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Charlotte Hornets: 2022 NBA Draft Team Needs and Targets
With the 2022 NBA Draft fast approaching, we're taking a look at what each lottery team needs to target with their draft selections, continuing with the Charlotte Hornets.
Welcome back to our No Ceilings 2022 NBA Draft Lottery Team Series!
Over the next few weeks, we as a team are going to dive into the needs and targets of each lottery squad. What are the weaknesses and holes of each franchise? Are there players targetable in the lottery who can help fill those gaps?
We will answer those questions and more 5-on-5 style, continuing with the Charlotte Hornets!
Without further ado, let’s see where Charlotte should look for some help with the 13th overall pick.
1. What do you think is the biggest weakness for the Hornets that NEEDS to be addressed on draft night?
Nathan: Better rim protection would be the most obvious answer, as the Hornets have been looking for a long-term center for a while. But defense all over the floor, with the athleticism to match the team’s frenetic pace on offense around the hit-ahead master in LaMelo Ball, should be the overarching need.
Tyler Rucker: A center. Seriously, I find myself praying to the basketball gods for Charlotte Hornets fans to finally have a center that they can get excited about for more than one season. Buzz City needs to get a rim protector or someone that can become a force inside the paint on both sides of the floor.
Tyler Metcalf: Rim protection. There’s a reason that the Hornets are constantly linked with any and every disgruntled center in the league. The sooner they add some interior defense, the sooner their outlook improves.
Nick: The Hornets desperately need to improve their interior defense. Their inability to prevent opposing teams from cruising into the paint and scoring on them at will severely hampered Charlotte’s upside last season, and that poor paint defense was the root of their defensive woes overall.
Albert: Defense would be a good place to start, right? I think the Hornets could definitely use some help in terms of rim protection, but a strong perimeter defender would be great as well. Adding a tough defensive wing with the 13th or 15th pick would not be bad.
Alex: A true roll-man to pair with LaMelo ball that can also protect the rim. While Montrezl Harrell was a nice upgrade on offense, he lacks the defensive ability that Charlotte desperately needs at the center position.
Evan: While the Hornets possess one of the NBA’s most exciting young offenses, helmed by one of the league’s most promising young stars in LaMelo Ball, they are drastically lacking on the defensive end of the floor. This was a team who didn’t have one single player on their roster last season, averaging more than 0.9 blocks per game. So, whether it be adding rim protection or some help to lock down the perimeter, Charlotte’s focus in this draft should be to get better on defense. Adding a secondary playmaker should also be on the table if possible.
Maxwell: Defense and rim protection, period. A strong rim protector would make everyone’s job easier, but given their struggles as a whole on that side, I would take defense into consideration regardless of which position I’m targeting.
Stephen: It’s defense. It’s rim protection. It’s sneakily some relief in shot creation for LaMelo Ball.
2. Which position group would you target most for the Hornets: Guards, Wings, Forwards, or Centers?
Nathan: Centers for sure, but there are also some forwards and wings who would fit the criteria and could be good targets for the team to look at with their picks.
Tyler Rucker: Seriously, I’m not joking…they need a Center. Other than that, they are in a great spot to add a strong wing if they choose to. With how the board could shape up, Charlotte could find themselves in a great spot at 13 and 15.
Tyler Metcalf: Center. Luckily for them, this is a really deep center class in terms of guys who can produce right away. It would be surprising if they came away without one entirely.
Nick: Centers. Charlotte could use another shooting wing or two, but they need to shore up their interior play on defense. A rim-running lob threat with defensive skills would do a lot to strengthen the Hornets squad, both for next season and for the future. I still believe in Kai Jones, but they could use another big man prospect even with Jones in the picture.
Albert: I think a versatile Wing and a defensive-minded Center would be good for them.
Evan: Centers, Forwards, and Wings should all be in play for the Hornets come draft night.
Maxwell: I would absolutely say centers first and foremost, but it wouldn’t hurt to get more wing defenders in the mix if you don’t like your center options.
Stephen: You could make an argument for anywhere along the frontcourt, but the guard rotation is thin in terms of true shooting guards. Bouknight is a player that still could hit, but is he a player you’re worried about putting in a position to prove himself? I wouldn’t think so.
3. Is there any argument for the Hornets to draft based on fit around a core group of players, or should “BPA” be in play at all times for Charlotte on draft night?
Nathan: The Hornets aren’t in a position like even the Cleveland Cavaliers. This HAS to be BPA with both the 13th and 15th picks. Even though the argument could be made for fit based on having LaMelo Ball and needing to start winning to bring appreciation to his talent, that same argument could be used for going BPA. This team can’t afford to whiff on both of its first-round picks, so taking the best players has to be the play here.
Tyler Rucker: It depends on how the board is going to shape up, but I do believe that Charlotte is now going to find themselves in a great position to strategically add some great assets in this draft. The Hornets need some depth in their backcourt, and they also need to leave this draft with a potential starting center. There’s a realistic chance they can get both of those accomplished on Draft night. While that might sound like drafting for fit, if the board shapes up a specific way, that also could be a bit of BPA.
Tyler Metcalf: Similar to the Cavs, it depends on who falls, but I still think fit is the best route. They have a really promising young core, and if a high upside wing falls to them, I get it; however, their lack of rim protection is a massive hindrance to their current potential.
Nick: I would argue for BPA to a certain extent here, but I think that the Hornets should not pass up a good fit if the right players fall to them. Charlotte could still use more talent, but they were close enough to the playoffs for enough of last season that the right piece could be worth passing up on a slightly better prospect.
Albert: I still think this team is at a place where BPA would be best. The Hornets aren’t one piece away from being title contenders. I think they should be looking to add high-end talent at pretty much every position.
Alex: The Hornets already have a bonafide star in my mind with LaMelo Ball, but they still are not very good. That’s why I think the best move would be BPA outside of the PG position, which is not a strength for this class anyways. If they ended up just drafting whichever center falls to them (Jalen Duren or Mark Williams), I would be fine. But if both guys are off the board, they should absolutely draft the BPA and not reach for another center.
Evan: It’s BPA for me, given the current state of this Hornets franchise. They’re trending upwards, no doubt about it, but adding as much talent as possible to their roster should continue to be the goal.
Maxwell: I would say BPA. Their best players are flexible enough that you can fit most players around them. This is a team early in its building process, and it would be foolish to pass on potential high-end talent because you’re panicked about the center position right this instant.
Stephen: It’s BPA. Tsunami Papi is a Free Agent to be. Who knows what will happen with Hayward. Ball and Miles Bridges are the players you’re looking at as safe in the rotation. The players that would be available around the 13th (and 15th) pick don’t project to rival them much at all.
4. Who are the Top 5 targets for the Hornets to select with the 13th pick?
Nathan: Mark Williams, Jeremy Sochan, Jalen Duren, Malaki Branham, and Jalen Williams would be my primary targets—starting with size, and looking at some forwards, wings, and guards if Williams and Duren are off the board.
Tyler Rucker: Mark Williams, Malaki Branham, Jalen Duren, Ochai Agbaji, Jeremy Sochan. Grab two of those, and give high-fives around the war room. Great success.
Tyler Metcalf: Mark Williams, Jalen Duren, Malaki Branham, Jeremy Sochan, and Ousmane Dieng.
Nick: Mark Williams, Jalen Duren, Malaki Branham, Jeremy Sochan, and Ochai Agbaji.
Albert: Jalen Duren, Jeremy Sochan, Dyson Daniels, Mark Williams, Benedict Mathurin.
Alex: Jalen Duren, Mark Williams, Jeremy Sochan, Tari Eason, and Malaki Branham
Evan: Mark Williams almost seems too good to be true in terms of how he can fit in with and impact this Hornets team. His shot-blocking would be an instant upgrade to a frontcourt that really has no rim-protecting presence whatsoever. But I also think Jalen Duren, Tari Eason, Christian Braun, or Keegan Murray would be stellar choices for Charlotte at 13 too.
Maxwell: Jalen Duren, Mark Williams, Jeremy Sochan, Jalen Williams, and Ousmane Dieng.
Stephen: I think it’s likely Mark Williams could be available at 15, so don’t come for my head for this selection. I like Jeremy Sochan here. I’d also love Mark Williams at 13, Tari Eason, Ochai Agbaji, and Patrick Baldwin Jr.
5. Who is an under-the-radar surprise target for the Hornets?
Nathan: Jalen Williams is my answer here. On the latest Draft Deeper episode, I mock-drafted him with their 15th pick for the arguments I gave above. The Hornets can’t afford to bust on either of their two first-round picks; if Williams gives them a comfort level to take at the 13th pick should their primary target not be there, I wouldn’t be afraid to take the plunge on a 6’5” rangy wing with shooting, ball skills, and a defensive motor.
Tyler Rucker: I definitely cannot get the E.J. Liddell curveball out of my head. While the Hornets do need a “natural” center, they could get a little fancy and double down. Liddell has the ability to be a dynamic pick-and-pop weapon, but he’s an underrated defender with some SERIOUS shot-blocking ability. He could become a real wildcard for Charlotte.
Tyler Metcalf: E.J. Liddell. Liddell is a versatile defender who plays bigger than he is and provides offensive versatility. He would also give the Hornets a safety net if they end up moving off P.J. Washington to get back other pieces.
Nick: The Hornets could decide that they are close enough to the playoffs at this point to just take a swing with one of their two picks in the first half of the first round, and I think that Jaden Hardy might make sense as that upside swing. He can play more of an off-ball shooter role early on in his career and continue to improve his passing game, and potentially grow into another young star for Charlotte if everything goes right for him.
Albert: Christian Koloko. What if they bring Koloko in for a workout, and he just blows them away, and they grab him with the 15th pick in the draft? I know it’s crazy, but that’s an under-the-radar move that I actually don’t think is as crazy as people think. I’m not saying I’d do it, but I wouldn’t be shocked if it happened.
Alex: Ochai Agbaji could be a guy who goes higher than expected, and it wouldn’t surprise me if Charlotte is the team that ends up taking him in the lottery. He would add some much-needed floor spacing and defense next to LaMelo Ball. While he may not be the sexiest pick, if this team does want to make a run at the playoffs next year, I would understand getting a plug-and-play guy like Agbaji.
Evan: This probably isn’t ideal from a fit standpoint, and I don’t expect him to fall to 13, but Dyson Daniels might be a really intriguing pick for the Hornets. He’s one of the best perimeter defenders in the class, so he solves some of your defensive needs. Plus, I think he can alleviate the massive playmaking duties that Ball has placed on him currently and also thrive playing alongside LaMelo at times, with how he can score off the ball.
Maxwell: Jake LaRavia. I buy him as a defender at the next level. He’ll give them some additional size and shooting, and his passing arsenal makes him a natural fit in a free-flowing offense led by LaMelo Ball.
Stephen: MarJon Beauchamp could be a much-needed pro that could provide great defense, a running mate in the fast break with Ball, and someone that can move well without the ball. As we always say: “It just takes one team.”