The Charlotte Hornets are at a crossroads as a franchise. They have a major decision to make that could change their draft strategy with the 12th selection of the 2019 NBA Draft. The Hornets’ best player, Kemba Walker, is up for a supermax contract thanks to being selected to the All-NBA third team last week. Instead of a five-year $189.7 million deal, his max allows for a five-year and $221.3 million to be offered. The difficulty for the Hornets is free agency is slated to start after the NBA draft so a decision will have to be made prior to the draft on whether they will move forward with Walker, or move on from him.
Charlotte Hornets: 2019 NBA Draft Targets
Charlotte Hornets Keep Kemba Walker
Kemba Walker has been incredible for the Charlotte Hornets. The question they have to answer before the draft is if it is possible to win a title with Kemba Walker being the team’s highest-paid player?
Who should the Hornets target that would mesh well with Walker if they decide to keep him?
Romeo Langford – Indiana Hoosiers
Romeo Langford would be an excellent running mate for Walker in the Hornets backcourt. Langford has excellent size at 6’6” and 210lbs, to go with excellent length. The Hornets have lacked in the secondary scorer department for as long as Walker has been there.
While Langford struggles with his jump shot, his quick first step, and excellent size and body control allow him to get to the rim and finish in traffic. Langford also has the potential to be an excellent defender with his size and athleticism.
By drafting Langford, the Charlotte Hornets’ backcourt would be very fun to watch for years to come.
Keldon Johnson – Kentucky Wildcats
Keldon Johnson is another running mate for Kemba Walker. Johnson is a very athletic wing with excellent size. At 6’6” and 215lbs, Johnson’s first step is elite; giving defenders a lot of trouble staying in front of him. Johnson needs to improve on his body control around the rim which makes him an inconsistent finisher; especially in traffic.
Although Johnson shot 38% from 3PT at Kentucky, he is a reluctant shooter, making him an inconsistent threat from long-range. He needs to improve his confidence as a shooter because he has the ability. His athleticism and size give him excellent potential as a defender as well.
By retaining Walker, his elite passing and play-making skills could tremendously benefit a potential pick such as Keldon Johnson. Walker running the offense could allow for Johnson to unlock more of his offensive skills.
Jaxson Hayes – Texas Longhorns
The Charlotte Hornets have been a revolving door of ineptitude at the center position. They have spent high draft picks on a number of big men over the last few years, with uneven results. Cody Zeller and Frank Kaminsky were both first-round selections who have been hit or miss over the last few years. Jaxson Hayes offers a different type of big man for the Hornets.
Hayes has the potential to be the best defensive big man in the 2019 NBA Draft. With incredible size and length (standing 6’11” and sporting a wingspan of 7’4”), Hayes has excellent athleticism and is a fantastic rim-runner. He was an elite shot-blocker as he averaged 3.77 blocks per 40 minutes at Texas. Hayes will need to add some muscle, but he has the potential to be a very good player.
Charlotte Hornets Move On from Kemba Walker
If the Charlotte Hornets decide it’s time to move on from Kemba Walker, they need to move up in the draft to ensure they get either Darius Garland or Coby White. Garland and White are among the best point guards in this draft.
Darius Garland – Vanderbilt Commodores
Darius Garland is largely considered the best point guard in the 2019 NBA Draft. Although he only played in a hand full of games before an injury knocked him out of action, Garland has the size, quickness, and skills to be fantastic at the NBA level.
Garland is a fantastic shooter whether he is spotting up or using his elite ball handling to create a shot for himself. With a potential vacancy at the point guard position, Garland would have the opportunity to become the long-term face of the Charlotte Hornets franchise.
Coby White – North Carolina Tar Heels
Coby White is largely viewed as the second rated point guard in the 2019 NBA Draft class behind Garland. White has unlimited potential with his size, speed, and shooting potential. White and soon to be second-year forward Miles Bridges would be an excellent fit together. Bridges is an uber-athletic wing who thrives at a faster tempo. There isn’t a player in the 2019 NBA Draft class with more speed or one who played at a faster tempo than White did at North Carolina.
White is a bit inconsistent as a shooter but really improved as the season progressed and shot it well when shooting from NBA range. He likely is a slightly better fit with the Charlotte Hornets current roster than Garland is, and may have a higher ceiling also. Similar to Garland, the very same opportunity to be the face of the Charlotte Hornets exists for White.
Charlotte Hornets Future
The Charlotte Hornets front office has the biggest decision in franchise history. Kemba Walker is beloved by the Hornets fan base and is the best player in franchise history. But, if the front office determines they can’t win a title with Walker being the highest paid player on the roster, they have to move on.
Is it time to move on from the best player in franchise history?
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