I have to start off by just throwing this out there. Trades to make a team better are great. The organization can move contracts to gain talent, to unload contracts that are unfavorable, to get rid of a “bad egg”, or to even just unload someone to free up cap space. With that said, I can’t understand why when a team makes a trade, everyone wants 15 more trades. I’m a strong believer that when a trade is made, you don’t want to swap out too many parts. You wouldn’t do that if you were working on a car. If there’s an issue with a car and you swap out a part to make it better, I would rather spend money on one part at a time to see how it improves things than spend tons of money on a bunch of parts, put them all on and possibly only see a tiny improvement than what I had before. The same holds true for the Hornets. We all knew that Miles Plumlee was not the answer for the team. We also knew that Marco Belinelli was helpful and useful, but not part of the long term future of the team. Lastly, we knew that last year, the bench took a step back. Therefore, we made a trade to move 2 players and our 41st pick for Dwight Howard and the 31st pick. Dwight is a major improvement from Miles, and we need to find more youth that can shoot for the future. The trade improved us for now and for the future. The higher pick allows us to gamble on a better draftee. I don’t really want to see another cluster of trades because lots of moves are not good things. Chemistry is important too. Lots of moves would force a new chemistry team to be formed. I’m good with what we’ve done, and any other trades that happen, I would prefer them to be to strengthen the bench…unless there’s one more move to make the starting 5 even stronger without sacrificing too much talent, cap space, draft picks, or mortgaging the future for the short term. I’m happy with what has transpired so far and I am eager for tonight’s draft.
I can admit that I do not watch much college basketball. These players, I do not know a ton about other than watching the Strengths and Weaknesses on the Draft Express website. From that, I draw my own decisions. The Hornets usually draft the “Best Player Available”. That’s fine with me unless we wind up drafting a player that plays the same spot for 5 years and we aren’t trading the ones that didn’t work away for an asset we need. I like to take a look at the depth chart, for example, and try to see what I think we need the most.
After last season, I know for a fact that we need depth behind Kemba Walker, and Ramon Sessions is not that guy. Briante Weber is an amazing defender, has great leaping ability, and I think he could be the solid answer behind Kemba. This offseason will be key for him to sharpen his skills at the PG spot. He will get to learn all of the Hornets playbook more in depth, and can make his game fit them. I do not see Sessions in a Hornets uniform next season, and Brian Roberts is gone, so basically we should have 2 PGs available as the season starts.
At Shooting Guard, Nic Batum and Jeremy Lamb are the 2 guys we got. Nic is an amazing passer, and Lamb, if he gets more consistent, could be a major threat this coming season. Jeremy Lamb is the key at this spot. He has to get consistent range and decide if he’s going to be a solid and consistent shooter, a slasher, and dependable defender and rebounder, or if he’s going to be like he’s been for the last couple years and play spotty. Again, there are only 2 guys at this spot available next season.
Small Forward is my biggest concern. We have Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Treveon Graham. MKG…I love the guy and I love his work ethic, but if he can’t start scoring north of 12 points a night, I’m looking at him as a 6th man. Graham had his moments last year, but I can’t see him as more than a 3rd option at SF. We don’t have but 2 SFs right now, so that is a glaring problem. Short of a trade to get a scoring SF that is in the league right now, I’m looking most heavily at a small forward being drafted. The last time we drafted one, it was MKG and Jeffery Taylor. With the acquisition of Dwight Howard, I could see the possibility of Frank Kaminsky starting at PF, which could free up Marvin Williams to play the small forward position, but I don’t know if he still has the explosiveness to keep up with the small forwards that are in the league right now. It is an option though, so I will think about it.
At Power Forward, we have Marv, but we also have Frank Kaminsky. Johnny O’Bryant is also with the team right now, but he would most likely be a 3rd option at Power Forward. This is a spot that I just don’t know who starts. From SF to PF to C, it could become a toss-up.
Dwight Howard and Cody Zeller are our 2 centers at the moment. Cody has been working hard since last offseason to add more mass and strength to himself to play the center position. When Cody was hurt, Frank did a good job at that spot as well. Frank just needed to add mass, and that’s what he’s been trying to do. If he’s added enough, you have a rotation of Dwight, Cody, and Frank that could all play the center position, and they could also moonlight a little at power forward.
So what do we do with the 11th and 31st pick? Sports Illustrated says we pick Donovan Mitchell at 11. They state he’s one of the most athletic players, has great defense, but isn’t that great shooting from the outside. Draft Express agrees that we take Mitchell. SB Nation, however, says we set our sights on Duke shooting guard, Luke Kennard, who could be the best shooting prospect in the draft. Bleacher Report agrees with SB Nation, saying that though he has limited explosiveness, strength and length, he comes across as smart, crafty and skilled enough to compensate as a scorer and passer. Fox Sports is part of the Donovan Mitchell wagon stating that although Mitchell is undersized, he and Kemba Walker could form a deadly backcourt in a couple years.
So, according to the experts, we need to draft a shooting guard. Specifically Mitchell or Kennard is where we need to be looking. Does that mean they believe MKG could be backed up by Jeremy Lamb? I still see that the small forward spot is the thinnest position we have. Granted, if we pick the best player available, perhaps those experts are correct. I don’t think that at the 11th pick we will get a starting caliber small forward. I do thing we could draft a player like Justin Jackson, who could score some points and may become something really special for us, but he could also become a bust once he’s in the NBA. That’s a risk we should probably avoid at the 11th pick. We have to pick someone solid.
Bottom line: I think we draft a wing. Technically Nic Batum could be a starter at the small forward position. If someone like Malik Monk fell to us, and we could get him, he could become scary good with us. We just never know how things will pan out until the pick is announced, and we also never know when a trade may hit. My best advice is to tune in tonight and watch what happens. I will say this; trust in Cho and the organization. They will make the best move they can make. If the trade for Howard doesn’t make you believe that, I don’t know what will. Rich Cho will continue to work his magic, and I’ll keep on BEE-LIEVING in him and the organization.