What the Hornets need to do with their 1st round picks

With the draft quickly approaching, the Charlotte Hornets have their work cut out for them. Yes, they have to figure out which two young pieces they will add to their team, but they also have to figure out who their coach will be & what they will do to secure Miles Bridges. One step at a time though, right? There are a lot of interesting prospects in the 2022 NBA Draft class. There are a lot of different moves they could make with those picks, but here are the ones that make the most sense.

Trade the 13th & 15th pick along with Gordon Hayward

This might need to be option number one. The Hornets have a few interesting young pieces on roster already. Obviously, they have their All-Star point guard in LaMelo Ball, but there is James Bouknight, PJ Washington, Kai Jones, and a couple other guys. Plus, if they are able to swing a trade to get Gordon Hayward’s money off the books, they can retain Miles Bridges with a big-time contract, Hayward has been a good player for the Hornets when he is healthy, but he’s missed way too much time to still be left on the roster at this point. In the 2021-22 season, he missed 26 of the last 27 games.

Even with the young players that would be available to add in the draft, the Hornets might be able to land a veteran player or players that can help out immediately. Getting rookie guys on your team can help set up a brighter future, but there isn’t a guarantee that they will help the Hornets jump into playoff contention. It may be best to find a capable veteran player that can help this team ascend in the tough Eastern Conference.

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Draft a wing player & a center

If they really can’t find a trade partner for Hayward and the picks, Mitch Kupchak should focus on filling out the rest of the roster with the best young pieces available. Since they have picks just at the end of the lottery, their should still be some solid prospects that can help build out the rest of the young core. Two perfect guys could be Jalen Duren & Ochai Agbaji, if available of course. Duren looks like a guy that can guard multiple positions in spurts of a game. The potential is there for him to be an elite defender and a solid rim runner for easy lobs on offense.

Agbaji offers some pretty interesting two-way potential. Four-year players from college usually end up playing a significant amount of minutes, so he could come in and play right away. If Miles Bridges isn’t retained, Agbaji would probably end up playing a lot at the small forward spot behind Hayward.

There is no telling if those two guys will be available on draft night, but they will give the Hornets the most bang for their buck. LaMelo Ball is the head of the snake for this squad. Management’s goal should always be to build around their star and figure out what will be the best move to help him out. If the Hornets can figure out how to move Hayward & keep their picks, that would be awesome.

It’s not like Gordon Hayward is a bad player. He definitely makes the Hornets a better team when he gets a few games to get his legs under him. He was a 20 points per game scorer at one point for Charlotte. An argument could be made that if Hayward doesn’t get hurt the past couple of seasons, the Hornets may have had a shot to make it into the playoffs. Hayward’s impact has been felt when he’s been healthy and able to play. A smaller role on a championship team might be what’s best for Hayward at this point in his career.

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As mentioned earlier though, the Hornets have a lot of work to do in this offseason. The Hayward trade potentially, Bridges contract extension, and finding a head coach that will be able to maximize his resources. Since it does start with the draft, the Hornets can’t afford to screw up this process. The end goal for this team should be to make the postseason at the end of the 2022-23 season. Those moves above can help them get there and get these young guys on roster already to develop into a bigger role to fill Hayward’s shoes. He is too old for this roster at this point and makes far too much money to take shots away from the young guns.

It is time for a new regime in Buzz City to finally get them into the postseason for the first time since 2016.

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