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Point guard? Swingman? Hornets have draft decisions to make
Shooting a premium with Thursday's picks
 
Published Monday, June 18, 2018 6:01 pm
by Herbert L. White

The Charlotte Hornets need to draft some scoring. And defense, too.


With the two picks in Thursday’s NBA Draft, including the 11th overall, Charlotte is in the process of figuring out the best way forward in a league that values volume scoring above just about all else. The Hornets have an all-star point guard in Kemba Walker and a defense-oriented center in Dwight Howard, but points were hard to come by, especially in the clutch. That’s why they brought in 69 draft-eligible players for workouts ahead of Thursday. Most mock drafts have Charlotte taking a wing or point guard at No. 11, the logical choices given the Hornets’ needs. Here are some of the top contenders:

• Miles Bridges, SF, Michigan State


Bridges would be a ‘tweener in an old-school NBA, but at 6-6 in today’s game, he’s got the skills the Hornets need. Bridges is a shooter who also excels as a passer and more than adequate as a defender, as witnessed by his 17.1 points and 7.0 rebounds per game with the Spartans last season. He led MSU to the Big 10 regular season championship.

If Charlotte is looking to upgrade the offensive firepower at small forward without giving up a lot on defense, Bridges could be a good fit.

• Mikal Bridges, SF, Villanova


Bridges could be in the mix as well. The junior, who averaged 17.7 points and 5.3 rebounds last season, is a capable shooter from three-point range, nailing 43.5 percent beyond the arc for the national champion Wildcats. At 6-7, 210 pounds, Bridges doesn’t have the capability to create his own shots, but as a catch-and-shoot wing could be a good fit for instant offense.

"I'm not saying Mikal Bridges is Draymond Green or where you're taking a player that has been in school, is maybe a little bit older there where maybe the upside is not there," ESPN NBA front insider Bobby Marks said Monday in a conference call with media. "I think that's where you get in trouble a lot, when you start looking at an age, maybe an older player that you bypassed based on you know what he is instead of a Kevin Knox that maybe you think you do but are projecting out."

• Kevin Knox, SF, Kentucky


Here’s a player who could move further up the board come Thursday. Knox is only 18 and a sturdy 6-9, which suggests he has some growing to do, after averaging a team-best 15.6 points and 5.4 rebounds for the Wildcats as a freshman. Knox was not a lights-out shooter in his one collegiate season, but scouts believe he could be better than serviceable as a power forward who can step out as a perimeter threat.


• Collin Sexton, PG, Alabama


The Hornets need another point guard, given Walker’s unresolved future with the franchise and inconsistent production from last year’s backups. As a freshman, Sexton averaged 19.2 points, 3.8 rebounds and 3.6 assists for the Crimson Tide and showed a toughness that NBA coaches love. At 6-3, he’s bigger than Walker and has outstanding speed and quickness, so there’s some concern Sexton won’t last until the 11th pick. If he does, Charlotte has a decision to make.


"I don't have any questions about his body type," Marks said. "You know, maybe he doesn't weigh 200 pounds, but he's strong and he plays strong, and he's maybe the most competitive player in the draft in terms of being a willing defender. He doesn't shy away from contact. I mean, he got to the free-throw line over 10 times per 40 minutes, which kind of speaks to his aggressiveness and his yearning for physicality."

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