Charlotte Draft History Retrospective Part 2: 1993-1996

Charlotte Hornets (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Charlotte Hornets (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) /

Welcome back to the Charlotte Hornets draft history retrospective. For part two, we are taking a look at the first-round selections from 1993 through 1996. Many Hornets fans will immediately know that this was a rough stretch of draft picks. With that in mind, let us go ahead get through this together.

1993 – Greg Graham (17) and Scott Burrell (20)

The Hornets had two first-round picks in the 1993 NBA Draft and landed Greg Graham, a 6’4″ shooting guard from Indiana, with that first However, the rights to Graham were packaged with Dana Barros and Sidney Green and traded to Philadelphia for Hersey Hawkins.

Charlotte was on the board again just three picks later and selected Scott Burrell, a small forward from UConn.  While none of Burrell’s rookie numbers stand out, he did average 11.5 points per game in the 65 games he played for the Hornets during his second season.  Scott would go on to win a championship with the Chicago Bulls during their 1998 campaign, but he was squarely positioned deep in their rotation.

In hindsight, Sam Cassell was on the board and would have been my pick. Over his 15-year career, Cassell was selected to an All-Star team and an All-NBA team and won three championships.

1995 – George Zidek (22)

Charlotte did not have a first-round pick in 1994 as they had swapped picks with the Seattle SupeSonics the year before as part of the Hersey Hawkins deal. In 1995, the Hornets held the 22nd overall pick and selected George Zidek, a seven-footer from UCLA by way of the Czech Republic.

Saying that Charlotte took a gamble here would be an understatement. Zidek simply was not cut out for the NBA and lasted just a few seasons with three different teams. Greg Ostertag would have been the much better choice here. While Ostertag never won a championship or made an All-Star team, his 11 years in the league showed that he was durable and could stand up to an NBA schedule.

1996 – Kobe Bryant (11) and Tony Delk (16)

Here we are. We knew this was coming, so let us just get through it. With the 11th overall pick in the 1996 NBA Draft, the Charlotte Hornets selected Kobe Bryant. In a perfect world, the story ends here and we can all check back next week for part three. However, we all know what happened next. The future 18-time All-Star and five-time champion was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers for Vlade Divac. To be fair, both are in the Basketball Hall of Fame, but this trade was a landslide.

Five picks later, Charlotte selected Tony Delk, a combo guard from Kentucky. Delk would play a total of 64 games for the Hornets over parts of two seasons before being traded to the Golden State Warriors. The 1996 draft was a swing and a miss by the Hornets.

Final Thoughts

In part one of this series it felt like the Hornets got their picks right. In part two, it felt the opposite. Kobe Bryant may have never achieved all that he did in Los Angeles if he had stayed in Charlotte. Still, it is fun to think about what may have happened. The franchise would have been on a completely different trajectory and most likely would have never moved to New Orleans.