Hornets leave busy NBA draft with Williams, McGowens and other future assets

The Charlotte Hornets entered Thursday night’s 2022 NBA draft with three picks and a slew of different ways to use them. By the time all rounds and trades finally ended after midnight, they found themselves with two new players and a slew of future draft picks.

Shortly after taking center Memphis Jalen Duren with the 13e overall selection – who was later traded to New York in a three-team deal – the Hornets landed another big man at center in Duke Mark Williams, the reigning ACC Defensive Player of the Year . As part of the trade, Charlotte received Denver’s protected 2023 first-round pick and four future second-round picks.

Later that night, the team packed the 45e pick and one of those second rounds newly acquired Minnesota in exchange for the 40e selection, which was later used on Nebraska combo guard Bryce McGowens.

Starting part-time in his freshman year at Duke, Williams took a big leap forward in his sophomore season, finishing with averages of 11.2 points on 72.3% shooting, 7.4 rebounds and 2. 8 blocks ahead of ACC. He attempted just one 3-pointer in college, though he connected encouragingly on 72.7% of his attempts from the free-throw line last season, after shooting 53.7 % in 2020-21.

With Williams, the Hornets have the potential makings of a modern-day all-round NBA big man. Known primarily for his finishing and shot blocking, the 20-year-old excels at ground running and should provide the team’s already powerful offense with another immediate lob threat. At the NBA Draft Combine last month, Williams hit 7’2″, with a standing reach of 9’9″ and a wingspan of 7’6½”, which were all the highest marks of any measured prospect.

The Norfolk, Va. native moves quite well for his size and could eventually become more of a ground spacer on the offensive end, which would open up the team’s scoring opportunities even more. Defensively, don’t be surprised to see him eventually move to smaller players on the perimeter either, something the Hornets haven’t really seen from their central position before.

Williams played on arguably the most talent-rich varsity team last season – Duke had four players selected in the first round on Thursday night, including first overall pick Paolo Banchero – so he’s used to working alongside great players. He won’t be a major offensive focal point to begin with, but could quickly carve out a needed role thanks to his rebound and rim protection.

As for McGowens, it will be another homecoming for the Pendleton, SC native, who grew up just over two hours from Charlotte. A five-star recruit in high school, he chose to enroll at a nontraditional powerhouse in Nebraska, where he was teammates with his older brother, Trey, and played under former Chicago Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg.

McGowens finished his lone season at Lincoln as the Big Ten’s ninth leading scorer with 16.8 points per game, while also averaging 5.2 rebounds and 1.4 assists in 31 starts. Although he shot just 40.3% from the field, 47.8% from two and 27.4% from behind the arc, it’s likely he received an overabundance of defensive attention given the lack of true elite talent surrounding him in Nebraska.

Like Williams, McGowens also led a pre-draft practice in Charlotte. At the NBA Draft Combine, McGowens was 6’6 ½” tall with a 6’8 ¾” wingspan, which on paper means he likely projects as a shooter or small forward in the pro ranks. Needing more size and strength at just 181 pounds right now, McGowens has plenty of time to get the extra seasoning he will need, especially at just 19 years old.

Williams should immediately compete for frontcourt rotation minutes, while McGowens will likely need a lot more development time and could spend much of his rookie season in the G League. Fans won’t have to wait too long to get their first glimpses of the pair in purple and teal, with both set to prepare for the NBA Summer League in a few weeks.

Aside from the two players arriving in Charlotte, much of the post-draft talk inevitably revolved around the decision the Hornets made with that 13e global selection. On the surface, the trade allows the Hornets to claw back a first-rounder next year, with theirs potentially going to Atlanta if it falls out of the lottery. The three second rounds are also an additional asset currency that can be used to facilitate all kinds of transactions down the line.

Ultimately though, after how little James Bouknight, Kai Jones and JT Thor played at the NBA level as rookies last season, it’s just not realistic to jump into the playoffs with that many. relatively inexperienced young players on the roster. Developmental resources are limited, and the Hornets don’t have the luxury of allocating as many as they would have needed had they kept those two top-15 selections.

Additionally, many of those Draft Day decisions are being made while keeping a watchful eye on free agency, which begins next Thursday. Miles Bridges, Cody Martin, Montrezl Harrell and Isaiah Thomas are all on expiring deals and who and how the Hornets plan to return to the roster plays a big role when it comes to handling the NBA draft. Now that one chapter of the offseason is officially closed, a few more will soon open for the Charlotte Hornets, which includes the aforementioned free agency period, the possible hiring of a new head coach, and then the NBA Summer League at Vegas. Now is the time to buckle up because the excitement and fun of the next few weeks has only just begun in Buzz City.

About Myra R.

Check Also

Drew Brees thinks he can be a top broadcaster despite NBC exit

NBC’s faith in Drew Brees is said to have disappeared after his disappointing performance calling …