Charlotte Hornets: What to Expect from Their 2018 NBA Draft Class

The Charlotte Hornets were very busy on draft night. They made multiple trades, including sending the 11th overall pick (Shai Gilgeous-Alexander) to the Los Angeles Clippers for the 12th overall pick (Miles Bridges) and two second-round picks. Charlotte also traded two future second-round picks to the Atlanta Hawks in exchange for the draft rights to Devonte’ Graham.

Alongside these two selections, the Hornets made Hamidou Diallo the 45th pick in the 2018 draft but later traded him to the Oklahoma City Thunder for a 2019 second round pick and cash considerations. Finally, as hinted by general manager Mitch Kupchak, the Hornets made a draft-and-stash selection with the 55th pick, in Arnoldas Kulboka.

The Hornets should not expect much of Devonte Graham and Arnoldas Kulboka. Drafted with the 34th pick, Graham was selected to be a developmental backup point-guard. Charlotte decided Graham isn’t ready to be thrown into an NBA game yet, so they signed Tony Parker to a two-year, $10 million contract.

At Kansas, Graham averaged 17 points, seven assists, and four rebounds. Graham also was a plus defender, and nearly averaged two steals per game as well. At 23, Graham hasn’t hit his ceiling but certainly doesn’t have the potential of other players selected in the draft such as Trae Young or Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.

Kulboka is an interesting case. Going into draft night, general manager Mitch Kupchak hinted in his pre-draft presser that the Hornets would consider taking a draft-and-stash player with the 55th pick, Kulboka being that guy. Later on, he joked that he “didn’t think Doncic would be available.” Kulboka may be a player the Hornets decide to sign later on, but with all 15 roster spots already filled, there simply isn’t any room for Kulboka as of right now.

Miles Bridges is one of the most pro-ready players in this year’s NBA draft. Charlotte, a team between a rebuild and a playoff run, needed a player just like him. However, most fans aren’t exactly sure what to expect from Miles Bridges.

Miles Bridges was the 12th overall selection by the Charlotte Hornets, right after they traded Shai Gilgeous-Alexander to the Los Angeles Clippers. He is another versatile forward who should bring a steady impact on both sides of the floor. Though slightly undersized for a forward at 6’7″, Miles Bridges has the athleticism and intensity to make his presence known at any time in a game.

Bridges, though he may never be a volume shooter, was efficient at Michigan State. He shot 37% from three in college. From the NBA line, Bridges wasn’t bad either. According to the Stepien, he shot over 35% from the NBA 3-point line. We know for a fact this isn’t a fluke either, as he maintained this percentage throughout two seasons for the Michigan State Spartans.

It’s easy to point your finger and disagree with this draft pick, but the Hornets landed themselves a player that should contribute from day one as a rotational wing and forward. While his numbers do not jump off of the page by any means, Bridges has the athleticism and potential to be a starting caliber player for the Charlotte Hornets.

What should we expect of Bridges in his rookie year? He may have a hard time cracking the rotation initially due to Charlotte’s win-now mentality under Michael Jordan and Mitch Kupchak. However, if he can develop over the course of this NBA season, he might not just be a rotational forward, but a starter as well. The main force behind this train of thought is that Bridges can do everything that 2012 second overall pick Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (who started 74 games for the Hornets) can do and more.

Bridges already has the defense and frame of an NBA player, but his offensive game is where development will be needed. I wouldn’t rule out a season where Miles Bridges averages nine points, four rebounds, and two assists, especially with how his skills fit with Charlotte.

All in all, the Hornets made a selection that could help them now as well as in the long term. Miles Bridges looks like a future NBA starter, and perhaps even more.