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Canes Hoops: Could Lonnie be Headed Home?

We look at potential landing spots for Lonnie Walker IV at next week’s NBA Draft

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Dallas Practice
Miami Hurricanes freshman phenom Lonnie Walker IV has been mocked anywhere in the 10-16 range of the first round.
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

For most of the pre-draft cycle, Miami’s first round prospect Lonnie Walker IV has been slotted between picks 13 and 16 (LA Clippers, Denver Nuggets, Washington Wizards, and Phoenix Suns). He’s worked out for a handful of teams, and in the last week or so, his stock has been rising. Yesterday, he got an opportunity every NBA hopeful looks for, a workout with his hometown team and the owners of the #10 pick, the Philadelphia 76ers:

The Sixers look genuinely excited at the prospect of taking the Reading, PA product, tweeting a highlight video showcasing his talents:

They even showed him some love for his shoe game:

After seeing this positive shift in the draft stock for Lonnie, let’s take a look at his possible landing spots for the Canes freshman phenom.

10. Philadelphia 76ers

This appears to be the highest place Walker could land in the draft, as there is a clear tier of 9 prospects consistently rated higher than Lonnie. The Sixers are in the market for a serviceable big man, as back-up front court players Richaun Holmes and Amir Johnson may either be moved in an effort to bring in a big name or may become too expensive for Philly to retain them going forward. That points to a Wendell Carter (if he falls to 10) or Robert Williams pick. The more likely route is for the Sixers draft a wing, either a 3 and D or one that can create their own shot. Philly already has a decently talented 3 and D wing in Robert Covington who was named 1st Team All Defense, but he along with JJ Redick and Marco Bellinelli may become too expensive/disposable in the Sixers effort to reel in Lebron, Paul George or possibly Kawhi Leonard. I believe Philly’s dream scenario is to draft another local product in Villanova star Mikal Bridges, followed by Michigan State’s talented scoring wing Miles Bridges. Lonnie likely sits 3rd or 4th on that list depending on how Philly values Wendell Carter.

11. Charlotte Hornets

Lonnie recently worked out in Buzz City, and the Hornets could be interested based on the answer to this question: Are the Hornets starting a rebuild or trying to contend with the team they have now? If the Hornets are planning on moving Dwight Howard and Kemba Walker in efforts to rebuild, I don’t think Lonnie fits into what they’re doing in Charlotte. They would likely seek out a player with a more diverse offensive skill set, such as Miles Bridges or Kentucky’s Kevin Knox or Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. If the Hornets would like to try and make another run with the roster they have, Lonnie would fit in well as a 3 and D wing that doesn’t need the ball in his hands. The Hornets need a strong defender alongside Kemba Walker in their backcourt, and Charlotte needs more shooters on the floor to compete in the modern NBA.

12 & 13: Los Angeles Clippers

The Clippers have already started their rebuild, and if they only had one pick here, I wouldn’t predict Lonnie falling here. But with 2 picks the Clippers can go a variety of ways (including Lonnie). LA will likely pick the best available player at 12 and then get more specific at 13. 3 and D players are extremely valuable in today’s NBA, so that puts Lonnie in contention to land in the city of angels.

14: Denver Nuggets

The Nuggets have some valuable pieces that they would like to build around, but at the same point they will be looking to make some sound business decisions. Wilson Chandler is getting older and will likely draw more money than the Nuggets want to commit to. Denver will hope to draft a scoring wing replacement or a dynamic point guard. Along with Lonnie, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Kevin Knox, or Zhaire Smith (Texas Tech) could end up in Denver unless one of the Bridges fall.

15. Washington Wizards

This may be the most common landing spot for Lonnie according to mock drafts. He fits a similar mold to Bradey Beal, so having Lonnie available to back up Beal and Otto Porter could be what the Wizards have in mind. Along with other wings, the Wizards may be drawn to a talented big man like Robert Williams (Texas A&M).

16. Phoenix Suns

If Lonnie starts to tumble down the board on Draft Night, he could very well end up in the Arizona dry heat. Phoenix owns the first overall pick, which many believe will be Deandre Ayton. The talented Arizona-product will need the ball in his hands in addition to the Suns’ alpha dog Devin Booker, so adding a supplemental wing piece with outside shooting talent could be the play here.

Do you think Lonnie Walker IV will be drafted by his hometown Philadelphia 76ers? Where else do you think he’ll end up? Let us know in the comments.