Hood shows Hornets he's no one-trick pony

Jun. 24, 2014 @ 05:48 PM

Given a second chance, Rodney Hood made a favorable impression on the Charlotte Hornets’ brass — including owner Michael Jordan — on Tuesday.

The former Duke star, whose workout for Charlotte was cut short last week due to what he called a stomach virus, returned to the Hornets’ practice facility two days before the NBA Draft. The Hornets own the Nos. 9 and 24 picks in the first round.

“He played well today,” Hornets coach Steve Clifford said during a meeting with reporters following the workout. “It was a good matchup and it was intense. He did a lot of things. He hit mid-range jumpers, he drove the ball to the basket and he rebounded well. It was 3 on 3 but he went and got the ball. He’s a versatile player.”

The 6-8 Hood, a 42 percent 3-point shooter who averaged 16.1 points during his lone season at Duke, has improved his draft stock such that he is expected to be picked anywhere from as high as No. 8 (Sacramento) to the middle of the first round.

Tuesday was his 11th workout for NBA teams. Charlotte and Phoenix brought him back twice.

His aim has been to show that while he’s an excellent shooter, he has more to his game.

“That I’ve got different parts to my game that I can score the ball and that I’m not just a shooter,” Hood told reporters on Tuesday. “Today, we did a lot in the post and the mid-post. Of course, I know I can shoot the ball. But I wanted to put the ball on the floor and defend. I think I did a good job today.”

Clifford agreed, adding that Hood’s left-handedness is also a plus.

“I would say yes because the higher level you play, contesting shots is such a big deal,” Clifford said. “Being left-handed, obviously you’re going to contest with your other hand which is not a normal habit for good defenders. I think it is an advantage.”

Hood said the stomach bug that afflicted him last week was unrelated to the bouts of vomiting that plagued him a half-dozen times for Duke last season. Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said Hood’s intensity led to those issues, which caused him to temporarily leave games.

But Hood said Tuesday that issue is under control.

“I haven’t had any problems like that,” Hood said. “I’m just watching what I eat.”

Even having Jordan in the house didn’t rattle Hood, who started his career at Mississippi State before transferring to Duke in 2012 and sitting out one season.

“Nah. It’s just basketball,” Hood said. “He’s a laid-back guy. It didn’t add anything. It didn’t take away anything. It’s just a basketball workout.”

Hood said the Hornets have shown a great deal of interest in him, from an interview at the NBA Combine in Chicago to his two visits to Charlotte.

“They knew a lot about me going back to Mississippi State,” Hood said. “ We had a good meeting in Chicago and a good workout here. I’m sure they saw me play every game this season.”

Now Hood heads to New York City, where he’ll take part in pre-draft festivities on Wednesday and will be in the NBA’s green room as an invited guest along with other top prospects for Thursday night’s draft at Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn.

“It’s going to be great,” said Hood, who grew up in Meridian, Miss.” A small-town kid getting a chance to go to New York and experience a dream. It doesn’t matter where I get picked or how high I go, I just want to hear my name get called.”

 

HORNETS’ CLIFFORD: WE NEED TO GET BIGGER TO GET BETTER

BY STEVE REED, Associated Press

CHARLOTTE — Steve Clifford says the Hornets need to get bigger before they get better.

Charlotte’s second-year coach expects the team to address its lack of height in the NBA draft Thursday night or in free agency next month. The Hornets own the ninth, 24th and 45th overall picks and have more than $16 million available to spend under the salary cap.

“Size across the board is always a key thing at every position,” Clifford said. “When you get into the matchups of the playoffs, size is a big deal.”

Charlotte reached the playoffs last season but was swept by Miami in the first round.

The team’s top two players are 6-foot-10 center Al Jefferson and 6-foot point guard Kemba Walker — but both are considered undersized for their positions. So are 6-foot-5 shooting guard Gerald Henderson and 6-foot-7 small forward Michael-Kidd-Gilchrist.

“We are small,” Clifford said. “We aren’t terribly small but, we are small.”

Hornets owner Michael Jordan took in the last of Charlotte’s rookie workouts on Tuesday at the team’s downtown arena, but the club stated ultimately general manager Rich Cho will have final say in all personnel decisions.

Charlotte acquired the No. 9 pick in the draft from Detroit after the Pistons fell out of the top eight in the NBA draft lottery, leaving the pick unprotected.

It was a rare break for Charlotte when it comes to the lottery.

In 2012, Charlotte was coming off the worst winning percentage in NBA history after finishing 7-59. But when it was announced the No. 1 pick went to the New Orleans Pelicans, Cho looked like a man who had just been kicked in the stomach.

It was a bitter disappointment.

It meant Charlotte losing out on a chance to get franchise center Anthony Davis.

Charlotte would settle for Kidd-Gilchrist, Davis’ college teammate from Kentucky. He’s been a two-year starter, but hasn’t had nearly the impact Davis has had in the NBA.

Bad luck struck again last summer.

After finishing with the second-worst record in the league, Charlotte wound up falling to fourth in the draft order in the lottery. They drafted power forward Cody Zeller, who showed improvement as the season progressed but remained a reserve behind Josh McRoberts.

Charlotte has had eight lottery picks since Jordan bought partial ownership of the team in 2006 — he became primary owner in 2010. While that group has produced three starters — Walker, Henderson and Kidd-Gilchrist — it hasn’t produced any All-Stars or a franchise player to build around.

Although this is considered a talent-rich draft, Clifford is approaching it with tempered enthusiasm.

He said while there are some exceptions, overall it is rare when a rookie steps into the league and makes an immediate impact.

“Look at the last few years — how many guys have you seen?” Clifford said. “I don’t think it’s fair for any of these guys to say that they’re going to be able to come right to an NBA team and make a major impact. I haven’t seen it much in 14 years. Guys might put up numbers and play a small role but, I don’t think it’s fair to do that.”

Charlotte would love to have a powerful 7-footer to pair with Jefferson down low, but that type of player doesn’t seem to exist unless Kansas’ Joel Embiid were to make a dramatic fall to No. 9.

Charlotte could look to add height — and some needed shooting — at other positions instead. Michigan’s 6-foot-6 shooting guard Nik Stauskas and Creighton’s 6-foot-8 small forward Doug McDermott are two players who’d make a lot of sense for the Hornets since they’d fill both needs.

Clifford said along with shooting, the Hornets need to add a backup point guard and acquire more depth in the frontcourt.