All eyes are currently on the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers. Both represent the cream of the crop in their respective conferences, reaching the NBA Finals in back-to-back years.
There are few shortcuts that propel a team to this particular level of success, which is why the draft is so imperative to a franchise’s future. The Charlotte Hornets will be faced with some tough decisions on June 23 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, which could ultimately impact the franchise’s trajectory for years to come.
Below are potential picks the Hornets could make at number 22, according to multiple mock drafts, as well as other Hornets buzz.
Mock picks at #22:
Bleacher Report and Hoops Hype – Diamond Stone, C, Maryland. I mentioned this guy here, and think he has serious potential to be an added force in the paint. He’s been compared to Kendrick Perkins but I think he has more offensive game than Perk.
USA Today – Malik Beasley, SG, Florida State. You can never have too many scorers in the NBA. Beasley is a one-and-done gunner from nearby Georgia, who shot 39% from the 3-point line last season in Tallahassee.
CBS Sports – Taurean Prince, SF, Baylor. I briefly mentioned Prince here, a senior with a lot of collegiate experience under his belt. The 6’8” athlete does a little bit of everything and could be a great addition to a Hornets team looking to run.
NBA.com and NBADraft.net – Brice Johnson, PF, North Carolina. Compared to Taj Gibson, I think the athletic Tarheel will eventually be a solid contributor in the NBA. I really hope Michael Jordan and his team don’t make this selection purely due to fan interest, however (see: May, Sean). Take the best player available, and if it happens to be Brice, then it’s Brice.
Fox Sports – Damian Jones, F, Vanderbilt. A bit of a reach here if you ask me. If I were a GM this would be my theory on drafting big men: If you are seven feet tall, you should be averaging at least seven rebounds per game.
DraftExpress – Ante Zizic, C, Croatia. I don’t know how to pronounce his name. I don’t even know how to pronounce his agent’s name, so if you're searching for in-depth analysis on Zizic I'm afraid you've come to the wrong place. He’s 19 years old and averaged 13 points in the Adriatic League this season. I’m sure he’s a grainy You Tube video superstar, but I’ll pass.
The history of pick 22 – Here are the last ten picks made at #22 in the NBA draft. As you can see, the odds of landing a premier player are stacked against the Hornets:
2015 – Bobby Portis, Chicago Bulls
2014 – Jordan Adams, Memphis Grizzlies
2013 – Mason Plumlee, Brooklyn Nets
2012 – Fab Melo, Boston Celtics
2011 – Kenneth Faried, Denver Nuggets
2010 – Elliot Williams, Portland Trail Blazers
2009 – Victor Claver, Portland Trail Blazers
2008 – Courtney Lee, Orlando Magic
2007 – Jared Dudley, Charlotte Bobcats
2006 – Marcus Williams, New Jersey Nets
Initially reported on the FIBA website, it appears that integral swingman, Nicolas Batum, is indeed planning on staying a member of the Hornets. This is terrific news if true, as Batum was a major component in the team’s late-season surge up the Eastern Conference standings. Though Batum is not considered an alpha dog superstar like LeBron James or Kevin Durant, he certainly could still demand max money from a team ready to take the next step and contend further into the postseason.
Assistant Coach Stephen Silas could very well be on the move. The reigning champion Golden State Warriors will look to replace Luke Walton after the latter accepted the head coaching gig with the Los Angeles Lakers. As initially reported by Adrian Wojnarowski, Silas and Portland Trail Blazers assistant Nate Tibbetts are currently the top two candidates to sit next to Steve Kerr and yell at referees next season. Silas was also in serious contention for the Houston Rockets head coaching job until being filled by Mike D’Antoni.
Christopher Kreider | @krydr1