As the Charlotte Hornets begin their off-season preparations, the need for a young forward to pair with LaMelo Ball will undoubtedly be a discussion point among front-office members. Whether Mitch Kupchak and Co. decide to acquire that forward via trade or via the draft remains to be seen.
However, the upside in bringing in a player that already has some level of NBA experience can’t be overstated. After all, the more information you have on a player and where their ceiling projects to be, the better. As such, Bleacher Report’s Zach Buckley believes that the Hornets should explore a potential trade for Golden State Warriors forward Jonathan Kuminga, listing him as their ‘dream trade target.’
"“The Hornets need building blocks, but they also need keepers who won’t cost an arm, leg, and torso to get,” Buckley wrote. “There is a non-zero chance Jonathan Kuminga, the No. 7 pick in 2021, could qualify as such. The Golden State Warriors wouldn’t let him go for cheap, but they might be amenable to a deal after watching him fail to crack the playoff rotation. If the Hornets can get Kuminga for less than a premium price, they should. The 20-year-old has elite physical tools and has shown high-end flashes on both ends of the court. He needs a situation with more developmental minutes available than there are in Golden State, and Charlotte could give him all the floor time he needs to climb toward his towering two-way ceiling.”"
Kuminga, 20, has participated in 137 regular-season games for the Warriors over his first two seasons in the NBA, averaging 9.6 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 1.4 assists per contest while shooting 51.9% from the field and 35.3% from deep.
Unfortunately for the young wing, he is currently on a team that is attempting to squeeze the last few years out of its legendary core and, as such, has little time to commit to player development. It makes sense, then, that should the Charlotte Hornets produce a trade offer or help facilitate a trade that could further improve the Warriors’ rotation in the short term, they may be able to acquire a genuine two-way talent in return.
During the Warriors’ 2023 NBA playoff run, Kuminga saw the court for an average of 6.1 minutes per game over 10 contests – it’s the minimal role that is so telling about his current ability to develop with Golden State. With his route to a larger role in the rotation looking increasingly difficult, Kuminga could welcome a move to the Hornets, where he would be allowed to play through his mistakes while developing with the other young talent around him.
Of course, the Charlotte Hornets could decide against trading for Kuminga or any other young forward/wing if they acquire Brandon Miller with the 2nd overall pick or bring in a developmental talent with their 27th selection in the draft – both of which are viable options.
Right now, the Hornets have a plethora of options heading into the offseason, and that’s not a bad place to be for a team that has missed out on the postseason for the past seven years and counting.