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Who are the Hornets likely to draft?

The Charlotte Hornets have the 13th overall pick in the 2023 NBA draft. With the draft just around the corner, there has been a lot of speculation about who the Hornets will select with their lottery pick. In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the players the Hornets are most likely to draft.

LaMelo Ball

One of the players most frequently projected to the Hornets is LaMelo Ball. Ball is a 6’7″ point guard who spent last season playing professionally in Australia’s NBL. He put up impressive numbers, averaging 17 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists per game. Ball is an elite passer with excellent court vision. He excels at running the pick and roll and can find open teammates all over the court. Ball’s outside shooting is streaky, but he has shown the ability to get hot from 3-point range. He is also an instinctive rebounder who uses his length well on the glass.

Ball has the size and playmaking ability to be a perfect fit next to Devonte’ Graham in the Hornets backcourt. The two point guards could share ball-handling duties, with Ball operating as the primary distributor. One concern with Ball is his shot selection and defense. He has a tendency to take bad shots early in the shot clock and can get lackadaisical on defense. However, Ball’s talent as a facilitator makes him an intriguing option for a Hornets team in need of a jolt of energy.

Anthony Edwards

The Hornets have also been linked to Georgia shooting guard Anthony Edwards. At 6’5″ 225 lbs, Edwards has an NBA-ready frame to go along with explosive athleticism. He averaged 19.1 points per game in his lone college season while shooting 40% from 3-point range. Edwards is supremely confident in his scoring ability and can fill it up from all three levels. He is dangerous in transition and a terror on the offensive glass. Edwards can also create his own shot in the halfcourt with crafty dribble moves to create separation.

Defense and shot selection are areas of concern with Edwards, but his physical tools give him significant two-way upside. Pairing Edwards with Devonte’ Graham and Terry Rozier would give the Hornets a young, dynamic backcourt trio. Edwards’ ability to put pressure on the rim and play above the rim would add an element the Hornets offense sorely lacks. His limitless confidence would also give the team someone willing to take big shots in crunch time.

James Wiseman

After focusing on guards with their last two lottery picks, the Hornets could look to address their frontcourt by selecting Memphis center James Wiseman. The 7’1″ center has tremendous physical tools and is oozing with potential. In the three college games Wiseman played before being ruled ineligible, he averaged 19.7 points, 10.7 rebounds and 3 blocks per game. Wiseman runs the floor extremely well for his size and can finish lob passes with force at the rim.

He remains raw on the offensive end, but his length makes him a dangerous lob threat and offensive rebounder. Defensively, Wiseman has the mobility and length to become an elite rim protector down the road. The Hornets need to add talent to their frontcourt, and Wiseman’s two-way upside makes him an intriguing option. There are questions about his motor and feel for the game, but under the tutelage of a coach like James Borrego, Wiseman could maximize his potential in Charlotte.

Obi Toppin

Obi Toppin emerged as one of college basketball’s biggest stars while leading Dayton to an impressive season. The 6’9″ forward averaged 20 points, 7.5 rebounds, 2.2 assists while shooting 63% from the field and 39% from 3-point range. Toppin took home Naismith Player of the Year honors for his efforts. He is an athletic big man who can run the floor and finish explosively at the rim. Toppin also showed improved ability to shoot from NBA 3-point range this past season.

He still needs to improve defensively, but his athleticism and motor suggest he can develop on that end of the floor. Toppin’s efficient inside-out scoring ability would provide a nice complement to PJ Washington in the frontcourt. The Hornets need to add talent at the forward spots, and Toppin’s ready-made scoring ability is appealing. While his upside may not be as high as some other lottery options, Toppin’s high floor makes him a relatively safe pick.

Killian Hayes

French point guard Killian Hayes has seen his draft stock rise after playing for ratiopharm Ulm in Germany. The lefty playmaker has great size for a lead guard at 6’5″ and excels at getting into the paint. Hayes is an excellent passer off the dribble and is adept at running the pick and roll. He’s also a crafty finisher at the rim using his length and touch to convert tough layups. Hayes has shown encouraging signs as a shooter too. He shot 39% from 3-point range this past season on limited attempts.

Hayes does need to cut down on his turnovers and improve his right hand, but the skills are there for him to be a productive NBA playmaker. The Hornets could select Hayes and have him split ball-handling duties with Devonte’ Graham. Hayes and Graham would form an intriguing dual point guard starting backcourt. Hayes’ youth and upside could make him the heir apparent to Graham as the team’s lead facilitator going forward.

Isaac Okoro

Auburn freshman Isaac Okoro could also draw consideration from the Hornets. At 6’6″ with a 6’9″ wingspan, Okoro has strong tools to develop into a lockdown perimeter defender. He has quick feet and uses his length well to disrupt passing lanes and contest shots. Offensively, Okoro is limited but efficient. He averaged 12.9 points while shooting 51% from the field and 29% from 3-point range.

Okoro makes smart cuts, finishes well at the rim, and doesn’t need the ball to make an impact. His jump shot needs significant development for him to reach his full potential. Still, Okoro’s defense and athleticism are tailor-made for today’s NBA game. The Hornets could use his energy and intensity on the wing. Developing a reliable jumper will determine just how good Okoro can become at the next level.

Deni Avdija

Israeli forward Deni Avdija has gained steam as a potential lottery pick after a strong season for Maccabi Tel Aviv. The versatile 6’9″ forward averaged 4 points, 2.6 rebounds while shooting 58% from the field in EuroLeague play. Avdija is an intelligent player who sees the floor well and makes quick decisions with the ball. He’s an excellent ball mover and has shown the ability to knock down outside shots.

The concerns with Avdija are around his lack of explosive athleticism. He’s not going to blow by defenders or finish above the rim. Avdija will need to compensate with craft and feel for the game. His shooting will also need to be more consistent for him to reach his potential. The Hornets could use more playmaking on the wing, and Avdija’s unselfish style could fit well alongside their young core.

Onyeka Okongwu

USC big man Onyeka Okongwu put up impressive numbers as a freshman, averaging 16.2 points, 8.6 rebounds and 2.7 blocks per game. He has a strong frame at 6’9″ 235 lbs paired with long arms and explosive leaping ability. Okongwu’s motor constantly runs hot, and he has quick feet to stay with guards on switches. Offensively, Okongwu was one of the nation’s most efficient players, converting 61.6% of his field goal attempts.

Most of his scoring comes right around the basket, but he has shown some ability to knock down mid-range shots too. Okongwu is a terror on the offensive glass and finishes emphatically at the rim. He still needs to develop more post moves and expand his shooting range. The Hornets could use an energy big like Okongwu off the bench. His athleticism and defensive upside make him an interesting option in the late lottery.

Cole Anthony

Cole Anthony entered his freshman season at North Carolina with high expectations as a five-star recruit. His lone college campaign was derailed a bit by injuries and a poor supporting cast, but Anthony still impressed scouts with his scoring punch. He averaged 18.5 points while shooting 38% from 3-point range and is capable of getting buckets at all three levels. Anthony excels at creating space with step-back and side-step jumpers.

The downside is that Anthony measured at just 6-feet tall at the NBA Combine, and he doesn’t make teammates better consistently. He’s more of a score-first lead guard than a pass-first facilitator. With Terry Rozier possibly leaving in free agency, Anthony could give the Hornets an infusion of bucket-getting ability in the backcourt. If his decision-making and playmaking improve, he has starter upside.

Devin Vassell

Devin Vassell’s draft stock has been on the rise after two strong seasons at Florida State. The 6’7″ wing has prototypical tools to fit the 3-and-D mold teams covet. Vassell shot 41.7% from 3-point range during his sophomore season while playing stingy defense. He has the length to guard multiple positions and moves his feet well staying in front of dribble penetration. Vassell is also an instinctive team defender who provides solid rim protection for his position.

Offensively, Vassell can knock down outside shots both in a catch-and-shoot role and off the dribble. He needs to improve his shot creation and ball-handling ability to become a primary scoring option, but his defense and shooting make him a safe bet to contribute right away. The Hornets need better wing defense, and Vassell would be an immediate upgrade in that regard.

Aaron Nesmith

Vanderbilt’s Aaron Nesmith only appeared in 14 games this past season due to a foot injury, but he was utterly dominant in that limited action. Nesmith averaged 23 points while converting over 52% of his 3-point attempts on 8.2 long range attempts per game. He moves well off the ball and has picture perfect shooting mechanics.

At 6’6″ with a 6’10” wingspan, Nesmith has strong tools to develop into a multi-positional defender too. He still needs to improve his shot creation abilities off the dribble to become more than a floor-spacer. The Hornets could use Nesmith’s sniper-like shooting ability to help space the floor for their talented young guards. If he refines his defensive technique, he could also add value on the wing defensively.

Patrick Williams

One potential sleeper lottery option for the Hornets is Florida State forward Patrick Williams. The 6’8″ forward mostly came off the bench for the Seminoles as a freshman but showed intriguing flashes of potential. Williams is a multi-positional defender capable of guarding guards, wings or bigs thanks to his 7-foot wingspan and solid mobility. He’s also a willing rebounder and energetic team defender.

Offensively, Williams was efficient in a limited role, scoring 9.2 points per game while shooting 83% from the free throw line and 32% from 3. Williams is unselfish and doesn’t need a lot of touches to make an impact. He would give the Hornets another versatile, energetic defender to throw at opposing wings. If his outside shooting develops more consistency, Williams’ 3-and-D skill set could allow him to carve out a starting role down the road.

Potential Hornets Targets

Based on their roster needs and projected draft range, here are the players most likely to be in the mix when the Hornets are on the clock:

Player Position Height Draft Range
LaMelo Ball PG 6’7″ Top 5
Anthony Edwards SG 6’5″ Top 5
James Wiseman C 7’1″ Top 5
Obi Toppin PF 6’9″ 5-10
Killian Hayes PG 6’5″ 5-10
Isaac Okoro SF 6’6″ 8-12
Deni Avdija SF 6’9″ 8-12
Onyeka Okongwu C 6’9″ 8-12
Cole Anthony PG 6’0″ 10-14
Devin Vassell SF 6’7″ 10-14


The Hornets find themselves in an enviable position heading into the draft. This is a player-rich draft, and Charlotte should have its choice of several talented prospects at #13. LaMelo Ball, Anthony Edwards and James Wiseman seem unlikely to fall out of the top 5, but the Hornets could have a shot at Obi Toppin, Killian Hayes or Isaac Okoro. Adding a dynamic scoring guard like Cole Anthony also can’t be ruled out.

Most mock drafts have pointed to Hayes or Okoro as the most logical options given their projected draft range and fit with the current roster. Both would address areas of need on the wing and backcourt. However, draft night always tends to produce some unexpected twists. The Hornets could explore trading up or down depending on which players slide. With a talented young core in place, this draft represents an opportunity for the Hornets to add another promising prospect as their rebuild continues.