Tom Sorensen

Wingspan, Part II: How the Hornets can win in the NBA draft and beyond

If the Hornets want to make a splash, they’ll need to take a chance. The best opportunity? Still Harry Giles of Duke.
If the Hornets want to make a splash, they’ll need to take a chance. The best opportunity? Still Harry Giles of Duke. rwillett@newsobserver.com

The Charlotte Hornets grabbed this town when they wisely ditched their Bobcats’ moniker. The name change pulled fans in. To keep them, the Hornets have to win.

Would you settle for eighth place and a first-round playoff series next season against the Cleveland Cavaliers? How about seventh place and a first-round playoff series against the Boston Celtics (or Philadelphia 76ers)?

To make the playoffs, and to have even a chance to win a series, the Hornets have to nail this draft. They have to find a player who has the talent and drive to start. If he doesn’t start, he needs to make an impact when he enters the game. Hear those fans cheering? They’re cheering for him.

That’s why the Hornets should make one of the biggest gambles in their draft history and select Duke big man Harry Giles.

Giles has ripped up both knees, and he obviously is susceptible to another injury.

Do the Panthers draft linebacker Thomas Davis if they know he’ll three times rip up the same knee? If they have any idea how good he’ll be, of course they take him.

Giles is 6-11 and 222 pounds, and a year ago was considered the best prep basketball player in the country.

If he again injures the knee, Charlotte fans can say, “What a dumb pick. Man, I wish we had taken another 7-foot guy from the Big Ten.”

Why risk the pick?

If Giles does not suffer another knee injury, the Hornets have a player they can build around.

Nobody else who will be available when they draft can offer that.

Oh. Giles’ wingspan is 7-3¼.

Tom Sorensen is a retired Charlotte Observer columnist. Sign up for his newsletter, and follow him on Twitter: @tomsorensen

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