Charlotte Hornets

Why Charlotte Hornets' draft pick doesn't think he's ready for NBA

With the signing of College of Charleston’s Joe Chealey, general manager Mitch Kupchak’s first Charlotte Hornets training-camp roster is at 19.
With the signing of College of Charleston’s Joe Chealey, general manager Mitch Kupchak’s first Charlotte Hornets training-camp roster is at 19. AP

Arnoldas Kulboka doesn’t yet look like an NBA player, and he said he doesn’t believe he is an NBA player yet.

That's consistent with why he was drafted 55th overall by the Charlotte Hornets last month: The intent was for him to continue playing in Europe, developing both physically and in his skill, and hopefully be ready to compete for a roster spot in a season or two.

Kulboka, a 6-foot-9 Lithuanian forward-guard, is in Charlotte for mini-camp and will play for the Hornets in Las Vegas Summer League. The 20-year-old is essentially on loan from the Italian League, where he played last season.

“I understand that I’m not ready for the NBA level right now. I have to get stronger,” Kulboka said. “And maybe they want me to get more experience in Europe. I think it’s a smart choice. I understand that.”

Kulboka is best known for his outside shooting; he made 37 percent from the international 3-point line last season. But he believes the attention he’s drawn as a shooter has overwritten his ability as a playmaker. He has played point guard, shooting guard and small forward and thinks once he fills out he could play some small-ball power forward.

Hornets assistant Jay Hernandez, who will coach the summer roster in Las Vegas, said these two weeks for Kulboka can be a low-key introduction to what the Hornets want from him eventually.

“You just want to make sure that they feel comfortable with their surroundings,” Hernandez said. “With the system that’s in place and feel part of everything that is going on with the franchise. Arnie came in today and brought a lot of energy. Like all rookies, they’re wide-eyed and have a lot to learn.”

Rick Bonnell: , 704-358-5129; @rick_bonnell
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