What Is The Deal Between Charlotte And Wiseman?

As soon as the Hornets were awarded with the 3rd pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, a lot of talks started around the top projected prospects. There’s been a lot of back and forth between James Wiseman and even though he has his knocks he is a really polarizing young player. Let’s try to understand what Charlotte should do if he is available when they are on the clock.

The player:

James Wiseman is known for his impressive build as he is a 240 lbs 7′ 1” Big with a 7′ 4” wingspan. His frame stands out and is already at an NBA size at just 19 years of age. Unfortunately, too many times he is not able to exploit his physical advantages. The past season he played only three games at the University of Memphis because of trouble with the NCAA. This increased the uncertainty around his evaluation and hurt his draft stock. During this little stretch and in his high school years he displayed a good amount of issues both on defense and offense.

Defensively he has problems at reading the opposite offense and finding the right position. This is underlined when he needs to defend in space or during PnR situations.

The next clip is perfect to understand his problems. The opposite team targets him with various cross screens and he gets lost instead of switching and comunicating with his teammates. The reslut is an open three.

If you add these problems to his lack of lateral mobility the result is a bad defender in the league, especially with the direction the NBA is taking with centers on the defensive side of the court. Penny Hardaway tried to force Wiseman out of the drop coverage in the few games for Memphis but the result wasn’t great. In the next clip you can see that he was demanded to hedge during Pick and Rolls: his footwork is a mess and he is not able to move properly in order to execute the plan.

His inability to understand difensive angles will give him a ton of problems even in basic PnR situations. Too many times his positioning is worrisome and this aspect is going to be exposed at the pro level. Here you have a clear example:

Drafting Wiseman would force his team into the drop coverage, at least for his first years in the league. Optimism about him executing others defensive schemes is really low basing on what we have seen in his short basketball career. Going for this type of defensive organization would allow Wiseman to use his frame in a proper way as he could just sits near the basket and exploit his presence.

A lot of NBA teams go for drop coverage as it is way easier to execute by the centers in the league, but as the playoffs are going on stage right now we are seeing that it gets less effective moving torwards the final games of the season where the level is higher. Using your highest pick in recent history in something that would probably not be effective at the playoff level is not smart at all.

The frame really helps Wiseman during rim protection, but even with this fundamental he showed some issues. Too many times he is not disciplined and very jumpy on fakes as he gets beaten by way less athletic player. Instead of always chasing the big block he should try to stay vertical in order to be much more effective while protecting the rim, some examples of his impatience in the next video:

Offensively he is still very raw. His vertical spacing and rim running will obviously be there from day one in the league but for everything else the path is rough.

During high school he was playing with the ball in his hands a lot and this didn’t help his developement as a good rim runner. In the few games at Memphis he had his role changed and we saw some of his potential as a roll man during PnR. His technique as a screen setter is still raw, but again the frame really helps. Being able to play this type of game will be the key for him in the league offensively because it could open him different possibilities: rolling to the basket, being in position for offensive rebounds and maybe play some pick and pop game.

Penny Hardaway was aware of this aspect and designed different scenarios in order to help him setting easy screens that would allow him to roll to the basket without any problem. The clips display how he is not the most natural screen setter but as soon as he hits the defender the lane is open:

This still raw ability lead us to one of his biggest weaknesses on the offensive side: physicality.

As i said earlier Wiseman’s high school play style hurt a bit his developement and this is clear while watching him exploiting his physical advantage. Too many times he just doesn’t recognize the possibilities his body gives him and goes for a much more difficult style of play. Look at how he run away from some easy mismatches in order to shoot difficult fadeaways:

However this constant search for finesse plays has underlined some sort of touch potential in order to expand his range. During HS he showed some ability to shoot from the three point line, this wasn’t the same for his shortened college career but it is not impossible to see him expanding his range in that direction. His shooting form is okay, however he still needs to work on overall touch.

One of his best offensive trait is open lane speed. This aspect is too often cofused with overall quickness and mobility but Wiseman is just good at running in a straight line, whole different story for lateral mobility as we saw in the defensive part. His body is again the key here, his strides will allow him to follow transition and to play a fast paced game even in the NBA:

What will Mitch Kupchak do?

With the uncertainity around the first picks in this year draft and the problems we saw around this player, it will be possible to find Wiseman still available when the Hornets are on the clock with the 3rd pick.

As soon as Charlotte got the 3rd pick in the lottery, Kupchak did not lose time to clarify what will be the position of the team:

Kupchak stated that the Hornets are not in the stage to draft by position and will choose the best player available when they will be on the clock. The argument of “long time need for a Center” seems to not be in play for our General Manager but possibilities still exist. Let’s try to understand the motivation behind a possible selection of James Wiseman.

First of all Wiseman has a good media reputation as he was the #1 recruit for ESPN in 2019, he has been on the radar of scouts and draft analyst for a long time. Add this to his impressive body structure and you understand why he is always in the top of the most famous mock drafts. You really don’t see that many player physically gifted as he is , that’s why General Managers will feel a little nervous when they are on the clock and he is still available.

This whole upside cloud around him clashes with the film description we had in the first part of the article. Kupchak and his staff should really stay with their feet on the ground and follow what they saw during these years instead of chasing dreams about his potential outcome.

Another element that could tempt Kupchak at selecting him is that Charlotte Hornets best player PJ Washington is one of the best power forwards to pair with Wiseman considering teams at the top of the draft (Besides Draymond Green). PJ’s ability to read and react on the defensive side of the floor could really help Wiseman with rotation, even in hard drop coverage situations. On offense, we saw our number #25 showing great passing ability especially on dump offs to the other bigs. Wiseman on his side, could solidify the issues PJ has in rebounding and rim protection.

Lastly, picking Wiseman would ensure the Center position for quite a long time. Despite the great difficulties we described in the first part, he could be an average player in the league for like 10 to 15 years, even with hitting his medium outcome.


If you’ve been following, I am clearly against using our 3rd pick on James Wiseman. Drafting a Center with defensive and physicality issues that high is not the best use of your franchises highest pick in quite some time. Charlotte is in desperate need of a game changer, a star that can carry the team on his shoulder and Wiseman is not that type of player even if he has a little probability to reach a high ceiling. Kupchak seems to be on the same page as he’s stated a good amount of times that Charlotte is going to select the BPA when they will be on the clock, and I don’t think that guy will be Wisemen.

Cody Martin is Better than you Think he is.

As i’m writing this at lunch, December 12th, Cody Martin has a 5.3 net rating which is only behind Jalen McDaniels who has only played 2.7 minutes total. He has the highest box +/- on the team at 1.5. Cody Martin currently has 2.9 steal% which tells us how many steals a player gets relative to opponent possessions. It rewards players who get steals in less defensive possessions. Among players who have played at least 15 games this year 10(!) have a higher steal% than Cody. There are some familiar names in that list of 10: Kris Dunn, Matisse Thybulle, Dejounte Murray, Donte DiVincenzo, Ben Simmons, Robert Williams, Mikal Bridges, Troy Brown, and Jimmy Butler. Cody currently generating more steals relative to his chances than Kawhi, Chris Paul, or Draymond Green. I think it’s safe to say Cody has good defensive instincts and is an impactful NBA player.

Role on Offense

It is no surprise to me Cody Martin hasn’t been given the opportunity he deserves. He’s older than some of the other players at 24 (September 28). He’s known for his production as a lead guard at Nevada. He was therefore placed into this box as an initiator, and thought to be of little of value outside of that context. Nothing could be further from the truth. So, before we begin some fruitless discussion about Cody’s skills or the lack thereof as a point guard let’s talk about the role I think he should and likely will play as an NBA player.

Cody is an off-ball player, primarily (you are all shocked, I know). People should use some healthy skepticism about Cody’s shooting given his 2-21 3PT shooting thus far, but I think Cody is a shooter. First off, during his senior year at Nevada Cody was EXCELLENT on spot-ups shooting in the 90th (!!!) percentile on good volume (79 possessions) according to synergy. In the half-court on the catch Cody ranked in the 95th percentile (55 possessions). He ranked a mindbogglingly 96th percentile on the guarded portion of those shots (32 possessions). Cody Martin has a bit of that PJ Washington (obviously to a lesser degree) style of being relatively less affected by good contests than most players.

In a Swarm game on December 6th Cody caught fire from 3 (6-11). The highlights demonstrated his touch (swishes on swishes on swishes) and his shot making (several close/good contests).

Former Nevada initiator Martin is an exceptional decision maker who has the passing and ball control to make decisions on the move as well.

I know he steps out, but the process is there.

Couple this with Cody’s athleticism, strength, and ball-handling and you have a formidable PnR ballhandler. Cody was 94th percentile in points-per-possession as PnR ballhandler (98 possessions). Cody’s roll as an NBA player is not a creator, but these stats highlight Cody’s exceptional efficiency on the move using his decision making, handle, vision, finishing, and shooting.

Cody has a bit of sneaky athleticism, because it doesn’t really stand out.

Cody Martin, the spot-shooter who can make some tough shots, attack close-outs, finish, whip passes, and consistency make the right decision time and time again. Cody has all the requisite skills to bring a positive impact to a low-usage roll even into the playoffs. He just has to shoot 3s, that’s it… literally, and I think he will.

Role on Defense

What does Cody do on defense? He. Does. Everything.

He’s 6’5.5 with a 6’10.5 wingspan, sneaky athleticism, and he’s an incredibly cerebral player who works his ass off. He has an impressive amount of lower-body mobility that allows him get over screens and recover at a rate most players can’t. He stunt’s and recovers to perfection. He doesn’t merely read the floor, he seemingly see’s dangers coming before they happen, an even more impressive skill. He has exceptional instincts which help not only in all the before mentioned areas, but also in creating events (steals, blocks, deflections etc.). He’s very strong for a wing, and he can bang with some 4s in the post using that length and functional strength (as well as those instincts). Cody is going to have a high impact on the defensive end.

So much to like, this is my favorite Cody clip

Bottom line

I don’t care who’s minutes have to be cut… just play Cody Martin. Cody Martin is the best wing on this roster, and it’s past time he was rewarded for it.

Terry Rozier’s “Rocky” Start

Terry Rozier is the most polarizing player on the Hornets. I’ve never seen a player enter a new city and immediately be criticized the way that Rozier has through his first 14 games into his Charlotte Hornets career. Mainly, I believe it is because of *who* he is replacing. Before the season started, I laid out a preview into the Terry Rozier experience, and not to parade myself, but I nailed it. Every single aspect of it, the good and the bad.

A very short recap: Pros: athletic, push the pace, rebounder, can get to the rim, and is a willing passer. Cons: up in the air defensively, ineffective shooter, misses open players (especially PnR) despite his passing willingness*.

* Wasn’t mentioned directly, but it was a concern I was aware about.

However, something I did not anticipate was the amount of turnovers and foul trouble. Rozier is averaging three turnovers a game (4:3 AST/TO ratio). He has also been in foul trouble throughout multiple games this season. Since Rozier is a player that relies on rhythm and pace, him having to go to bench multiple times a game because of fouling certainly doesn’t help his strengths.

Something that makes Rozier even more polarizing throughout the Hornets fanbase is Devonte Graham, or rather, best player in the world Devonte Graham???? Listen, I’m going to say this, and you might not believe me, but the Hornets didn’t expect THIS from Graham. No one, not me, you, or the front office believed that Graham could take his big of a leap in an offseason where he saw very limited action the season before. DG started out the year the hottest player in the league, and this skewed perception entirely into “well, why did you sign Rozier if you had this?”

Now I have something that’s going to blow your mind… but no one is going to tell you this… Rozier and Graham have almost identical stats. Both are shooting 41% from the floor, both are averaging three turnovers, Terry is a better rebounder, and Graham is a better facilitator. Of course, the thing that has separated Graham from Rozier so far has been three point percentage. ‘D3vont3’ is shooting 41%, while Terry is shooting 36% (which is relatively average). Both are shooting 14 shots a game, with Devonte averaging 18 points per game and Rozier at 16.

Of course, stats only tell one side of the story. Just watching the games Graham looks smoother overall. We can attribute this to multiple reasons. First, this is Graham’s second year with James Borrego. Obviously, Rozier is entering a new situation. Along those same lines, chemistry with the other players. The Hornets brought back 11/15 players from last year’s team. Of course there is going to be a familiarity aspect into it.

I think the main idea that everybody is missing, regardless of how you view the current point guard situation in Charlotte is that James Borrego LOVES his dual point guard backcourt. Last year he had some combination of Walker/Parker/Graham on the floor during games, and this year it’s Graham and Rozier sharing the court together. The two have been on the court together for 235 minutes this season, which is about 1/3 of all game time. They are both averaging 32 minutes per game. Regardless of who you want to start, it doesn’t matter because the two will both see the floor a ton anyways. If giving Graham that “starter” title makes you feel better, then sure, but it’s worthless in Borrego’s system.

I write this as someone who is already genuinely exhausted of the comparisons because of preconceived notions that were developed either this offseason or *checks notes* 1/5 of the way through a season. That said, I’m not blind to it. If anything, I’m more frustrated than you at Rozier’s inconsistent play because of how I view him as a good player. I get mad at the turnovers, heat checks, fouls, just like all of you. But I promise that he is not playing as bad as people make him out to be playing as. I realize the reality of the situation: a new player, on a new team, “replacing” a franchise player, with a second year player performing out of his mind. Like Aaron Rodgers once said, “R-E-L-A-X.” We’re winning games, and Rozier hasn’t even begun to hit his stride.

PS: You all wanted the Hornets to tank, and now you’re mad that a player is allegedly playing poorly. So which one is it, because you can’t have your cake and eat it, too.

PS2: If Rozier and Graham are putting up damn near equal numbers, then how is one good and one bad? Just something to think about….

NBA Mock Draft 1.0

While the finals have just begun, the NBA draft is also looming large as it takes place in about three weeks. The number one overall pick is clear-cut and as good as set in stone. It also seems as if the Grizzlies know who they’ll be selecting on June 20th.

Before we dive right into this mock draft (3000 words and all), I want to note the importance of differentiating between a mock draft and big board, as it seems not everyone understands how to separate these.

A big board is just that – a player board. One which players are ranked, either by team fit or genuine talent.

A mock draft pairs players to teams based on needs, contractual situations, and previous draft tendencies.

The combine concluded just a week and a half ago, as well. There were many notable risers, such as Nicolas Claxton and Isaiah Roby, two players that made their way into this mock draft.

Other players whose stock rose were Tacko Fall, Luka Semanic, and Jordan Bone.

Outside of the top-2 selections in this draft, there are three lottery players that are rumored to have draft promises.

The first is Darius Garland. The team that gave him the promise was most likely either the Suns (sixth pick) or Lakers (fourth pick). After that, Coby White may have received a promise from the Chicago Bulls. They pick at seven overall. Finally, Rui Hachimura was rumored to have gotten a promise from the Minnesota Timberwolves, who pick at 11.

All right, without further ado, let’s dive into this mock draft.

1. Pelicans – Zion Williamson, Forward, Duke

Zion Williamson is the clear-cut first overall pick in a draft with three primary players at the top. He should be the start of a new era in New Orleans and is unlike any player currently in the NBA.

While I believe that Anthony Davis/Zion Williamson/Jrue Holiday is a top-5 seed in a crowded Western Conference, it does not appear that Anthony Davis believes so and would rather build his brand elsewhere.

Williamson is an incredible defender, transition playmaker, and just downright good basketball player. His effect on opposing teams is incredible and should be able to start at either the small or power forward position, with the ability to play limited minutes at the small-ball five.

2. Grizzlies – Ja Morant, Guard, Murray State

Ja Morant is an electric guard that has immense playmaking ability to go along with Derrick Rose-esque athleticism. Morant is one of the better point guards in recent draft history – along with Markelle Fultz, Lonzo Ball, and Luka Doncic.

The Grizzlies get the long-time replacement for Mike Conley (who they make look to trade later on in this draft, actually), and another young star to pair with defensive monster Jaren Jackson, whom they selected with the fourth overall pick in last year’s draft.

While the Grizzlies will have to convey one of their future draft picks to the Boston Celtics in the near future, getting the second overall pick in this draft class was a clear win, and it seems the team has a logical plan moving forward.

3. Knicks – RJ Barrett, Wing, Duke

RJ Barrett is the best pure scorer in this draft class. I don’t think the Knicks have the assets to land Anthony Davis when compared to the Celtics or Lakers, however, Barrett looks like a future star and certainly has the mentality of one as well.

Barrett had a historically good scoring season for a college freshman and has found success at every level he has played at, including internationally. I understand that he was not the most efficient player and had tunnel vision at times (especially when on the same team as Zion Williamson), but it also must be noted he is one of two players at Duke that had a consistent jump shot.

The Knicks might be able to roll out a starting lineup of Kyrie Irving, RJ Barrett, Kevin Knox, Kevin Durant, and Mitchell Robinson – and yes, while that is a really fun team, four of those players are used to handling the ball for a large share of offensive possessions, and that will be a problem the Knicks have to figure out, should they keep every one of those players (or even sign Irving/Durant to begin with).

Lakers get: Anthony Davis
Pelicans get: Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram, 4th overall pick

4. Pelicans* – Jarrett Culver, Wing, Texas Tech

The Pelicans would be ecstatic, should they get the package I project for Anthony Davis. Jarrett Culver is a do-it-all wing that gives Khris Middleton vibes and is a nice complimentary role player, especially as a rookie.

Culver is a legit 6-6 wing that most likely comes off of the bench as a rookie, especially on a team led by 2-guard Jrue Holiday. That said, Culver has upside in his shot and playmaking ability. He could start at any position one through three and is versatile enough defensively to cover all three of those positions as well.

Building around a lineup of Ball/Holiday/Ingram/Kuzma/Randle with Culver coming off of the bench (well, for now, at least).

I think that, despite possibly losing Anthony Davis, the Pelicans are in one of the best situations in the NBA, merely based on the return value along with, well, Zion Williamson.

5. Cavaliers – Cam Reddish, Forward, Duke

I know that a lot of people really don’t like Cam Reddish, but athletic forwards with shooting form like his do not come along often. Reddish has the length to be a 3/4 combo and could be the perfect complimentary piece moving forward, especially for a young point guard like Collin Sexton.

Reddish hit multiple clutch shots for Duke last season, and he was on a team with RJ Barrett and Zion Williamson, so that should not be discounted. Often times, you didn’t really notice him on the court, and that is a point of concern.

Consistency will also be a big factor moving forward for Reddish. And for the Cavs, it’s hard to not be excited about this pick – especially when you have all of your future draft picks.

6. Suns – Darius Garland, Guard, Vanderbilt

I’m not sure I like this draft pick, but I do fully expect it to happen. Garland is a score-first guard that can put the ball in the basket at all three levels. I have some questions about his passing and vision, especially given he had a negative assist/turnover ratio in the five games he played, and that’s just not what you want from the point guard position, given he will have to share the ball with Devin Booker and DeAndre Ayton.

Garland is a capable defender if he’s guarding a one, but as soon as he switches, things tend to get questionable. It was also rumored that he was promised a pick by the Suns, but Garland also worked out at the Klutch Sports pro day, so this may not be true.

Garland is one of the better guards in this class and is certainly an exciting selection for a Suns team that needs help. I also wouldn’t count out Phoenix trading this pick in a package for Mike Conley (or Lonzo Ball, for that matter). But in this scenario, they keep it.

7. Bulls – Coby White, Guard, UNC

Coby White is a dynamic, quick scorer, with playmaking and defensive upside. The Bulls already have a great young core consisting of Lauri Markkanen, Zach LaVine, and Wendell Carter (who was injured for the majority of the season).

While I believe White is best suited as a two-guard (see Jamal Murray in Denver), White is a willing passer and was able to initiate an offense for the Tar Heels.

White is perhaps the third best point guard in this draft class, and after him, it drops off significantly. It’s possible a team in the late lottery reaches for a player like Carsen Edwards, Shamorie Ponds, or Ty Jerome.

8. Hawks – DeAndre Hunter, Forward, Virginia

The Hawks have two picks in the top ten after a disappointing lottery draw. DeAndre Hunter is a premier 3&D prospect and fits in very well on a team with Trae Young at point guard (and John Collins as well).

John Collins isn’t exactly a floor spacer although his shot has significantly developed since his days at Wake Forest. Trae Young has turned into an elite young player and should be a spectacular point guard moving forward. Adding a combination of two lottery talents to an existing young roster is really exciting for Atlanta.

I could see the Hawks going Doumbouya with this pick, or perhaps even Nassir Little, who they have already worked out. Hunter is just a better fit for what the Hawks are trying to build.

9. Wizards – Sekou Doumbouya, Forward, France

Sekou Doumbouya has a spectacular amount of defensive potential. The Wizards traded away Otto Porter last trade deadline, who was a great complimentary piece surrounding Bradley Beal.

John Wall’s future is somewhat in question, but Doumbouya is a forward and a shot at another star in a Washington attempt to add to a now-mediocre team. Jaxson Hayes is another option is the Wizards do not plan on bringing back Thomas Bryant. I also could see them taking a shot at Rui Hachimura, an offensive-minded forward.

Washington hasn’t had the best draft history recently, specifically last year. Troy Brown, a wing player whom they picked last year, only played about 15 minutes per game following the All-Star break. The team clearly believes in him, so we’ll have to see if he can improve on a disappointing rookie campaign.

10. Hawks – Jaxson Hayes, Big, Texas

If the Atlanta Hawks walk away with both Jaxson Hayes and DeAndre Hunter, I think they will be ecstatic on draft night. Hayes is a rim-running big that is one of the rawest players in this class.

It’s also of note that the Hawks are, in fact, a landing spot for Rockets center Clint Capela, and they certainly have the cap space and draft capital to make a move to get him. However, I don’t necessarily foresee them doing a trade that would involve Capela simply based on the fact Atlanta trusts their drafting skills – I mean, just look at what they have come away with in the past two years – John Collins, Trae Young, Kevin Huerter, and Omari Spellman – all of which look like rotational guys.

11. Timberwolves – Rui Hachimura, Forward, Gonzaga

Rui Hachimura is an offensive-minded forward that was Gonzaga’s leading scorer. Despite this, I don’t see lottery value in his skill set. He’s spectacular at the rim (72% FG at the rim, per the Stepien), and has long-range potential.

I don’t love the fit next to Karl-Anthony Towns, a scorer and top-5 center in the NBA. Hachimura certainly has potential and is viewed by most NBA teams as a lottery talent. I would not be surprised if he went in the top-7 picks.

The Timberwolves already have a four that fits next to Towns fairly well – Dario Saric. This is a pick that likely signals that Minnesota is doing one of two things: prepping for Saric’s pending free agency in 2020 or taking a shot at landing another star.

12. Hornets – Goga Bitadze, Big, Georgia

Hornets’ general manager Mitch Kupchak has outlined that rim-protection is Charlotte’s biggest needs. Bitadze brings that along with an NBA-ready scoring skillset where he is already able to stretch the floor, play-make for teammates, and score in the post, as well.

Charlotte has four centers on the roster already: Cody Zeller, Bismack Biyombo, Willy Hernangomez, and Frank Kaminsky – but Kaminsky is a free agent, and Biyombo and Hernangomez are going to be free agents in 2020. Cody Zeller is probably Charlotte’s best player when healthy, but the problem is Zeller has only played 82 games in the past two seasons (and only over 75 games in a single season once).

Bitadze isn’t enough to make Kemba Walker stay, but he is an exciting (and pro-ready) piece that the Hornets desperately need.

13. Heat – Kevin Porter, Wing, USC

Kevin Porter has the potential to be an electric scorer. He’s athletic, long, and was arguably a top-5 prospect in this draft class before his suspension in February.

The Heat need to take a home-run swing on a player. They’re cap-stricken and only a borderline playoff team. Porter should be a rotational piece right away but would immediately benefit from the culture in the Miami organization.

There is a slight hitch in Porter’s jump shot, but he was spectacular from three in his limited college games, but a flaw in his free throw mechanics caused him to shoot just above 50% from the charity stripe. I think Porter has gone criminally underrated throughout this draft process and is third on my personal big board. The Heat would be very happy to land him with the 13th overall pick.

14. Celtics – Romeo Langford, Wing, Indiana

Romeo Langford is a player I could see at any position 1-3. The Celtics have three picks in the first round, and I predict that they will take a high risk/high reward player with their highest selection.

Langford wasn’t a great shooter at Indiana (very bad, actually), but he was dealing with a thumb injury throughout the entirety of the year. Assuming this is fixed for the future, it will be interesting to see whether he improves his percentages.

A report from Steve Kyler stated that the Celtics want to build their future starting five around Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. If so, Langford is essentially pushed into the starting point guard role, especially with Terry Rozier effectively gone. Either way, Langford is an intriguing selection for any team.

15. Pistons – Bruno Fernando, Big, Maryland

The Pistons have been working out first-round bigs, which leads me to believe that they either want depth in the frontcourt or are willing to part with Andre Drummond (for the right price). Fernando is a center with a lot of offensive potential and would certainly be a change-up from the past season and a half for the Pistons.

16. Magic – Tyler Herro, Wing, Kentucky

The Magic need more shooting – a lot more shooting – and Tyler Herro is certainly that. But, he’s not only a shooter. Herro was more than an average defender for the Wildcats this season and has a very high basketball IQ.

17. Nets – Brandon Clarke, Big, Gonzaga

Many will be surprised to see Brandon Clarke fall this far, but he’s been largely working out with teams in the 12-18 range, which leads me to believe that is where he will be drafted. Clarke is an NBA Twitter-favorite, a high-athleticism tweener that can get anything inside.

18. Pacers – Kezie Okpala, Forward, Stanford

KZ Okpala is an interesting forward to look at. His stroke was somewhat inconsistent at Stanford this past season, but players of his size and versatility at the three/four are rare and Okpala should be hailed as a late lottery pick, especially in this draft class.

19. Spurs – PJ Washington, Forward, Kentucky

PJ Washington is like a Miles Bridges-lite. He’s a tweener offensively and offers athleticism and shooting potential, and can cover any position 2-4 on defense. The Spurs could use a player to push them back into a top-5 seed in the Western Conference, and while Washington may not be that immediately, he is certainly a flyer.

20. Celtics – Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Guard, VA Tech

The Boston Celtics are taking another guard with this pick. NAW is a scoring/playmaking combo-guard that could come off of the bench and score/facilitate for an offense. For a now-rebuilding Celtics team, he makes a lot of sense.

21. Thunder – Nassir Little, Forward, UNC

I could see Nassir Little going much higher than this, but the Thunder should take a high-risk player. Little didn’t have much feel for the game at UNC, and certainly wasn’t what you wanted defensively, but has the frame to make a day-one impact if coached correctly.

22. Celtics – Keldon Johnson, Wing, Kentucky

Keldon Johnson is an athletic two-guard whose best skill is in the transition game. He was relegated to being a spot-up shooter at Kentucky, and while that isn’t favorable, he showed he’s never going to be the prospect people once thought.

23. Jazz – Isaiah Roby, Forward, Nebraska

Isaiah Roby is a player that really improved his stock during the NBA Combine. He excelled in 5v5s and those players have typically risen on draft boards, as seen last year in Donte DiVincenzo, among others.

24. 76ers – Mfiondu Kabengele, Big, FSU

The 76ers will likely run it back next season, but they need more quality depth. Kabengele is a big that will certainly be an upgrade over… *checks notes*… Boban?

25. Trail Blazers – Grant Williams, Forward, Tennessee

Grant Williams is just a good basketball player. He was great in the NCAA tournament for Tennessee (despite his team mildly disappointing). He’s a great defensive player and could end up in the lottery if a team wants a safe NBA prospect.

26. Cavs – Bol Bol, Big, Oregon

Bol Bol is the ultimate flyer. He has a great stroke for a player of his size, but is very light for his position, being less than 215 points at 7-foot-2. All in all, if the Cavs walk away with Bol and Reddish, they are likely very happy by the end of draft night.

27. Nets – Talen Horton-Tucker, Wing, Iowa State

Talen Horton-Tucker is another player that could go as high as the lottery. He’s a project player, but his wingspan and defensive versatility make him an ideal player to put next to, say, D’Angelo Russell.

28. Warriors – Nic Claxton, Big, Georgia

Claxton was viewed as a late second round player going into the combine but boosted his stock tremendously. The Warriors could use more depth on their team (in general, simply put), and Claxton gives them a young option at both forward and big.

29. Spurs – Chuma Okeke, Forward, Auburn

The Spurs, once again, are shooting high with a forward that won’t play next year. Okeke is one of the better fours in this class and can score both inside and on the perimeter. He was playing incredibly at the NCAA tournament and could have gone in the lottery, had he not torn his ACL.

30. Bucks – Cameron Johnson, Forward, UNC

The Bucks will need to replicate some shooting with so many of their players as free agents this offseason. Cameron Johnson, well, was the best shooter in college basketball. He can play instantly as either a small or power forward and the Bucks get a value at the end of the first round.

Notable players still left: Jontay Porter, Shamorie Ponds, Carsen Edwards, Ty Jerome, Lou King, Zach Norvell, Jalen Lecque, Darius Bazley, Luguentz Dort, Dylan Windler, Eric Paschall, Matisse Thybulle

Hornets Sluggishly Fall to Utah, 119-111.

The Charlotte Hornets dropped a good chance to take hold of a winning record as they fell to the Utah Jazz 119-111, on Friday night. 

The story of this came down to the perimeter defense, well, just the defense in general.  Going into tonight, the most 3-point field goals the Hornets have given up in a game on the season was 16, tonight they gave up 18 threes on 40 attempts (45%).

Basically the entire game had a similar storyline.  The Jazz would build up a decent sized lead, the Hornets would cut it down to one possession or so, and then the Jazz would pull away and build it right back up.

A big reason for the defense struggling could be attributed to Cody Zeller having to leave the game early in the first half.  He’s no juggernaut on defense but he still adds value to the lineup, being forced to play small at times against Rudy Gobert leads to having to have extra help to account for him, which in turn opens things up on the perimeter.  We are unsure of the severity of Cody Zeller’s injury, but it would be devastating to lose him for any amount of time.

Perhaps the most interesting revelation from this game was the emergence of Jae Crowder as the next Ray Allen.  The most threes he had made in any game over the course of his seven year career was six, so naturally he decided to match that tonight against the Hornets.  

Kemba Walker (21 pts, 7 rebs, 4 asts), Jeremy Lamb (24 pts, 5 rebs), and Tony Parker (20 pts, 9 asts) took turns throughout the game  attempting to keep the team in it, but it just wasn’t meant to be tonight.

The Jazz were executing well, the defense was lethargic, and Cody’s absence on the offensive end threw them off just enough to prevent them from being able to keep up with the Jazz.

The Charlotte Hornets are now 11-11 (and all things are perfectly balanced in the universe), and will next face the New Orleans Pelicans at home on Sunday at 5 p.m.

Oh wait, one positive from the game is that Miles Bridges had another massive dunk, go ahead and put your bets in for him as dunk contest champion now!

Introducing The Queen’s Guard: A New Direction

Happy Thanksgiving and a very happy holidays to all of you today. This morning as I prepare to feast on the most wonderful meal of the year, I decided I should drop some very exciting news about a new venture that I have been working on. 

Now, Scoop n’ Score hasn’t been in operation for very long, and I wish I was able to post more content on a regular basis. However, with everything going on in life, and the amount of time I spend writing for At the Hive, it wasn’t feasible for me to maintain this in the way that I wanted to. I’m hoping to change that in a major way today!

I’m very proud to announce that with the help of Dylan Jackson (@JaxonNBA), Josh George (@Ballsohard_Josh), Chase Pletcher (@Chasepletcher4), and of course myself, (@Stephenstweets_), we are starting The Queen’s Guard (The QG), a Charlotte sports blog. Here at The QG our goal is simple, provide all Charlotte sports fans with content and coverage from the fans viewpoint. 

To start off, this site will mainly focus on the Charlotte Hornets and Carolina Panthers. As we grow we will look at adding other relevant Carolina sports. Whether it be the Carolina Hurricanes, college athletics, or even our minor league baseball team the Charlotte Knights. We want this to be a place where ALL of Charlotte sports fan can one day gather to find and discuss their favorite teams.

Our aim is to provide you all with articles that provide relevant updates, game previews and reviews. At some point I want to even add a forum for day to day discussion. We will even be live tweeting games from our twitter account @TheQGB to be able to get live fan reaction and communicate with all of Charlotte sports nation while our teams play.

We look forward to what’s to come and can’t wait to share this journey with you!

Carolina Panthers Bye Week Food for Thought

Three weeks have now quickly passed in the Carolina Panthers season and I can say that I have already experienced every single emotion a fan can possibly go through in that short of a timespan. At the conclusion of the Bengals game I genuinely had no idea what the identity of our team is but for somehow, thats done a complete 180 and I am oddly confident in the middle of this break.

To briefly recap the first three weeks. We started out the season with a ugly win against Dallas finishing with a score of 16-8. The Cowboys are not very good, and that game should not have been nearly as close as it was. It ended up coming down to the last few drives which isn’t a good sign for a team looking to make a Super Bowl push. At the time of this I thought, first game kinks, no worries, we will smooth it out. I think optimistically  a lot. Our makeshift offensive line was actually solid, and this “new” accurate Cam Newton was great, but the problem on offense came from the receivers who were unable to create any separation and dropped some easy balls. The defense made the Cowboys offense irrelevant for three quarters, containing Ezekiel Elliot, and making Das Prescott beat them. So, same old Panthers I guess.

Moving into the week 2 at Atlanta. The Falcons were coming off a loss to the Super Bowl Champion Eagles in what was an atrocious game. They actually looked horrid, couldn’t function at all in the red zone. So us losing 31-24, and pretty much letting them score every time they reached the red zone wasn’t the happiest of feelings for me.

Sure, we were in the game and lost on the final drive of the game, but everything leading up to that was the most frustrating piece of football I have seen from this team in a long time. Matt Ryan carved our defense up going 23/28 for 272, had a pair of touchdowns and a pick. Kinda standard, whatever. The issue came in the run defense where we allowed Tevin Coleman –the backup running back, a good one I guess, but still a backup–  to go off for 107 yards, while averaging almost 7 yards a carry. I really don’t even remember the last time our defense gave up 100 yards to a running back.

This is what we pushed me over the edge though.


I mean.. are you joking? Also, our receivers just looked bad again and I feel like I can already say DJ Moore is the best receiver on this team. Hopefully Curtis Samuel comes back soon and can bring what he brought to the preseason to the team. However for the time being, I need more of this.


Moving on to week 3 at home against the Bengals. I rate the Bengals pretty highly at the moment, in my AFC Preview I had them finishing this season at 9-7. With the state of the AFC North at the moment, they might just win that division.

So to beat these guys 31-21 is a quality win in my eyes. The only negative in my eyes was the safety position. Colin Jones spent a lot of time looking at the back of receivers jerseys. Not his fault, he’s a special teams player, so please leave him there, Ron Rivera. Lastly, Christian McCaffrey is proving everyone who thinks he can’t run between the tackles wrong. 28 carries for 184, averaging almost 7 a pop is going to win you almost every game.


“Too Small,” they say.

So, Carolina is 2-1 at the bye week and looking at ways to improve. The offensive line could use some tuning, receivers need to get focused, and safety could definitely use a major upgrade with losing Searcy to injured reserve. So we go out and give the Bills a late 2021 pick for Marshall Newhouse. Bills fans don’t seem to like him, so cool I guess. Then we turn around and sign former pro bowl safety, Eric Reid and then I proceeded to lose my mind in the most positive way possible.

Assuming he still has juice in the tank, Reid is going to bring some quality play at safety, and leadership to go along with that. I don’t expect Reid to be great coming out of the gate, he has missed a lot of time, but this is a step in the right direction not only for our secondary, but for the state of the franchise. With this being a “strictly football decision” Panthers new Owner, David Tepper, is showing that he will do what it takes to improve this football team, even if that means going against the league. Something that would have never been done during the Jerry Richardson regime.

This signing was extra special to me not only because we desperately need a safety but because it seems like I have spent an eternity explaining why Reid and Colin Kaepernick deserve a spot on a NFL roster. For my team to make that happen is amazing to me.

This move has me excited again and I think the Panthers are getting ready to take off coming out of the bye week. With Reid joining the team, and Thomas Davis returning soon, the team morale is getting ready to receive a major boost that should benefit this organization greatly.

NFC Preview

We have finally arrived to everyone’s favorite part of the calendar year, the soothing time of fall. The leaves changing colors can mean one thing and one thing only, football season is upon us. We have all so dearly missed the big plays, dramatic moments, terrible rule changes, and highly questionable ownership that makeup the foundation of this beautiful league.

This means it’s time to roll out season previews and predictions, before the season starts so that I’m not already behind with my first official blog post.

I spent a good portion of a slow evening, going through each week of the NFL schedule -game by game- to come up with these records and standings that I’ll be posting, but still take it with a grain of salt.

With that said, I’ll begin.

NFC North

  1. Minnesota Vikings: Prediction 12- 4, 2017 Record: 13-3

Following a very impressive 2017 campaign Minnesota will look to improve in the very few places they had problems. Case Keenum played well last season but the addition of Kirk Cousins at quarterback should prove to be a huge difference for Minnesota’s offense. Its very hard to repeat a 13 win season, but I still have them being one of the best teams in the NFC.

2. Green Bay Packers: Prediction 10-6, 2017 Record: 7-9

Winning 7 games with Brett Hundley at quarterback is impressive in its own right. Getting Aaron Rodgers back is massive, and it’s worth at least an additional 3 games. I don’t fancy the weapons around Rodgers, but there’s no doubt he will make some magic happen.

3. Chicago Bears: Prediction 8-8, 2017 Record: 5-11

A year under Mitch Trubisky’s belt should help things slow down for him. The big addition of Khalil Mack will help solidify an already solid defense. Look for the Bears to cause problems to their division foes.

4. Detroit Lions: Prediction 6-10, 2017 Record: 9-7

The Lions will be better than their record shows. Detroit will fall victim to everyone in their division simply being further along the curve than they are. I think they will be one of those teams where it seems almost all of their losses come from within 6 points. Also I can’t confidently say I’m a huge believer in new Head Coach, Matt Patricia.

NFC East

  1. Philadelphia Eagles: Prediction 11-5, 2017 Record: 13-3

It seems like very rarely do teams coming off of a Super Bowl run repeat that success the following season barring the Patriots. I believe the Eagles will still be a force to be reckon with in the league but they will end up taking a small step back from 2017. Fortunately enough for them, the rest of their division is no where near as talented as they are. I think they start off slow with Wentz being out but pick it up big time in the second half of the season to surge into the playoffs.

2. New York Giants: Prediction 9-7, 2017 Record: 3-13

A solid turnaround for the Giants this season will see them become competitive in the league once again. The addition of Saquon Barkley will be massive, and the receiving core around quarter back, Eli Manning, is the best it’s been in years. This may very well be Eli’s last chance to prove he still has something left in his tank. On the opposite side of the ball, a very solid defensive unit should be able to keep them in any game this season.

3. Washington Redskins: Prediction 8-8, 2017 Record: 7-9

Washington’s big addition this season was trading for Alex Smith for one of their young star corners in Kendall Fuller after they lost Kirk Cousins. Its hard to say what this will do to the Redskins, I think they stay more or less the same as last season, with no significant strides. Look for them to be competitive to a handful of good teams and turnaround and lose games they should easily win.

4. Dallas Cowboys: Prediction 4-12, 2017 Record: 9-7

I don’t know if a single thing has gone right for the Cowboys this off-season. It seems like there is always something negative surrounding Dallas and I believe the product of that will show on the field. They’re star studded offensive line may start the season missing three starters in Zach Martin, Travis Frederick and La’el Collins. Outside of Ezekiel Elliot in the backfield, quarterback Dak Prescott has no proven weapons around him besides Cole Beasley. If it remains that way for the remainder of the season, Dallas could find themselves in a massive hole.

NFC South

  1. Carolina Panthers: Prediction 12-4, 2017 Record: 11-5

My bias may be showing here but I truly believe the Panthers take the next step this season. As a Panthers fan I can confidently say everything seems to be clicking and working just as planned for Carolina. Quarterback Cam Newton is healthy for the first time in years and seems confident as ever. Running back Christian McCaffrey is looking like the every down back fans are dreaming he can be, and out of nowhere Carolina found themselves a solid receiving core where you can say you have heard of more than one of their receivers on the roster. The secondary and offensive line seem to be the main concern at the moment, but you can count on Luke Keuchly and the Panthers defense to always have the ability to make sure their not out of a game.

2. New Orleans Saints: Prediction 10-6, 2017 Record: 11-5

Not a whole lot happened to New Orleans this off season to suggest they would take a dip or improve off of a solid 2017 season. As long as Drew Brees is behind center you can count on the Saints having a solid season. Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas should continue to make big plays and their defense is as good as ever. I think they once again show they’re a force in the NFC.

3. Atlanta Falcons: Prediction 8-8, 2017 Record: 10-6

I think this is the year we see Atlanta regress to their struggling ways. From the outside looking in they seem like a organization that’s ready to pop if they don’t find success and find it quick. They don’t function properly when they play on the road outside of the dome and they have a good amount of this season in some really tough places to play. I think it will be tough for Matt Ryan and gang this season.

4. Tampa Bay: Prediction 2-14, 2017 Record: 5-11

Its been a hurricane down in Tampa Bay yet again with another Jameis Winston situation. How well will the Bucs cope this time? Not too well I think. Tampa Bay hasn’t made any moves that would suggest they could drastically improve. I think its a long shot and they end with the worst record in the league.

NFC West

  1. Los Angeles Rams: Prediction 14-2, 2017 Record: 11-5

Rams will be looking to build on an impressive first season under Head Coach, Sean McVay. This may very well be the best roster in the NFL top to bottom. Assuming Jared Goff can continue to make strides like he has, the Rams should be looking at being among the upper echelon of teams once again this year. They had one of if not the best defensive units last season, and they only got better with their off-season additions.  I can’t wait to watch Ndamukong Suh, who is still one of the most feared defensive linemen in the league, lineup next to Aaron Donald who is one of the most physically dominant players in the entire league, it’s is going to be amazing.

2. San Francisco 49ers: Prediction 9-7, 2017 Record: 6-10

San Francisco will be looking to build off an impressive end to the 2017 season after going 5-0 with Jimmy Garroppolo as a starter. While the honeymoon was nice, reality will hit soon. The Niners first half of the season is tough but I think they may be able to do just enough to have some wild-card hopes at the end of the year.

3. Seattle Seahawks: Prediction 5-11, 2017 Record: 9-7

Things seem to be going down hill for the Seahawks quickly. The legion of boom is no more, Marshawn Lynch is long gone, the only thing left standing (barely) from their glory days is quarterback Russell Wilson. If they have any ounce of a success this season it will be willed by that man.

4. Arizona Cardinals: 4-12, 2017 Record: 8-8

The Cardinals will finally have some stability at quarterback and if (and its a big if) Sam Bradford can stay healthy I think they can be at least an 8-8 team again. However, I don’t think Bradford makes it through the season and at some point rookie quarterback Sam Darnold will take over and I think they’ll go through some bad growing pains.

That will wrap things up for the NFC. I will aim to have the AFC predictions up this weekend before Sunday’s slate of games kick off. If anyone has made it this far, feel free to comment and tell me I’m wrong.

Welcome To Scoop n’ Score

Greetings all,

If you have stumbled upon this page that must mean you have at least the slightest interest in what exactly I have gotten myself into this time. Honestly, I might be on to something this time around. I am very excited to announce that this page, Scoop n’ Score (I tried to go for something clever, its like a double entendre, it’s cool trust me), is going to be my official blog for the foreseeable future!

Now, you’re all more than likely wondering what exactly am I going to be writing about on this here blog? Well, if you know me, then you know how huge my love for sports is, you know how wide of a net that my interest can cast at points, and that’s exactly what this blog will mainly be about. Sports, and other stuff that I think is kind of cool…

For the most part, my posts will focus on my favorite teams; The Carolina Panthers, Charlotte Hornets, and Liverpool Football Club. I’ll try to touch on other teams, happenings and my opinions within the NFL, NBA, European soccer, and college sports. Along with my opinions on certain hot topics going around in the sporting universe.

To start, things here will mainly be NFL related as the season is finally beginning after a long, LONG, offseason. I might sprinkle in some college sports, however thats really not my forte, but hey, we’ll see what happens.

I do also want to write about random, interesting things going on in my life. Possibly some pop culture topics, and maybe some movie and video games reviews down the line as well. All things that I really enjoy and things that can really turn this page into my own little creative space.

With that, I will conclude this introduction post and thank you all for taking the time to visit and read my first blog. I genuinely can’t wait to fan with you all!