200820_devonte_mitch_transcript

Hornets Post-2020 NBA Lottery Availabilities

Hornets General Manager and President of Basketball Operations Mitch Kupchak and point guard Devonte' Graham spoke to the media after Charlotte moved from eighth to third in the 2020 NBA Draft Lottery.

MITCH KUPCHAK – HORNETS GENERAL MANAGER & PRESIDENT OF BASKETBALL OPERATIONS 

On any superstitions ahead of the lottery: 

“Unfortunately, I have been doing several of these kind of things for the last five or six years, and I am superstitious. I was when I was a player, my routine so I’m not overly superstitious. When I got to represent the team, I do normally bring something with me. But this was on Devonte’ this time and you brought us good luck. I don’t know what Devonte’ did, he said it was waking up feeling good and that’s fine with me.” 

On what moving up in the lottery means for the team: 

“The one thing that we didn’t want to do was move back, right. My understanding when I looked at it was, we had a 61% chance of good stuff happening and a 39% chance of bad stuff happening. The goods stuff was staying at number eight or moving up. And then I saw where number eight was turned over and it wasn’t the Hornets. I think before that when Washington was there at number nine then I knew we were no worse off. And I did feel comfortable that even at eight we were going to get a good player. So when they played our number, our card and I didn’t see the Hornets. You know at that point something really really good is happening. It was exciting, I’ll be honest with you, it was exciting.” 

On the top prospects in this draft class: 

“I haven’t changed. If you look at the mocks and the tv broadcast tonight, it looked like people had already decided who the top three picks are and clearly they are all good players. We haven’t had a chance and we probably wont have a chance to bring any of the players in. Other than a Zoom interview so that will be helpful to some degree. It’s a good thing, a top three pick is a good thing. It presents us with a lot of options. With a small market team, I think I have been pretty consistent the last two years that we have to look to improve this team through the draft or via trades. And free agency is always going to be an option, free agency is not our primary matter in which we plan to go by improving the team. So just getting a pick and first of all not moving back and getting a pick moved up to number three. It is going to provide us with a lot of options.” 

On trade activity surrounding the draft: 

“Yeah I think there will be, once again watching the broadcast Woj was on there talking about how Golden State indicated to him at some point in time I don’t know when that they would look to do something perhaps with their pick. They’re going to have options, I know they wanted number one but with number two they are going to be able to get a great player. They can I’m sure look to improve a veteran team by moving the pick. They are looking at it a little bit differently then we are. Getting that pick without having a lot of time to think it through, will present us with possibilities beyond just drafting a player.” 

On the opportunity the third pick provides: 

“With the third pick we are going to have to pick the right player, there is no guarantee that just because you got a top three pick that there are three franchise altering players out there and that we know who the three are. I have complete confidence that we’re going to get the right player but you just never know in this business. You just don’t know.” 

On how different this year’s draft preparation has been: 

“Well it’s been a dramatic change, we haven’t seen any players live since March 11. I believe that is the date I was in Indianapolis for the first round of the Big 10. I got to see a couple of players that I wanted to see before the evening ended and then of course by the end of the evening not only was the NBA canceled but basically the rest of college basketball was canceled. So we haven’t seen anybody live since then. We’ve been doing a lot of film work, a lot of interviewing with our scouts. We haven’t not interviewed any of the top five or six players, projected. I think there agents wanted to see who got the picks before they started setting up Zoom interviews. We did get to see most of the college season, we didn’t see the conference tournaments in their entirety of course we didn’t get to see the NCAA tournament because it wasn’t played. We did get to Europe, we did get to Australia so we covered our basis fortunately we did some of that early. Of course we didn’t know the season would be canceled and players wouldn’t get hurt or leave Europe or Australia and not be around to watch later on, on the season. We got lucky we did our work early.” 

On the most significant information leading into the draft: 

“Well other than the Zoom calls with the top five or six that’s significant, that other information that you talked about we will be able to get it at a later date. I am hopeful that’s what happens but the NBA is working very hard on that and I feel that information will come our way. The medicals very important, measurements and stuff like that also very important.” 

On scouting draft prospects: 

“You know, you have to get the information, you got to hope the information is accurate. Then you have to make the right pick. Just because you have all of the information, especially in this day and age when a player that 25 years ago would have been a low post center, who is a big. You know, today they aren’t important in our game anymore. So you have to look at the game and the way it’s played today and project how the game may be played five our seven years from now. That’s a factor also. You know getting the information certainty provides us with an advantage.” 

On how getting a top three player this year will help change the direction of the team: 

“It’s an incredible stroke of luck. You know, it’s beyond our control, and our scouts have done a great job getting players in the second round. Obviously, the guy that represented us today at the lottery (Devonte’ Graham) was a second round pick. So we know we think we’ll be able to do that this year. We have the 32nd pick, and just recently the other pick in the second round was solidified with 56. So, we always think we’re going to get a player. But with the top three pick, most times you can get a special player. Somebody that I think you would say is going to be a starter in the league, even on a good team. So that would be our hope that we get one of those players.” 

On how much better this feels after not being able to play in the NBA restart: 

“Being left out of the 22 was a terrible blow for us. It’s almost been six months wince we’ve had our players conduct practice. For a young team that was coming on before the season was shut down, it’s just a terrible blow. It can really set us back almost a year. Now, we’ve got some luck now. Looks like we’re going to have the ability to bring the young players back to work out for about three weeks hopefully in September. That’s something that’s very very positive. I can’t imaging if that didn’t happen and with the commissioner tonight indicating that the season might even be moved back further – you’re talking maybe a year before you get to work with those young players. Getting those two or three weeks in September could be helpful and getting the pick – we’ve stepped into some luck here in the last couple days. For this franchise, I think it’s a huge step forward. Once again, it’s the way the cards fall. We didn’t do anything other than lose games to get to number eight, but it was luck. Maybe it was just our time to get lucky.” 

On how tough the draft process becomes with the current pandemic: 

“We would love to be able to bring them into Charlotte like we were able to do in all years past. In fact, we could bring guys back twice. That’s not going to happen (this year). That’s a big part of the process. Sometimes, you scout a player all year, and you bring him back to work him out individually in the spring and it doesn’t help you make a decision. Sometimes, you look at the last time you saw somebody and you say, “Oh that’s who the player is.” When in reality, you probably scouted the guy like 25 times during the season, and that should carry more weight. It should. Sometimes it works the other way. Once again, we feel even though the season was shut down, and we’re not going to have Chicago pre-draft and PIT, we’re not going to be able to bring players in, we did get to see everybody – especially the players internationally. Of course, we’ve seen all the domestic players. Larry Jordan does a great job organizing our scouts making sure everybody gets seen. And that we don’t just have one player be seen by one scout, but by multiple scouts. So we’ve got a lot of information. You always wish you had a little bit more, but we know the players.” 

On what position he would most like to address in this draft: 

“I think I’ve been pretty consistent with what we need. I don’t think our team is at the stage of development where we could say, “Hey, we need a big or we need a guard or we need a wing,” and we pass on maybe better talent to fill a position. We are not at stage right now. We need to add talent to this team no matter at what position he is. If we have duplication, then great, we’ll figure it out. We’ll do what we have to do. We felt at confident at No. 8 we would get a talented player, but more often than not, at No. 3 you get a different talented player. Maybe someone like I mentioned earlier where you can look at and not only be in this league for 10-12 years, but be a starter in this league. So we’ve got a lot of work to do. It’s not a guarantee. We’ll do the best we can. Hopefully, we pick the right player.” 

DEVONTE’ GRAHAM – HORNETS GUARD 

On his routine today for luck: 

“I didn’t eat anything specific, I told them earlier that I wasn’t really superstitious…I did wake up in a good mood though, I woke up in a great mood, body was feeling good. I had a good day and I brought my lucky items with me… my dog’s dog tag and my Kobe Bryant face mask, so I think that did the trick for us.” 

On a number 3 pick potentially taking this young group to the next level: 

“I think it’s huge, I know everybody’s excited… it’s the first time we’ve had this high of a pick in a minute. I know the fans are excited, I know the organization and Mitch and them have to make some decisions. So hopefully we get something good out of it and it helps boost us to that next level.” 

On his nerves: 

“I was definitely a little nervous once it got to 8 and I had seen that we bumped up, I got excited… and once we got in the top 4 I was even more excited so, I was just more anxious to hear when our name was going to be called.” 

On what this pick could mean: 

“Yeah, we need a couple more pieces and I think this is definitely a step forward in getting that and trying to find, whoever we draft, getting them to fit our style of play and I’m pretty sure whoever it is will come in and be willing to play our style because it’s fun, it’s fast, we’re young and we’ve got a good group of guys and coaching staff… so yeah I’m pretty sure whoever we get, it will be exciting.” 

On team workouts in late September: 

“We haven’t been used to being in a bubble so that will have to take a little but of adjustment not being able to go anywhere. But I just think being able to play with each other, like we haven’t been able to play, work out or anything together… not all at the same time. So it will definitely be good for us.” 

On any advice to draft prospects: 

“I feel like they’ve probably been doing the Skype interviews and things like that which is different but I always tell guys, “Just be you”… don’t try to do anything you don’t normally do or act any kind of way you don’t normally act. Because more than likely the organization and everybody already knows 

everything about you, so come in and play your game… listen first and ask questions and little things like that to learn faster and mature faster. 

On team workouts in September: 

“I think the biggest thing is being together, being around each other and seeing each other. Getting some competitive one-on-ones, two-on-twos, five-one-fives… whatever they allow us to do… not being around each other for the last 5-6 months hasn’t been helpful so definitely that’d just be the main thing.”

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