Busting Brackets

NBA Draft 2024: Top 3 player options for Charlotte Hornets to pick at No. 6

Most experts are not high on the overall strength of this year's draft class, but there are still players that could help the Hornets get back to respectability.
The Hornets are in desperate need of help for LaMelo Ball and Brandon Miller
The Hornets are in desperate need of help for LaMelo Ball and Brandon Miller / Jacob Kupferman/GettyImages
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2) Stephon Castle, UConn

If Donovan Clingan were to somehow drop to 6, the Hornets would probably strain a hamstring rushing to the podium with their pick. The UConn center is just the kind of rim protector that Charlotte needs to shore up its abysmal defense, but all indications are that the Husky big man will be long gone by the time Adam Silver puts the Hornets on the clock.

Instead, Charlotte could look to Clingan's teammate for a different kind of defensive upgrade. Stephon Castle was just a freshman last year, but you wouldn't have been able to tell by the way he defended, and by the way he embraced the pressure of defending the national title the Huskies won before he even got to campus.

Castle is 6'6" and relentless as an on-ball defender. For that reason alone, he's a perfect fit next to LaMelo Ball, to whom defense is, how do I say this nicely? Optional? Castle shut down Illinois star Terrence Shannon Jr. in the Elite Eight, holding the All-American to eight points on 2-12 shooting, and he played a huge role in making Purdue so one-dimensional in the national championship game by helping to hold the Boilermakers backcourt trio of Braden Smith, Fletcher Loyer, and Lance Jones to 17 points on 6-19 shooting.

There are questions about Castle's offensive game, but he's only 19 with plenty of room to grow on that end of the court. Besides, he wasn't asked to shoulder any kind of scoring burden at UConn, not with both Tristen Newton and Cam Spencer soaking up so many touches. When called upon, though, he showed that he could put the ball in the hoop, most notably during the toughest test UConn faced in the tournament, an 86-72 win over Alabama in the Final Four that was much closer than the final score indicated. Castle led the Huskies in that one with 21 points to match his season high, and he added 15 more in the national title game.