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Big men top draft hopes for Hornets

By Darnell Mayberry Published: June 23, 2006
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Patrick O’Bryant. Hilton Armstrong. Cedric Simmons.

Chances are one of those three post players will don a Hornets hat next Wednesday night at the NBA Draft in New York City.

The Hornets have made it clear that they’re looking to use the 12th and/or 15th selection on an interior presence.

They want a player who is between 6-foot-10 and 7-feet, is athletic, can rebound, block shots and defend.

“If we can get a big at 12 and 15, we’ll take that and then we’ll take our chances in free agency as far as getting a shooter,” said Hornets coach Byron Scott.

“Bigs are hard to get, so if you can get a 6-11 and a 7-footer or 6-11 and 6-10 that can help clog up that middle and block shots and rebound, then I think it helps make us an even more attractive team as far as free agency goes to try to land a guy that can flat out shoot the ball.”

Keep this in mind, though. None of the centers that are projected to be available when the Hornets pick are expected to be good enough to come in and start from Day One. Some not even in Year One.

O’Bryant, a 7-footer from Bradley, is widely regarded as the No. 1 center. But he just turned 20 on Tuesday and is lauded for what he could develop into rather than for what type of player he is now. O’Bryant, who the Hornets likely would select if he were still available at No. 12, averaged 13.4 points and 8.4 rebounds last year as a sophomore. But he possesses the shot-blocking and defensive ability the Hornets are seeking, while his offensive game is expected to develop in time.

Armstrong, a 6-11 center from Connecticut, would be an option for the Hornets with the 15th selection. He’s also a big-time shot blocker, but unlike O’Bryant, he has the leaping ability and athleticism to run the floor, which would fit nicely in the Hornets up-tempo style of play.

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