The best NBA rookie so far thought he was Charlotte-bound – Charlotte Observer

Media view only the last few minutes of a Charlotte Hornets predraft workout, which usually means kids taking some free throws while drenched in sweat.

But it was hard to miss when Louisville’s Donovan Mitchell arrived at the Spectrum Center practice gym, if only because his 7-foot wingspan was so preposterously long, relative to his 6-3 height. Word leaked out from that day how impressive Mitchell looked. Did he think he made a good impression?

“I thought I was coming here, to be honest with you,” the Utah Jazz rookie said after scoring 35 points on the Hornets in a 99-88 loss. “I thought I did (catch the Hornets’ eye), that I’d be drafted (11th overall to Charlotte). But it didn’t work out that way, and I’m happy where I’m at.

“But I definitely did get that feeling at the draft.”

Instead, the Hornets chose Kentucky guard Malik Monk, a freshman who averaged 18.5 points for the Wildcats. Mitchell ended up being selected 13th overall by the Jazz.

The contrast between these two players’ rookie seasons has always been dramatic, but Friday’s game was particularly demonstrative: Mitchell, a strong candidate for NBA Rookie of the Year, made 10 of 20 shots from the field, 5-of-11 from 3-point range and got to the foul line 11 times, making 10. He played 37 minutes, grabbed five rebounds and spent parts of the game guarding the Hornets’ top scorer, All-Star point guard Kemba Walker (22 points).

Not that Mitchell was flawless; he committed five turnovers, including four in the fourth quarter, when the Hornets outscored the Jazz 25-16.

Meanwhile, Monk didn’t play Friday. That was his third DNP-coach’s decision in the last six games. He totaled 20 minutes in the other three of those games.

Did the Hornets blow the 2017 draft? It’s

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