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LB NBA Mock Draft: Charlotte Hornets Select Kristaps Porzingis with the 9th Pick

"No, you're the looks, I'm the brains, and Kristaps is the wildcard."

Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

As the days and weeks count down until NBA draft, it's impossible to avoid the oversaturation of draft-related chatter. Even before you're finished with the appetizer, you're served a 3rd and 4th helping of draft coverage. In that time a prospect's stock somehow rises and falls, despite not having played for months.

And then, there are the wildcards. They are prospects that foster the most doubt but peak the most interest. Typically, they come internationally due to the lack of coverage/tape outside the handful of YouTube clips/highlights that we've all seen a hundred times. This combination of cursory knowledge and the unknown (if and when they'll come over, for example) deem these types of prospects "high risk".

Of course, not all organizations are alike, so risks may weigh differently. Nonetheless, when a prospect could go as high as the top 3 to as low as a fringe lottery, they can shape how the whole draft could unfold. And when you're picking 9th, that's something you have to watch for.

The Charlotte Hornets came off a disappointing season after making the playoffs the year before. A perfect storm of various problems has landed the team back in the lottery and Kemba WalkerAl Jefferson and Co. need help. I lit the beacons in hopes that someone at our sister blog At The Hive could give me some idea on how the Hornets operated and their team needs. Gondor Frank Berndt answered!

The national media are right that the team needs to add shooting this offseason. However, players like Troy Daniels and P.J. Hairston who have proven 3-point shooting track records in the NBA D-League struggled for minutes under coach Steve Clifford. With Al Jefferson on the floor, the team needs strong wing defenders to help mitigate the lack of rim protection down low. Whoever the Hornets select with the ninth pick should be someone they view as a potentially complete player, not just a specialist.

Ideally, Stanley Johnson would be the choice. However, with him off the board and the lack of the ability to trade down in this exercise, my options are to either play safe and believe in the upside of Kelly Oubre or Devin Booker to fill a "need" or take who I feel is the best player available. I chose the latter. Of course, behind Door #2 is the wildcard of this draft.

Enter Kristaps Porzingis.

In a league that's becoming more geared towards stretch-4's, Porzingis may be the perfect guy to fit next to your center. His offensive versatility is one of his biggest strengths with his ability to play effectively from the perimeter to above the rim. Specifically, his high release and silky-smooth shooting stroke has created some comparisons to Dirk Nowitzki (Sidenote: I dislike player comparisons). His versatility also translates defensively, as his length and mobility allows him to both navigate pick and rolls and switch onto smaller players if necessary.

There are some reasons for trepidation, however. He's a slight guy that could/will potentially be pushed around in the NBA. And while bulking up and growing into his body can help, he has to avoid his instincts by absorbing and fighting through contact instead of avoiding it outright. Thankfully, Kristaps is only 19 years old, with time to grow both physically and mentally.

Despite some quality players, the Hornets are in a strange limbo that feels closer to mediocrity than playoff and championship contention. I'm sure Michael Jordan and Rich Cho would disagree with my selection, especially since I've conveniently ignored Cody Zeller's and Noah Vonleh's existences on the roster. However, that's no excuse for playing it safe, in my books. Bank on potential and take the risk; Go big or go home.

Don't be scared to take Pringles (best autocorrect nickname ever), BPA is a welcome strategy in mock drafts for most real Hornets fans

Thanks for the back up Frank!

Next on the clock is GM Marc picking for what should have been the Sixers the Heat.

  1. Minnesota Timberwolves - Karl-Anthony Towns
  2. Los Angeles Lakers - Jahlil Okafor
  3. Philadelphia 76ers - D'Angelo Russell
  4. New York Knicks - Emmanuel Mudiay
  5. Orlando Magic - Mario Hezonja
  6. Sacramento Kings - Justise Winslow
  7. Denver Nuggets - Willie Cauley-Stein
  8. Detroit Pistons - Stanley Johnson
  9. Charlotte Hornets - Kristaps Porzingis
  10. Miami Heat - ???

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