Jun 26, 2014; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Noah Vonleh (Indiana) shakes hands with NBA commissioner Adam Silver after being selected as the number nine overall pick to the Charlotte Hornets in the 2014 NBA Draft at the Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Charlotte Hornets: Team Hits Gold With Noah Vonleh

It’s all over, and Noah Vonleh is the newest member of the Charlotte Hornets.

Since the Charlotte Bobcats’ playoff elimination on April 28, all the hype has been centered around the NBA Draft. Now, it can all be put to rest, and all eyes can look towards next season.

“With the ninth pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, the Charlotte Hornets select Noah Vonleh.”

For Hornets fans, there couldn’t have been better news.

An hour or so before the draft began, Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Vonleh’s draft stock was starting to drop–fast, at that. The former Indiana standout was once projected as a potential top-3 pick, after news of Joel Embiid’s foot injury was released.

Seemingly out of nowhere, all that changed.

Vonleh plummeted even further than that, all the way to No. 9, right into the hands of the Hornets. On the surface, slipping upwards of six spots doesn’t seem like an ideal situation for Vonleh, but really, it’s a match made in heaven.

The 19-year-old stands at just under 6’10” in shoes, and has a 7’4″ wingspan. In turn, he is one of the best rebounders in the entire draft class. He lacks the explosiveness that some of the other elite prospects do, but his length and strength make up for it on both ends of the court.

Defensively, Vonleh is a stud. He is your Josh-Smith kind of guy: someone who is going to rack up steals, block shots, and bother guards and forwards alike. He can stay in front of his man, and thanks to his wingspan, it’s tough to get a shot up over him – even a step-back or fadeaway. With Vonleh, the motor is always chugging. He is a hard worker, and will always give it his all. For a team looking to establish a defensive mentality, someone who is as versatile and relentless as Vonleh is on that end of the floor is going to be a critical piece moving forward.

Offensively, he still has a ways to go. At Media Day, he adamantly stated that he was going to be a small forward in the NBA, but with Charlotte, he just doesn’t fit in as a three. He is a power forward, there’s no second-guessing his position. He is going to be a stretch-4, mind you, who can hit the outside shot as well as generate offense in the paint when need-be, but a four nonetheless.

His jumper is solid, and his handles are improving, but he is a very effective face-up player, despite his lack of explosiveness. The footwork needs some extra development, but luckily, Vonleh will be mentored by Al Jefferson, who probably has some of the best offensive footwork in the NBA. Drop steps, step-throughs, dream shakes – Vonleh is going to have it all.

Charlotte needed a floor spacer, and while it’s tough to project how effective Vonleh’s unconventional stroke will be from the NBA three-point line, he should be able to hit it enough, at least to the point at which defenses will be forced to respect it.

It’s been a long time since Charlotte has had such an intriguing two-way prospect, and now, Noah Vonleh looks to be the next to exceed expectations.


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