Hornets Off-Season: The Draft

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Published: May 30, 2008

I've poured over the various sites that give Draft information and put together the players I'd like to see the Hornets bring in for workouts and possibly snag in the Draft if they don't trade the pick.  In accordance with the off-season priority I put up yesterday, I focused mostly on the various big men available late in the first round, then the wings, then the backup guard slot.

The hard part about this is the prospects available this late are so hit and miss.  You can see reasons why they might succeed, but you can see reasons why they'd fail miserably as well.  Guess that's why our pick, on average, produces a useable player 29% of the time.  Yay!

For each player I included where Draft Express feels they will be picked(DX) and where they are ranked on Chad Ford's top 100 players at ESPN.

Big Men(PF/C)
If Marreese Speights or Roy Hibbert fell to us at 27, either would be good as a back up big prospect, I just don't think either of them will.  So here are the big men I think will be available that we should take a look at, ranked in the order I like them right now.

Ryan Andersen, California DX: 31st ESPN: 40th
Andersen is a very good shooter,(49 FG, 41 3pt, 87 FT) and may be the next coming of a forward like Rodney Rogers or maybe Keith Van Horn.  He's proven he's also a very good rebounder, and an adequate defender.  I think he'd be an excellent fit for the second unit, particularly because he's still a young prospect(20), which means he has a good chance to improve even more.

Richard Hendrix, Alabama  DX:33rd ESPN 37th
For a big man with the reputation of being a bruiser, Hendrix rarely turns the ball over, passes decently, and is unselfish.  He's not the most athletic guy around, but he reminds me a little of Brandon Bass without the baseline jumpshot.  I'd say he has a shot to be a solid rebounding big man, maybe in the Paul Millsap mold.

Jason Thompson, Rider DX: 28th  ESPN: 39th
Not well known, Thompson is a fairly aggressive and decently athletic big man, stands at 6'11, and can hit the mid range shot at a nice clip.  I think he'll be a solid backup in the league, and may end up being one of those 10 and 8 guys.  Reminds me physically of PJ Brown, but needs to keep a cooler head, and it will probably take him a few years.

Joey Dorsey, Memphis DX: 47th  ESPN: 42nd
I think this may be a bit of a reach at 27.  Dorsey did a lot of things really well; I love his energy and rebounding and defense, but he's undersized, and unlike David West, he can't shoot.  A lick.  Free Throw percentage is usually a solid indicator of whether a guy will be able to hit an outside shot with consistency.  Dorsey shot 38%.  Ben Wallace made a career without being able to hit a free throw, but I'm not sure Dorsey will ever be able to get an Afro that big.

Wing(SF/SG)
First, I'd love Chris Douglas-Roberts, who the latest ESPN mock draft has coming to us.  However, I've already stumbled across a half-dozen articles saying how great CDR is and how people will be sad to have passed on him.  If the hype machine is already starting, I doubt he'll fall to 27.  Brandon Rush(meh) and Chase Budinger(intriguing) are players that probably won't fall as far as 27 either.  Players who probably will be available at 27:

Courtney Lee, Western Kentucky DX:26 ESPN:35
Lee is a an impressive shooter, firing away at 47% FG, 39% 3pt and 82% from FT in college.  In a lot of ways, he strikes me as similar to Morris Peterson: He can rebound well, is solid defender, and lacks a little of a slashing game.

Shan Foster, Vanderbilt DX: 40th ESPN: 52
Shan is a monster shooter.  52% FG, 47% 3pt and 84% FT.  He may seem as bit of a reach at 27, but the guy is a lot like Rasual Butler, except without all that missing from the three point line.  He could easily play a role as an outlet shooter for Paul and Pargo – something our second unit could use. 

Bill Walker, Kansas State DX: 41 ESPN: 22
I mention Bill because some boards have him coming to us in the draft.  I'm not sold on him at all.  Sure the guy was coming off an injury, but that's his third knee injury.  Regardless, his primary game is as a slasher, and while that can be useful, his ranged shot is not accurate at all.  The Hornets offense requires spacing, and that's part of the reason Desmond Mason didn't work well in it.  Walker probably fits the same bill.

Guard(PG/SG)
I only came up with a couple guards who fall where the Hornets will be drafting on most boards that I'd even consider.  I also had one semi-surprising guy I would love to see get a shot at a Hornets Roster spot.

Mario Chalmers, Kansas DX: 36th ESPN: 24
Chalmers is intelligent, good with the ball, and a solid shooter.  If Pargo left, I would feel fine with Chalmers stepping in as a backup PG, though I'm not sure about his skills as a scorer in the off-guard slot, a role Pargo sometimes fills with panache.

Chris Lofton, Tennessee DX: Undrafted ESPN: 84
Lofton looks like he may go undrafted this off season.  If he does, I hope the Hornets extend him an invitation to training camp.  Lofton had some very good years previously, and showed promise as a combo guard in the league.  He played poorly at the start of this year, but later it was found that he had been fighting cancer during the season.  There are a lot of reasons I'd like to see him get a chance, but they aren't all even sentimental.  I think he has a chance to be a quality NBA player – and I would possibly even suggest considering him as our 27th pick if certain other prospects weren't available. 

Ty Lawson, North Carolina DX: 27th ESPN: 29
Ty has some pretty excellent-looking numbers, but in college the difference in pace between teams can be massive.  North Carolina played at break-neck speed, so Lawson's numbers are a bit inflated.  I like the idea of a Point Guard who wants to run, run, run, but let's be honest.  Other than Julian, who is going to run with him?  Our team is a slow one, and I don't think Lawson would be a great fit.

Of the prospects above, my overall ranking is:

  • Ryan Andersen
  • Courtney Lee
  • Richard Hendrix
  • Mario Chalmers
  • Jason Thompson
  • Shan Foster
  • Joey Dorsey
  • Chris Lofton
  • Ty Lawson
  • Bill Walker
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