For all the chatter surrounding the Charlotte Hornets possessing the 2nd overall pick in the 2023 NBA draft, it’s easy to forget that the team will also be on the clock with the 27th selection too. While finding a genuine difference-maker so late in the first round isn’t likely, there is always a chance of obtaining a legitimate role-player for the future.
Assuming that the Hornets don’t package the pick in a trade before they make their selection, Mitch Kupchak could go in multiple directions as he looks to improve the raw talent on Charlotte’s roster. As such, the positional fit will likely be a secondary thought, as the front office should target the best talent available at the tail-end of the first round.
With PJ Washington (restricted), Dennis Smith Jr (unrestricted), Kelly Oubre Jr (unrestricted), and Theo Maledon(restricted) all hitting free agency, there will be plenty of roster spots up for grabs. With that in mind, here are three players the Charlotte Hornets should target with the 27th draft pick.
#3 James Nnaji
I know what you’re thinking; the Hornets already have some developmental talent in the center of the court, with both Nick Richards and Mark Williams. However, given the dominance of multi-skilled big men in the NBA right now, having a versatile center with exceptional length and athleticism is never a bad thing.
James Nnaji is currently playing for Barcelona of the Liga ACB – one of the best leagues in Europe and has also amassed two years of EuroLeague experience, playing against some of the most talented players outside of the NBA. This season, Nnaji has placed 26 Liga ACB games, averaging 4.9 points and 3 rebounds per game in 12 minutes of playing time. When participating in EuroLeague basketball this year, Nnaji has averaged 2 points and 1.2 rebounds in 6 minutes of playing time.
Nnaji is certainly a raw prospect at the NBA level, but the Hornets could either opt to stash him in Europe for a year or two to continue developing or hope that the step up in talent allows him to realize his potential at a faster rate. Regardless of his current skillset, Nnaji boasts all the physical tools to excel at the NBA level, standing at six-foot-eleven with a seven-foot-seven wingspan and a motor that would allow him to become a genuine rim-runner in the coming years.