Charlotte Hornets: Would Onyeka Okongwu be a smart pick at No. 3?

NBA Draft prospect Onyeka Okongwu (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
NBA Draft prospect Onyeka Okongwu (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images) /

Charlotte Hornets eyeing Onyeka Okongwu with the No. 3 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft?

Over the last 10 years, the Charlotte Hornets haven’t had great results in the NBA Draft. The only pick that has hit, really, is Kemba Walker who was selected by the team in 2011. PJ Washington has shown promise, but it’s too early to call a verdict on that selection.

According to a recent report from The Ringer, the Hornets covet a big man and could be eyeing Onyeka Okongwu, the versatile big man from USC.

While on the surface this may not be viewed as a surprise, the fact that the Hornets own the third overall pick could make it one. Even though Okongwu is considered a top 10 prospect in this draft and likely the second-best big on most draft boards, there is a scenario in which the Hornets would have to pass up on James Wiseman (considered almost a unanimous top 3 overall prospect) to get Okongwu.

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My biggest concern is the fact that this would be such a Hornets move. In recent history, we’ve seen this team make some curious selections. One of the most famous ones happened in 2015 when the Hornets selected Frank Kaminsky at No. 9 with Justise Winslow and Devin Booker still on the board (they’d go immediately after the Hornets selected Kaminsky, by the Miami Heat and Phoenix Suns respectively.

The good news is that I don’t think taking Okongwu at No. 3 would be a huge reach. If the Hornets truly believe that Okongwu would be a great fit on the roster, and he very well could be, he should be their selection.

As a prospect, there is plenty to like about Okongwu. Standing at 6-foot-9 with a 7-foot-1 wingspan, Okongwu has the size and length to be an effective frontcourt player in today’s ever-evolving NBA. While he’s still a work-in-progress on the offensive end, it’s his potential on the defensive side of the ball that should have many teams intrigued.

Okongwu averaged 16 points and nine rebounds per game on 62 percent shooting from the field during his freshman season at USC.

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If the Hornets truly believe that Okyeka Okongwu is their target, perhaps they could also entertain the thought of trading down a couple of places to add an asset while getting their guy. If they believe it’s too risky, maybe taking him at No. 3 is something they believe is the only – and best – option. Either way, Charlotte can’t miss on this golden opportunity with a top 3 pick, their highest draft selection since 2012 in which the Hornets selected Michael Kidd-Gilchrist with the second overall pick.