Someone asked Charlotte Hornets general manager Rich Cho Friday which need he hopes to fill in Thursday’s NBA draft.
Cho answered it’s impossible to tell what the Hornets’ needs are right now.
Cho’s point: The Hornets have eight players becoming free agents July 1 and five of those were in last season’s rotation. So who could say what needs they will still have to fill after the chips fall in free agency?
The NFL’s calendar starts free agency well before the draft. The NBA is the opposite. The draft comes days after the conclusion of the playoffs, which is necessary to run summer league in July in preparation for the next season.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Charlotte Observer
Cho’s greater responsibility will be managing free agency. For now, the oft-stated cliché – “take the best player available” – really will apply to what they do with the No. 22 overall pick.
“We feel like it’s a deep draft and we’ll get a good player at No. 22,” Cho said during a press briefing Friday. “At the same time, we’re looking at a lot of different options: moving up, moving back, moving out of the draft altogether.”
The draft starts at 7:30 p.m. (ESPN and ESPN radio). Teams have up to five minutes between picks in the first round, so the Hornets figure to make their one selection (they have no second-round pick this year) around 9:15 p.m.
The Hornets have had a top-10 pick in each of the previous five drafts. It’s far easier in those circumstances to predict who might be available than when a team is picking in the 20s.
Particularly so in a draft such as this one, where scouts say there might be only marginal difference between a player chosen 10th and a player chosen 25th.
The one clue Cho did drop about this draft is its strength and weakness. Cho said there are plenty of good wing players (shooting guards and small forwards) and a decent number of quality big men. By comparison, the point guard position is shallow.
That could work in the Hornets’ favor. Since the Hornets might lose shooting guard Courtney Lee in free agency, it would make sense to take a wing player at No. 22.
Some possibilities at the wing positions who could be available when the Hornets make their pick:
Malik Beasley, Florida State: An athletic shooting guard who plays somewhat like Cleveland’s J.R. Smith. He’s recovering from a stress fracture.
DeAndre Bembry, St. Joseph’s small forward: He grew up in Charlotte before relocating to New Jersey and then Philadelphia. Impressive physically, but needs to improve his shooting.
Malcolm Brogdon, Virginia guard: Has the defensive skills and court savvy coach Steve Clifford should admire, but is 22 too high to select him?
Patrick McCaw, Nevada-Las Vegas shooting guard: He shot 36 percent from the college 3-point line last season and averaged 2.5 steals per game. Worked out for the Hornets Sunday.
Denzel Valentine, Michigan State: A highly skilled small forward who has often been connected to the Hornets in mock drafts. There is some concern around the NBA that a knee condition could shorten his career.