Charlotte Hornets: Top Ten Draftees in Team History

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Feb 14, 2014; New Orleans, LA, USA; NBA former player Alonzo Mourning during the NBA Hall of Fame Annoucement at New Orleans Hyatt. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Number 1: Alonzo Mourning

Drafted: 1992
Pick: 1st Round, 2nd Pick

Why Mourning over Johnson? The Hornets never made the playoffs before Mourning arrived. In his three years in Charlotte, Mourning went to the playoffs twice. That is exactly the number of times the Hornets made the playoffs with Johnson over a five year span. Johnson won nothing without Mourning both before he arrived and after he left.

In 1992, a lot of hype existed around the young center from LSU named Shaquille O’Neal, the problem was that the Hornets had the second pick. Young me wasn’t worried because the second rated player in that draft, Mourning from Georgetown, played the same position as Shaq and was probably just as good. How much of difference is there between number 1 and number 2 in the draft?

Now we can look back and say they were both Hall of Famers, even if Shaq had the better career and one of the best careers in NBA History. In 1992 we saw right away that Mourning was big time. He averaged 21 points, ten rebounds, and 3.5 blocks per game as a rookie while Johnson was putting up fantastic numbers next to him. That team beat the Celtics in the first round of the playoffs.

Mourning continued his strong play and made the All-Star team the next two years. In his three years in Charlotte, he averaged 21 points, ten rebounds, and three blocks. Then Mourning set another precedent for Hornets teams, he became the first big star to talk his way out of Charlotte.

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Mourning’s exit from the Hornets was contentious among fans at the time. Whether it was not getting the money that Johnson had gotten or wanting to play for Pat Riley or both, Mourning was traded to the Heat in 1995 for Glen Rice, Matt Geiger, and Khalid Reeves. It was the first of the Bob Bass deals where Bass seemed to remake the team every so often because the Hornets would not pay to keep star players.

Mourning ultimately went to more All-Star games and finally got an NBA ring with Shaq and Dwayne Wade in his second run with Miami.

Next: Nicolas Batum: The Anti-Steven Jackson

Looking back at the list is remarkable that Kentucky and UConn seem to be the most represented programs. Also there are no high schoolers aside from Bryant, who never suited up for the Hornets.

The current Hornets play at Orlando on December 16.