Stephon Castle a popular pick for Charlotte Hornets at No. 6 overall

With the Charlotte Hornets falling in the 2024 NBA Draft Lottery, is UConn guard Stephon Castle their new No. 1?
Connecticut Huskies guard Stephon Castle (5) cuts the basketball net after winning the Men's NCAA
Connecticut Huskies guard Stephon Castle (5) cuts the basketball net after winning the Men's NCAA / Joe Rondone/The Republic / USA TODAY

Even though luck wasn’t on the Charlotte Hornets’ side during the 2024 NBA Draft Lottery on Sunday, falling from No. 3 to No. 6 overall, it honestly might have worked out okay for an organization ready to take a significant jump forward next season.

Charlotte would have love to secure the top option available at their choosing, but in a weaker class than most years, trusting your own internal scouting department will matter a lot. The 2024 NBA Draft is viewed nationally as one with no real superstar talent, but plenty of prospects who could shine in role player-type assignments long-term. For a team like the Hornets who already have their two key pillars in place — point guard LaMelo Ball and wing Brandon Miller — fit alongside those two will be of the upmost importance moving forward.

Luckily for Charlotte, one prospect pegged right around the top-five range checks almost every box they are prioritizing: UConn combo guard Stephon Castle. For the national champion Connecticut Huskies last season, Castle averaged 11.1 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 1.3 steals/blocks during his freshman campaign becoming widely known as one of the best on-ball defenders in the class.

In the early assessment of mock drafts post-lottery results, Castle and the Hornets are becoming a strong prospect-team match. Two of the most intel-based draft analysts, Sam Vecenie (The Athletic) and Jonathan Wasserman (Bleacher Report), both pegged Castle to Charlotte at No. 6 overall.

Connecticut Huskies guard Stephon Castle (5) is introduced before the national championship game of
Connecticut Huskies guard Stephon Castle (5) is introduced before the national championship game of / Patrick Breen/The Republic / USA TODAY

“Castle makes a ton of sense for the Hornets as a secondary ball-handler between LaMelo Ball and Brandon Miller,” Vecenie wrote. “He’s also a tough-minded defender who can take difficult assignments across the perimeter.”

During UConn’s championship run through the NCAA Tournament, Castle averaged 12.5 points, 5.7 rebounds and 2.8 assists while shooting 49.1 percent and guarding the opposing team’s best scorer.

“The Charlotte Hornets will value Stephon Castle’s secondary playmateing, physicality attacking the rim and outstanding defensive toughness,” Wasserman wrote. “With LaMelo Ball returning and Brandon Miller entering his second year, the may be able to afford playing a limited shooter like Castle.

He’ll likely start his career operating as a Josh Hart-like Swiss Army knife-type who’ll move the ball, drive, make hustle plays and lock down defensively. But he played more point guard in high school, and he was used in plenty of ball screens at Connecticut. There is some enticing on-ball upside with his size and strength, particularly if he’s able to improve his pull-up."

Castle’s supreme fit in Charlotte not only would accentuate Ball and Miller, but also hide the freshman’s missing element of consistent perimeter shooting. Alongside Ball in the backcourt, Castle could hound point guards while slashing towards the basket on the offensive end.

For a team in desperate need of talent infusion defensively, Castle might be the Hornets’ best available remedy at No. 6 overall.

Envisioning Castle in the Hornets’ rotation, here’s how their potential startling lineup would look: Ball, Castle, Miller, Miles Bridges (if re-signed), Mark Williams. That right there is an exciting mix of balance Charlotte is seeking this offseason.

Whether it be Castle or another prospect, Charlotte must hit this year’s draft out of the park.

Stay tuned to Swarm & Sting for in-depth draft coverage on all potential prospect fits in their range.