Blue Route is bringing you draft coverage leading up to the NBA draft on June 20th, 2019. The Philadelphia 76ers are slated to select 24th pick in the draft. The NBA draft often sees movement, trades and drama, so to prepare you for various potential outcomes, the Blue Route will be giving you draft profiles for the all of the likely top picks, as well as our very own mock draft.

  1. New Orleans Pelicans – Zion Williamson
  2. Memphis Grizzlies – Ja Morant
  3. New York Knicks – RJ Barrett
  4. Los Angeles Lakers – Jarrett Culver
  5. Cleveland Cavaliers – DeAndre Hunter
  6. Phoenix Suns – Coby White
  7. Chicago Bulls – Cam Reddish
  8. Atlanta Hawks – Sekou Doumbouya
  9. Washington Wizards – Bol Bol
  10. Atlanta Hawks – Jaxson Hayes
  11. Minnesota Timberwolves – Nickeil Alexander-Walker

Current State of the Charlotte Hornets

When one says “Charlotte Hornets,” the first word that comes to mind is treadmill. Since 2004, the Hornets haven’t won a single playoff series. They’ve had three first round matchups, with two of those being 4 game sweeps. Over the last five years, the Hornets have had an average of 38 wins per season. Michael Jordan continues to be a terrible owner. Since buying a minority share of the Hornets in 2006, the Hornets have had 11 lottery picks and only Kemba Walker to show for it.

Despite the Charlotte Hornets minorly improving in 2018/19, finishing with a 39-43 record, there was a slight youth movement. Miles Bridges started the last 25 games and showed some promise. He averaged 9 points per game in that stretch and certainly turned some heads. However, just as great as he was at finishing lobs, Bridges looked lost finding his role on the Hornets for most of the season.

Similar to Bridges, Dwayne Bacon started 13 of the last 25 games and helped the Hornets’ late playoff push. He was inserted into the starting lineup on March 8th and never gave it up. Dwayne Bacon is further evidence of the strength of the NBA’s G League. Bacon was a standout for the Greensboro Swarm where he developed his game and finished averaging over 22 points per game.  Bacon showed flashes of being a legit, two way player and is a true member of the Hornets’ core moving forward.

Malik Monk continued to be disappointment. He’s just not a positive impact on the court. There are very few good things to say regarding Monk’s development. He’s had the same stats and continues to struggle making the same mistakes as a rookie. Hornets fans are hoping that if Kemba Walker leaves, it will lead to a better picture of what Monk can bring moving forward.

Overall, there is light at the end of the tunnel for the Hornets compared to seasons past. The way Miles Bridges, Dwayne Bacon, and Devonte Graham finished the season will surely give Hornets fans a sliver of hope.

Looking Ahead into 2019 Free Agency

Kemba Walker had some truly incredible moments for the Charlotte Hornets this season. Kemba enters the offseason as an unrestricted free agent. According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, re-signing Kemba Walker is priority #1 for the Charlotte Hornets this summer. Charlotte has the lead in signing Kemba Walker because they are able to offer him a 5 year supermax contract worth 221 million dollars. It is currently rumored that the Dallas Mavericks are the threat to steal Kemba away from the Queen City.

Other than Kemba Walker, Jeremy Lamb and Frank Kaminsky are unrestricted free agents. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Marvin Williams have player options for 2019. There are way too many bloated contracts on the Hornets. Nicolas Batum is owed $25.5 million, Cody Zeller $14.5 million and Bismack Biyombo is owed $17 million. Luckily, the Biyombo, Kidd-Gilchrist, and Williams contracts come off the books after next season.

There is nothing worse in sports than being mediocre, and the Hornets are stuck. If you re-sign Kemba Walker and run it back, then you’re in salary cap hell. If you let Kemba walk, Miles Bridges, Dwayne Bacon, and Malik Monk have yet to show you they are nothing more than low end starters in the NBA. Some very difficult decisions are going to be made in Charlotte in the very near future.

The Selection – Darius Garland

The Charlotte Hornets are stunned that Darius Garland fell to the 12th pick and went with best player available. With Kemba Walker potentially leaving, the Hornets get a guy that can be groomed with the ball in his hands. The speedy point guard is an offensive weapon, has one of the highest ceilings in the entire draft, and gives the Hornets a point guard of the future. Unfortunately, Darius Garland tore his left meniscus in late November so there is a bit of an unknown about him as a prospect.

Rookie Prediction

Make no mistake, Darius Garland is a very skilled offensive basketball player. Similar to De’Aaron Fox coming into the NBA with the Sacramento Kings, Darius Garland’s speed and shiftiness should fit in very well in a league that’s all about pace, pace, and more pace. In a weird way, Kemba Walker’s departure could reap benefits for a player like Darius Garland. Garland would benefit from a team that allows Garland to play through his mistakes.

In terms of projecting Garland’s rookie impact, everything rides on what happens with Kemba Walker here. If Kemba stays, then Garland’s role will be reduced to backup point guard and secondary ball handler. If Kemba leaves, then there is a solid chance that Darius Garland could put up some very interesting statistics. Regardless, I think it’s going to be a long year of learning the ropes of the NBA for Darius Garland.