2023 NBA Draft: Michael Jordan’s Hornets land Nigeria’s James Nnaji

2023 NBA Draft: Michael Jordan’s Hornets land Nigeria’s James Nnaji

by Agence France-Presse
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Following the completion of the 2023 National Basketball Association (NBA) draft, Charlotte Hornets have acquired Nigeria’s James Nnaji.

The former Barcelona player was initially drafted by the Detroit Pistons but traded to the Boston Celtics and then to the Charlotte Hornets.

The 18-year-old Nnaji, born in Benue State was the only Nigerian in the draft.

He was also the second-youngest player in the draft and was drafted first in the second round (31st overall).

“The Hornets selected Xavier guard Colby Jones and Washington State forward Mouhamed Gueye with the 34th and 39th picks, respectively, and agreed in principle to trade the draft rights to those players to the Boston Celtics as part of a trade with Boston to be finalized later in which the Hornets will acquire the draft rights to James Nnaji, the 31st pick,” Hornets stated on Friday.

A 6-10 center, Nnaji spent the past two seasons playing for FC Barcelona in the Spanish ACB league and EuroLeague.

In 2022-23, he saw action in 27 games, averaging 4.9 points and 3.0 rebounds in 12.2 minutes per game, while shooting 67.1% from the field.

The Hornets compete in the NBA as a member of the league’s Eastern Conference Southeast Division and are mainly owned by Basketball Hall of Famer Michael Jordan, who acquired a controlling interest in the team in 2010.

According to NBA’s draft note, Nnaji has excellent movement skills for a player his size and is especially impressive with how he slides his feet and defends in space. He also shows great body control on his spin moves and is nimble for feet for a player his size (he’s listed at 225 lbs but I’m sure he weighs a lot more than that).

That draft note added that on the offensive end, Nnaji mostly scores in the most and is an impressive leaper and dunker who finishes with power. He’s got a knack for getting open off the pick-and-roll and is a great finisher.

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