gives him the ability to block shots at a high percentage.

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If he can gain a little more muscle he will be a freak of nature to watch. He could develop into the dominant rim protector that the Hornets need.