Why the Charlotte Hornets Surprise Traded Jalen Duren

With the NBA Draft closed, here's why the Hornets decided to trade the number one center prospect of the draft, Jalen Duren, out of the blue.

In a rather surprising turn of events, the Charlotte Hornets ended up trading away Jalen Duren to the Pistons for one first round pick and four second round picks. Things were really weird last night, thanks in part to WOJ spoiling the trade, and you might be a Hornets fan like me that’s still a little confused about everything that happened.

Fortunately, it apparently wasn’t that dramatic or confusing — rather, Hornets GM Mitch Kupchak decided to trade away pick 13 (Jalen Duren) to Detroit, simply because we had no use for him. According to Kupchak, Mark Williams was always the number one pick for the Hornets as it came to center prospects. Although Duren was listed as number one by many organizations and news sites, his lower floor seemed to counteract his higher ceiling.

With Williams, however, the Hornets have an NBA-ready prospect with a reach that outdoes even elite centers like Rudy Gobert, with rim protection to boot. On top of that, Mark Williams shot a ridiculous 73% from the field last season with Duke, with more than a few perfect-from-the-field games to boot. When it comes to reliability, defense, and scoring potential, apparently you can’t do better than Williams at the 15th pick, one of the reasons why Kupchak ended up taking him there.

For a bit more reference, Williams is 7-foot-2 in shoes, with a reach of nearly 10 feet — that’s almost enough to just put the basketball in the basket when standing. Jumping, we’ve got a serious lob threat with more than enough scoring potential to boot. On top of the chance for a quick scoring turnaround, Williams was the ACC Defensive Player of the Year with nearly 3 blocks per game, atop his ridiculous shooting splits.

As for Jalen Duren, he shot 60% from the field, averaging 12PPG, 8.1RPG, and 1.3APG off about 2 blocks per game. That’s definitely not bad, but when compared to Williams (and his three-inch height advantage), it’s not too surprising why the Hornets ended up taking Williams where they did.

Speaking of which, let’s talk about that draft capital — in return for Jalen Duren to the Pistons, the Hornets received: Denver’s 2023 First Round Pick, the Knicks’ 2nd rounder for next year, Utah’s 2nd rounder for next year, the better of a Dallas/Miami 2nd rounder selection, and a 2024 Knicks 2nd rounder.

The Pistons got Duren and the Knicks got to get rid of Kemba Walker’s contract. I like our 5 picks, but I feel like there’s a chance that we could’ve gotten better compensation for the whole thing. It doesn’t matter now, obviously, although I wish that there was more information in advance. Especially with all the chaos.

Anyway, what do you guys think? I put up a post on my Hornets Instagram page, @hornetsatcharlotte, so feel free to leave some comments there.

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