Potential Draft Options for Hornets: Second-Round Forwards/Centers
Matt Rochinski and Sam Perley of hornets.com will be following the Hornets throughout the 2017 NBA offseason and keeping fans up to date through the Buzz Words | Hornets Notebook. Keep checking back to see what the latest is as the season unfolds.
By Sam Perley, hornets.com | Thursday, June 8, 10:01 a.m.
Despite the NBA’s recent emphasis on floor spacing, run-and-shoot offenses and small-ball lineups, versatile big men are still very much a valued and imperative commodity for almost any team in the league. The introduction of two-way contracts (a new stipulation that will allow organizations to carry a pair of extra players on their roster next season) has made nailing draft choices in the second round and beyond perhaps a bit more achievable. As of now, the Charlotte Hornets currently hold the 41st overall pick in the upcoming NBA Draft and could be looking at a great pool of forwards and centers if that’s a route they choose to explore when the time comes.
Edrice ‘Bam’ Adebayo (C, Kentucky) – A physically imposing 6’10” force with a 7’2 ¾” wingspan, Edrice ‘Bam’ Adebayo racked up averages of 13.0 points on 59.9 percent shooting, 8.0 rebounds and 1.5 blocks in 38 games during his lone season on a one-and-done-laden Kentucky Wildcats roster this past year.
A great low-post scorer, rebounder and shot-blocker, Adebayo also comes with high-level athleticism and physicality. The North Carolina native will need to expand his offensive and defensive game in the NBA, although already possesses enough of a skill set to be an impact player early on at the next level.
Jordan Bell (PF, Oregon) – Jordan Bell was a major reason the Oregon Ducks returned to the Final Four for the first time since 1939 this past season after he averaged 10.9 points on 63.9 percent shooting, 8.8 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.3 steals and 2.2 blocks during his junior year in Eugene.
Thanks to his size (6’8 ½” with a 6’11 ¾” wingspan), Bell’s biggest strengths are undoubtedly his rebounding, shot-blocking and defending capabilities. He’ll need to improve upon his offensive game and physicality a bit, but the defensive tools Bell brings to the table could land him in a NBA rotation early on in his career.
Mathias Lessort (PF/C, Nanterre 92/France) – A 21-year-old native of Martinique, Mathias Lessort averaged 10.2 points on 57.4 percent shooting, 7.2 rebounds and 1.0 block over 34 games while playing for 2017 French Basketball Cup Champion Nanterre 92 in France’s LNB Pro A League this past season.
Lessort’s ability to rebound, block shots and guard multiple positions could make him a coveted defensive talent in the upcoming NBA Draft. There will be a learning curve transitioning to the NBA and he might spend another year or two overseas, but the athletic Frenchman definitely has the potential to thrive in the league whenever he does indeed make the jump.
Thomas Bryant (C, Indiana) – Despite the possibility of being a one-and-done player after his freshman campaign, Thomas Bryant returned for his sophomore season at Indiana and tallied averages of 12.6 points on 51.9 percent shooting, 6.6 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.5 blocks in 34 games for the Hoosiers this past year.
Measuring 6’10 ¾” with a gigantic 7’6” wingspan at the NBA Draft Combine, Bryant has desirable size and length to go along with great offensive finishing and low-post abilities. Bryant is also a decent rebounder and shot-blocker with improved three-point abilities who will probably need to continue working on his overall consistency and development upon reaching the NBA.
Johnathan Motley (PF/C, Baylor) – Johnathan Motley exploded his junior year at Baylor with averages of 17.3 points on 52.2 percent shooting, 9.9 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.1 blocks in 34 appearances, helping lead the Bears to their first Sweet 16 appearance in the NCAA Tournament since 2014.
A highly-energetic, explosive athlete, Motley is a strong finisher around the basket with emerging rebounding, shot-blocking and guarding abilities. He’ll need to make some strides with his jump-shooting and consistency, but Motley’s overall physical gifts and skill set will be desired by a number of teams in the upcoming NBA Draft.
Semi Ojeleye (SF/PF, SMU) – After sitting out the 2015-16 season following his transfer from Duke, Ojeleye turned heads his redshirt junior year at SMU with averages of 18.9 points on 48.8 percent shooting, 6.8 rebounds and 1.5 assists in 35 games on his way to claiming 2017 AAC Player of the Year honors.
Ojeleye is a great finisher around the basket with the ability to score from a number of different areas on the court. While the athleticism and motor are there, the 6’6 ¾” Ojeleye doesn’t have a defined NBA position yet and will also need to commit himself more to rebounding and defense at the next level.
Alec Peters (PF, Valparaiso) – Although a leg injury ended his senior season at Valparaiso prematurely, Alec Peters’ averages of 23.0 points on 46.6 percent shooting, 10.1 rebounds and 2.2 assists in 29 games this past year have him firmly in the second-round conversation for the upcoming NBA Draft.
Peters is a fantastic all-around shooter, particularly from the free-throw line where he ranked third in the nation in conversion rate this season (88.7 percent; minimum 150 attempts). The 2017 Horizon League Player of the Year has a tantalizing combination of size, skill and feel for the game, although isn’t a super-great athlete and needs to improve upon his overall defending abilities.
Caleb Swanigan (PF/C, Purdue) – Sophomore Caleb Swanigan exploded for averages of 18.5 points on 52.7 percent shooting, 12.5 rebounds and 3.0 assists in 35 appearances this past season on his way to becoming Purdue’s first Big 10 Conference Player of the Year since the 2010-11 campaign.
Swanigan is a huge, physical force in the paint with high-level scoring and rebounding capabilities. The big man also shot a surprising 44.7 percent from three-point range this season (38-of-85) and could become a legitimate, all-around NBA threat despite some current limitations in terms of athleticism, explosiveness and defense.
Tony Bradley (C, North Carolina) – The first one-and-done player at North Carolina in a decade, Tony Bradley’s 7.1 points on 57.3 percent shooting and 5.1 rebounds in 14.6 minutes over 38 games this past season helped the Tar Heels claim their first National Championship crown since the 2008-09 NCAA campaign.
Bradley is a traditional, low-post player who not only excels with his back to the basket, but also possesses great athleticism, hands and free-throw generating capabilities. Not overly-explosive or consistent as of yet, Bradley is still a bit raw and might need to improve upon both his shot-blocking and development at the NBA level.
Kyle Kuzma (PF, Utah) – Kyle Kuzma made big strides his junior year at Utah, totaling averages of 16.4 points on 50.4 percent shooting, 9.3 rebounds and 2.4 assists in 29 games for a Utes program that has had one player selected in the first round in each of the last two NBA Drafts (Delon Wright, Jakob Poeltl).
A potential stretch-four in the NBA, Kuzma is a versatile offensive player who has great rebounding and facilitating abilities in addition to a strong feel for the game. Kuzma isn’t a high-level athlete and does have some shooting inconsistencies, but his overall blend of size, skill and positional flexibility will be enticing to plenty of NBA teams.
Dillon Brooks (SF, Oregon) – The leading scorer on Oregon’s first Final Four team in 78 years, Dillon Brooks put up 16.1 points on 48.8 percent shooting, 3.2 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.1 steals in 35 games during his junior season for the Ducks.
Brooks’ offensive game is predicated on craftiness, creativity and playmaking. He’s also got a high motor and great intangibles, although will need to improve upon his defending and consistency at the NBA level in order to overcome some lack-of-athleticism concerns.
Jonah Bolden (PF, FMP Beograd/Serbia) – A long winding road for the 6’10” Jonah Bolden might be coming to an end soon after the Aussie averaged 12.9 points on 47.2 percent shooting, 7.2 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.0 steal in 27.7 minutes over 25 league games while playing for Serbian-based FMP Beograd in the ABA League this past season.
The 21-year-old Bolden, who attended high school in the United States and UCLA from 2014-16 before electing to play professionally, is an outstanding shooter (41.9 percent from three-point range last year) with great hands and overall versatility. Bolden is still developing physically and will need some time to adjust to NBA play, but has all the makings of becoming a great stretch-four down the line.
Devin Robinson (SF/PF, Florida) – Lengthy swingman DevinRobinson took another step forward his junior season with the Florida Gators, posting averages of 11.1 points on 47.5 percent shooting and 6.1 rebounds in 26.4 minutes over 36 total appearances this past year in Gainesville.
Measuring 6’8 ¼” with a 7’0 ¾” wingspan, Robinson is known for scoring on the move as well as his high-level athleticism that’s helped make defending his ultimate calling card. Weighing just 190 pounds at the NBA Draft Combine, Robinson will need to get stronger and work on his facilitating a bit, but has enough of a two-way skill set already to perhaps make an early impact on the NBA stage.
Cameron Oliver (PF, Nevada) – Cameron Oliver elected to forgo his final two seasons of collegiate eligibility at Nevada, finishing off his sophomore campaign with averages of 16.0 points on 46.5 percent shooting, 8.7 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 2.6 blocks over 35 games for the 2017 Mountain West Conference Tournament Champion Wolf Pack.
An outstanding finisher around the basket, Oliver is a gifted athlete who can score, rebound, block shots and defend at a high level. He’ll need to improve upon his offensive consistency and also adjust to a relatively big jump in competition, although the talent and ability is very much there for Oliver to become a great, two-way NBA player in the future.
Jaron Blossomgame (SF/PF, Clemson) – Jaron Blossomgame explored entering the NBA Draft last year, although ultimately elected to return to Clemson, where he posted averages of 17.6 points on 49.8 percent shooting, 6.3 rebounds and 1.5 assists in 33 appearances during his senior season with the Tigers.
Another gifted athlete, Blossomgame can score in a multitude of fashions and also possesses good playmaking, rebounding, shot-blocking and defending abilities. Blossomgame’s offensive skills should help land him a spot on a NBA roster, despite limited upside (he’ll turn 24 in September) and some overall inconsistencies to his game.
Dwayne Bacon (SF, Florida State) – LikeBlossomgame, Dwayne Bacon flirted with the NBA Draft last season before returning to Florida State for his sophomore season as he posted averages of 17.2 points on 45.2 percent shooting, 4.2 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.0 steal over 35 outings for the Seminoles this past year.
Bacon is a versatile scorer, great athlete and an all-around solid rebounder and defender who also possesses great size for a wing (6’6 ¼” with a 6’10” wingspan). Bacon is prone to questionable shot selection and lapses on defense at times, but has plenty of athleticism and talent to hear his name called in the upcoming NBA Draft.