My task is suggest what the Hornets might do if that doesn’t happen. A world where Lance decides that the Pacers are so close that he is willing earn a little less to get a title. How do the Hornets draft if they don’t think they can get Stephenson?
The key is Coach Steve Clifford. Clifford is a coach that values defensive intensity. The only way to keep up defensive intensity is to adjust to what your opponent may try. That means flexibility is a key asset in drafting.
The Hornets roster has three fixtures, point guard Kemba Walker, center Al Jefferson, and the developing small forward, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (Gerald Wallace 2.0). That would leave power forward and shooting guard as natural draft focuses, but those spots have to complement the Jefferson-Walker tandem. Jefferson eats the paint, so you need a PF who can shoot like Atlanta’s Paul Millsap or current Hornet Josh McRoberts. Walker likes to create, so you need a SG that can play off the ball and shoot.
Instead of looking at traditional position sets, I looked at draft lists for players that did not quite fit the mold, but could offer interesting position coverage.
That brought me to Duke wing Rodney Hood.
In most mocks Hood is listed as a small forward, with criticisms of his strength. Can he guard fours? I saw something else- Hood is 6’8 and 204 lbs. That reminded me of someone else- Captain Jack. In fact Hood’s senior year at Duke (16 points, four rebounds, two assists) looks a lot like former Bobcat Stephen Jackson’s 40-minute splits as a rookie (15/5/3).
Stephen Jackson was a productive player in the league for years, including in Charlotte. He fit perfectly as a lengthy wing defender manning the two guard spot normally, but shifting to the three in small lineups. He also generated his share of offense, which was good because those teams lacked go-to options.
Hood has the necessary shooting range to man the two. He can offer a bigger body to become a disruptive wing defender, and Crawford would coach him up. He can also slide to the SF to match up with smaller teams. Unlike Jackson, he would not need to dominate the ball to produce. He also is not known to have any of Jackson’s quirks. In short, he would be an interesting piece for Crawford to have. Why would we not pair Gerald Wallace 2.0 with Stephen Jackson 2.0?
He may not fall to the ninth pick … stay tuned.