The NBA Draft is less than a week away and who the Charlotte Hornets might select still remains very cloudy. With the Hornets not making the playoffs since the 2015-16 season despite Kemba Walker putting together three-straight All-Star seasons, it’s safe to say this team needs to surround Walker with some help and they need to hit with this pick.
With that in mind, just about every position is in play with this pick. As for who the Hornets could potentially draft at No. 12 overall, let’s take a look at Bol Bol, a center out of Oregon.
Bol is easily one of the most polarizing prospects in the draft due to his rare combination of size, boasting a 7-foot-2 frame, athleticism, handles and jump shooting from all over the floor. It’s a small sample size, but he was absolutely dominant in nine games at Oregon before suffering a season-ending foot injury, averaging 21 points, 9.6 rebounds and 2.7 blocks per game while shooting 56.1 percent from the floor, 52 percent from 3-point range and 75.7 percent from the free throw line.
He’s a guy who can do it all on the offensive end, which is why he was a consensus top-five pick before getting hurt. There are concerns about the injury, as there always are, but Bol recently held a private workout for draft scouts where he appeared to be moving very well.
While Bol is dominant offensively and appears to be progressing well from his , he doesn’t come without his flaws, some of which Rob Dauster of NBC Sports highlighted in a recent profile.
"He also has nowhere near the footspeed or lateral quickness to be able to defend anyone on the perimeter. The idea of asking him to switch a pick-and-roll and try to stay in front of any NBA guard will cost his coaching staff next season at least two hours of sleep every night before a game."
Add in Bol’s light frame, weighing in at 208 lbs at the NBA Combine, and that makes him a defensive liability outside of his shot-blocking ability. While it’s easy to say that he could bulk up, putting on that weight runs the risk of putting too much pressure on his foot and re-aggravating the injury.
As for how he would fit with the team, on paper, the Hornets have a lot of options at center, but the issue is the quality of those options. Bismack Biyombo and Willy Hernangomez were both underwhelming behind the injury prone Cody Zeller at center, who Bol could also be a potential upgrade over a few years down the road. Additionally, Biyombo and Hernangomez only have one year left on their respective contracts, while Zeller has two, so the need for a center would come up anyway.
Another big worth mentioning in this conversation is Frank Kaminsky. Playing both big spots for the Hornets, Kaminsky was someone who had almost certainly seemed like he was on the way out because he was in head coach James Borrego’s doghouse for much of the season. However, he cracked the lineup again following the All-Star break and saw some success, playing at least 15 minutes in 19 of the final 21 games and scoring in double figures in 14 of them. This makes letting him walk a tougher decision as he started to gel within the system late in the season.
With Kaminsky becoming a restricted free agent this offseason, it’ll be worth monitoring what both him and Charlotte have planned for his future with the team. If he leaves, the Hornets have the need for a big man who can stretch the floor alongside Marvin Williams. If Kaminsky stays, Charlotte might feel that this isn’t as much of a need and choose to draft someone at another position.
If he works out, Bol is a player who can give the Hornets scoring at the center position they haven’t had since Al Jefferson while providing rim protection similar to that of Biyombo. However, like I said, it’s hard to find someone with this much talent who doesn’t have red flags at 12th overall, and it could prove to be yet another of a long line of busts in Charlotte’s draft history.