It’s now down to days, not weeks.
With the NBA Finals complete and the Denver Nuggets crowned as the newest recipients of the Larry O’Brien Trophy, all of the league’s collective focus shifts to the next major event on the calendar: next Thursday’s draft. Victor Wembanyama is a lock to be selected first overall, meaning the night’s intrigue doesn’t begin until the Charlotte Hornets are on the clock.
Will it be Scoot Henderson or Brandon Miller?
We’re now inside one week until NBA commissioner Adam Silver hits the stage at the Barclays Center in New York, and the draft chatter is heating up. How could it shape up? Here is our second Hornets-only first-round mock draft:
No. 2 pick
▪ Name: Scoot Henderson
▪ Position: PG
▪ Team: G League Ignite
Put on a pair of scuba goggles, dip your head into the lower depths of Lake Norman and scan around 360 degrees. That’s how murky things have been when it comes to the pundits trying to figure out precisely who the Hornets will select.
The majority of the early predictions from national media forecasting what the Hornets will do once they are officially on the clock are pointed directly at one person. No, it’s not the guy who’s listed above.
Brandon Miller in Charlotte instead of Henderson. And that only flipped once the lottery results were revealed.
Miller and Henderson each had private workouts with the Hornets in a span of 48 hours earlier this week, the latest steps for Charlotte as it pours over the pre-draft information. Neither session was open to the media, so it’s unclear how Henderson and Miller fared while making their respective cases to go after Wembanyama.
In the past few days, reports have surfaced about certain teams vying for an opportunity to leap up the draft board for the opportunity to select Henderson.
If that is indeed the case, it only makes even more sense for the Hornets to grab the 19-year old.
Henderson has already generated a big buzz among fan bases in Charlotte and Portland, and the reports about New Orleans possibly offering up one of its stars — names that include former Duke star and native Carolinian Zion Williamson — to jump into position and possibly draft Henderson should further tip the scales in his favor.
Miller could turn out to be a very good player. But Henderson’s presence has the ability to re-energize a franchise in need of more premium talent to put an end to a playoff drought that will be creeping up on a decade if the Hornets can’t end it in 2023-24.
Considering Henderson’s seemingly skyrocketing value, paired with the other factors (ie: potentially overcrowding the wing position), we’re still going with Henderson as the choice.
No. 27 pick
▪ Name: Sidy Cissoko
▪ Position: CG
▪ Team: G League Ignite
Wouldn’t it be something if Cissoko wound up as Henderson’s teammate again?
“I hope someone is going to draft me and him, yeah,” Sissoko said when asked about the possibility.
Sure, it’s a long shot but with the Hornets holding several draft picks and a roster that has plenty of young twentysomethings, Charlotte has the luxury of selecting a player in this spot that can be groomed and eventually slotted firmly into the rotation in a year or two. Cissoko falls into that category.
He appeared in 43 games for the Ignite this past season, starting in 12, and averaged 11.6 points, 3.1 assists, 2.8 rebounds and a block per game. Eight times, he netted at least 20 points. He has a variety of ways to affect the game and credits the Ignite’s environment for helping his transition after coming over from France.
“You always have to be ready,” Cissoko said, “because you are playing against NBA vets, always. It was good. We had an NBA staff, we had NBA vets on our team. It was good work for me. Overseas, the work ethic is not the same as in the states. Here, the work is at 6:30, 7 and finish at 3 p.m. So, that’s good.”