The Charlotte Hornets got lucky in the NBA lottery when they received the ninth pick in next month’s draft. Maybe they’ll get lucky again June 26. Maybe a player that could be outstanding – Marcus Smart of Oklahoma State or Julius Randle of Kentucky – trickles down.
It’s unlikely, but every NBA and NFL draft offers a surprise. Evidence is the guy who annually sits alone in the green room because his peers have been selected, signed, found housing in their new town and bought a luxury car.
If a potential star doesn’t trickle down, I have a candidate. He’ll bore you but he’ll offer the Hornets a quality they lack. He is Nik Stauskas, a 6-foot-6 guard from Michigan with the prettiest shot in college basketball. At 20, he’s old for a college player entering the draft. But I like him anyway.
UCLA guard Zach LaVine also is intriguing.
When a selection is made with the ninth pick, however, Charlotte might no longer have it. A team called Wednesday asking the Hornets if they’re willing to part with their picks. They are.
Would you rather have a rookie or 28-year-old Aaron Afflalo? A 6-5 guard, Afflalo averaged 18.2 points for Orlando this season, hitting 45.9 from the field and 42.7 on three-pointers without anybody noticing.
Could the Hornets trade the ninth pick to young and developing Orlando for the veteran?
The Hornets also have the 24th pick, and I would love, love, love to see them grab P.J. Hairston with it. Hairston, who played for North Carolina before being booted to the Development League, has enough talent to move into the lottery and enough baggage to drag him down to 24.
Whatever Charlotte does, it has to find a shooter. A shooter would create space inside for Al Jefferson and outside for Kemba Walker.
Walker, Charlotte’s point guard, still has detractors, which to me is inexplicable. They must stay home and study statistics – “I’ll look for a job tomorrow, Ma!” – instead of watching the Hornets at Time Warner Cable Arena or on TV. Kemba is fearless and talented, and he can play.
When the Hornets find their shooter Jefferson immediately has more room to work and Walker has more room to move. Whether it’s Stauskas or Afflalo, Doug McDermott or Hairston or Michigan State’s Gary Harris, whether it’s in the draft or in a trade, the Bobcats have to find a shooter.
They also need a backup center. When Jefferson went to the bench, the lead often went away. The backup has to do essential reserve center things such as catch the ball, put on a move and make a basket.
They also need a point guard to back up Walker.
The Hornets have needs and they have options. Do they retain Josh McRoberts? I hope so, and I’m certain they want to. How many teams have a big man that can and will pass like McRoberts?
But if he wants big money, I don’t know how the Hornets will respond. Every decision impacts every other decision. It’s like the family budget. If you rent the beachfront house, you can’t buy the new car.
The Hornets are in a place they have never been. They have youth, they have veterans, they have talent and they even have fans.
They are on the precipice of something neat and cool. The next month ought to help them get there.