With such a high frequency of trades that take place in the modern NBA, one thing remains constant. That is, most fans forget about the precise details regarding the future draft capital that their team has acquired. These exact circumstances directly apply to fans of the Charlotte Hornets.
Though the trade that sent Devonte’ Graham to the New Orleans Pelicans only took place just two months ago, some may already have forgotten what assets Charlotte got in return for the Kansas product.
Most recall that the Hornets received fifth-year wing Wes Iwundu in the trade, but what really moved the needle was the 2022 lottery-protected first-round pick general manager Mitch Kupchak got in return from New Orleans.
Why is this important in mid-October? Because of Zion Williamson. Specifically, his health.
If the Pelicans’ first-round pick lands outside of the lottery in 2022, then Charlotte owns the rights to that pick. If not, it turns into two second-round picks.
On Thursday, Shams Charania of The Athletic reported that Williamson would be re-evaluated in two weeks as he recovers from a foot injury. General manager David Griffin said that there was no timetable for the third-year star’s return.
If Zion Williamson can stay healthy, the Pelicans’ odds of making the places (getting out of the lottery) increase tenfold - that's the only chance Charlotte has if they want to receive an additional first-rounder this upcoming summer. Unfortunately, during his first two seasons, the Duke product has had trouble staying on the court. Hornets fans need to pray that changes this year.
By looking at this young Pelicans’ roster, it’s difficult to envision this team putting together a successful season worthy of a playoff birth in such a deep Western Conference. You also have to factor in that the team will be with their third head coach in three years after David Griffin fired Stan Van Gundy and brought in first-time head coach Willie Green.
So are the odds that the Hornets land that first-round pick high or even reasonable? No, they are not stacked in their favor but one can only dream.
When you have one of the best young talents in the league in Zion Williamson, your ceiling is always elevated and the possibilities are endless. But if Zion’s health continues to sideline him again this season, Charlotte’s chances of getting that first-round pick are slim to none.
So Hornets fans, root for a healthy Zion Williamson and hope for the best.
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