The Charlotte Hornets have lost four straight games to the Raptors, Wizards, Bulls, and Nets. After starting the first seven games with a winning record (!!!), FiveThirtyEight gives the Hornets less than a one percent chance at making the playoffs with a predicted record of 22-60 (the second-worst mark across the league according to the predictor).
That officially means we’re in for the tank. In being a bad team, the Hornets have (hopefully) invested in their scouting department, despite the recent report by Sean Deveney that they are interested in acquiring All-Star center Andre Drummond.
Looking at some of the players that could be top-5 picks come June, there are many guys that come to mind. There are three players right now that seem to be in contention for the first overall pick. Even though the NBA seems to be higher on him than most media outlets, Memphis center James Wiseman still seems to lead the pack, despite being suspended for over ten games. North Carolina’s Cole Anthony and Georgia’s Anthony Edwards will likely be the other top players in this class come draft time.
Prospect A) Nico Mannion, Guard, Arizona
Photo Credit: Sports Illustrated
Nico Mannion is a creative, athletic point guard that can score at all three levels. He is a great player in transition and can initiate in the half-court as well. There’s room to get better from both a defensive and physical skill point.
Mannion is currently projected to be a top-10 pick and has the potential to be selected as high as the top-5 depending on how his season at Arizona goes. However, alongside fellow freshman Josh Green, he looks really good.
Stock: Between 5-10
Pro Comparison: Homeless man’s Kyrie Irving
Personal Rank: 5
Prospect B) Onyeka Onkongwu, Big, Southern California
Photo Credit: The Athletic
Onyeka Onkonwu is one of the more interesting prospects in this year’s draft. Originally not a top-10 recruit, Okongwu is a 6-foot-9 center that has elite defensive rim protection skills, can score inside with ease, and is a spectacular athlete.
On the flip side, Okongwu’s playmaking and passing need improvement if he wants to have a positive offensive impact at the next level. He hasn’t played against anyone major first at Chino Hills, and then in his short tenure at USC (so far, at least).
Okongwu’s free throw percentage would indicate he could end up becoming a decent shooter from beyond the three-point line.
Pro Comparison: Brandon Clarke with a higher ceiling
Personal Rank: 7
Prospect C) James Wiseman, Center, Memphis
Photo Credit: James Wiseman
Admittedly, I’m not very high on James Wiseman. But he’s good as a rim-running big. Wiseman is very mobile for a player of his frame (7-foot-1). Wiseman also has good footwork for his age. Wiseman has a well-developed offensive game and might be able to gain a consistent long-range jump-shot.
The reason I’m not high on Wiseman is that his skill set is largely replaceable. For someone of his talent, his shot-blocking has to improve. I personally wouldn’t select a player like Wiseman in the top-3, but I do understand the appeal behind what he brings to the table.
Pro Comparison: KAT but worse around the perimeter
Personal Rank: 8
Prospect D) Cole Anthony, Guard, North Carolina
Photo Credit: GoHeels
Cole Anthony is one of the most electric guards in college basketball. He is arguably a top-10 shooter in the ACC as it stands right now, and one of the best rebounding point guards in the past five years.
Anthony is an incredible athlete but can be iffy with his facilitation at times. He can dominate the ball a little bit too often, as well. Anthony is best as a point guard, but can also mesh well with other pass-first guards as well.
Pro Comparison: Damian Lillard with better rebounding
Personal Rank: 2
Prospect E) Anthony Edwards, Guard, Georgia
Photo Credit: WSBTV
Anthony Edwards is incredible at getting to the rim and has some of the best contact balance I’ve seen from a college basketball player. Edwards is a solid 6-foot-5 and looks to have filled a frame that would be capable of scoring at the rim at the NBA level.
Edwards could be better off-ball but is simply an incredible player both handling and defending the ball. He is an explosive athlete that almost no one can hang with.
Pro Comparison: Victor Oladipo with a better outside scoring game
Personal Rank: 1