2023 NBA Mock Draft: Mavericks land difference-maker, Victor Wembanyama heads East

2023 NBA Draft, Victor Wembanyama
2023 NBA Draft, Victor Wembanyama / Aurelien Meunier/GettyImages
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27. Charlotte Hornets (via Nuggets) grab James Nnaji

The Hornets have been searching for a center for years. They recently drafted Nick Richards and Mark Williams, but neither has been able to break through and average more than 20 minutes per game. Charlotte is still searching for a long-term answer at that position.

Nnaji has struggled to find consistent playing time for Barcelona, but the 18-year-old has flashed his potential. It is no guarantee that he goes in the first round on draft night, but given the lack of center in this draft, Nnaji could hear his name called sooner than expected.

He is a 6’10 big man with a reported 7’7 wingspan. Nnaji looks to dominate the paint. He has the strength to defend inside as a plus shot blocker and rim protector. Nnaji’s success switching onto the perimeter could determine if he can stay on the floor when the games matter most.

Nnaji is not NBA-ready, but he could be a starting center for a decade in the NBA if he reaches his ceiling. The Hornets need to shoot for upside as they are never going to be a free-agency destination.

Charlotte grabbed Amen Thompson to give them a wing boost with the fourth overall selection in this mock draft before adding a big man. The Hornets need multiple pieces and walking away with two high-upside prospects to pair with LaMelo Ball should have Charlotte fans excited about the team’s future.