Thompson: Three reasons Hornets should dream big about Wiseman

Danny Thompson

The Charlotte Hornets leaped from the eighth spot in the NBA Draft Lottery to ending up with the third overall pick. Charlotte has the ability to draft a player that has the potential to be a key player for the future. The pressure on general manager Mitch Kupchak to make the right pick is enormous. 

With plenty of options available, let's take a look at one of the players that could be available for the Hornets -- Memphis center James Wiseman.

Here are three reasons why Charlotte should take Wiseman -- and one reason why they should not -- if he is available:

NO. 1: DEFENSIVE PRESENCE

One of the major concerns the Hornets experienced in the 2019-20 season was concerns in the interior. Coach James Borrego could not find the right mix of players to keep the opposing teams from doing damage on both ends of the court. 

The rotation of bigs that were used this season, Cody Zeller, Bismack Biyombo, Marvin Williams (before his trade to Milwaukee) and Willy Hernangomez (when he was used) played the majority of the minutes at center.

On the defensive end, the Hornets ranked 25th or lower both defensive and total rebounds, block shots, points per game allowed in the post and rebounds allowed per game. If Wiseman is the selection, Charlotte would have the chance to immediately jump up in those rankings very quickly.  

Wiseman averaged 3 blocks per game and had a 13.6% block percentage (of two-point field goal attempts) in the 23 minutes he played during his time at Memphis. With a 7-foot-6 wingspan, being able to have the length to block shots not only will help him in man-to-man defensive coverage, but it allows him to have the ability to recover when he makes a mistake. 

Biyombo led the team with a 4.4% block percentage at 1.7 blocks per game. But he’s an impending free agent and might not return next season. 

Wiseman checks in around 235 pounds and even though it shows on him, he has a solid enough frame to be physical and take punishment from other teams' bigger players until he both fills out in an NBA weight room.  

NO. 2: SCORING ABILITY

While on offensive, the Hornets weren’t much better. They ranked 20th or lower in points, rebounds,field goal percentage and offensive efficiency among all of their frontcourt players this season. 

They haven’t finished in the top 10 in any of the categories since the 2017-2018 season, when Dwight Howard was in the low post. That season was the last season when a Hornets frontcourt player averaged more than 15 points and 10 rebounds per game. Charlotte has only had six players in franchise history to average those numbers in a single season. 

Drafting Wiseman would solve those problems on Day One. He possesses a soft touch for a center when it comes to his jump shot. And being a left-handed player also causes more problems for opposing defenses. He only had a couple of situations where he was a shooter in a catch-and-shoot situation and finished at 50% from the floor in those chances. He projects to be around a 31% shooter from the 3-point line based on his true 3-point effective percentage. 

But he is a terror on the low block. He already has a soft baby hook that when he gets in the right spots on the floor, he’s almost automatic. He shot 80% from inside the paint and is not scared to go right back up after an offensive rebound. The Hornets did not have one player with an effective field goal percentage over 57%. Wiseman was at 76% at Memphis. 

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Illustration courtesy TheStepien.com

If his shot is not falling, his ability to run the floor for transition baskets or being the roll man in a pick-and-roll situation makes him a threat as well. 

If you need examples: 

  • 0:13 mark- You see Wiseman on the pick and roll.
  • 1:40 mark- Wiseman shows his speed 

NO. 3: HIS ABILITY TO HIT THE GLASS

Earlier, I wrote about the Hornets' ranking when it came to rebounding. Wiseman not only averaged in double digits in rebounds, but he averaged 4.3 offensive rebounds per game. He compiled 10.3 rebounds a game in the 23 minutes he played, but if he played 30 minutes a night it averages out to 13.9 per game.

Wiseman is extremely athletic for his size and uses it to get solid position. His 21.4% offensive rebound percentage tells you how active he is on that end. It’s almost as high as his 26.4% defensive rebounding percentage.

In an offense that has players such as guards Devonte' Graham and Terry Rozier, who take their share of shots from distance, another athletic body will give the Hornets the ability to improve on their third overall offensive rebounding ranking.

NOW FOR THE UNKNOWN ...

Most times when you evaluate a college player, you have a pretty good sample size of games and footage. But because of an NCAA rules violation, Wiseman only appeared in three games last season. And in two of those three games, the opposition only had two players who stood 6-10. Those two players played a total of 22 minutes.

The one game he did play against a top-25 team (Oregon), he finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds. But he got into early foul trouble finished with a total of 22 minutes.

By the time Wiseman could potentially see the floor for significant minutes in a game, it would be over 13 calendar months and realistically close to two full years (his senior year) in time where he played games on a consistent basis.

Critics have questioned whether he has a constant motor or is an alpha dog type of center. Without a larger number of games and also games against higher level competition, there is not nothing to say he can or he can not. 

After his suspension, Memphis had four games against ranked teams, eight Power Five conference schools and the potential NCAA tournament that Weisman for which Wiseman would not have been available.

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