Odds are in on Hornets’ chances for No. 1 pick in NBA Draft. Who could they select?

It’s already making the rounds.

Long before the Charlotte Hornets’ season wrapped up, triggering the next phase of the team’s seemingly yearly reconstruction, the jokes were flowing on social media and via word of mouth. With the 2024 NBA Draft class being widely labeled as one of the worst in recent memory — and the type that could get someone fired in a couple of years for picking the wrong player — as one league executive told The Observer, many assume this will be the year.

As in when the Hornets finally land the No. 1 selection.

Most times, with the latest example coming last year when they were runner-up to San Antonio in the Victor Wembanyama sweepstakes, the Hornets get the short end of the draft lottery draw. Just bring up two words — Anthony Davis — and it still stings to this day.

That’s why an uncomfortable chuckle emanates from the mouths of many Charlotte fans when discussing the possibility of what could happen in Chicago on May 12. It’s when the Hornets, who formally won a tiebreaker with Portland on Monday, will find out exactly where they will pick in the draft on June 26. They have a 13.3% chance of winning the lottery, which is third-best behind the 14% of Detroit and Washington.

At least they know one thing: they won’t pick anywhere below seventh. That’s as far as they can fall in the 14-team race for No. 1, which certainly lacks the typical excitement that usually surrounds the unveiling on national television.

Here’s a look at five players the Hornets could select in the draft depending on where they wind up in the final pecking order. They’re listed alphabetically.

Stephon Castle, Connecticut, SF, 6-6

Coming from championship stock never hurts and that’s exactly what he brings to the table. He helped the Huskies’ during their 37-win run en route to cutting down the nets at the Final Four in Arizona earlier this month.

Defense is his specialty and that capability to blossom into a 3-and-D player — as in someone who shoots well beyond the arc and also guards more than one position well — has prospective employers drooling at his potential. During his 32 appearances in his freshman campaign, he averaged 10.7 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.9 assists, draining 47% of his attempts and 26.2% from 3-point range.

Although he needs polishing offensively, he’s a shot creator and a playmaker, making him a possible threat in various positions on the floor.

Ron Holland, G League Ignite, SF, 6-7

Initially projected as the No. 1 pick months ago, he spent this past season fine-tuning his game after decommitting from the Texas Longhorns last spring. In averaging 19.5 points, 6.6 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 2.3 steals, he showed his versatility before rupturing a tendon in his right thumb in February, ending his season prematurely.

Team Giraffe Stars forward Ron Holland (0) of the G League Ignite leaps for the net against Team BallIsLife during the G-League Next Up game at Indiana Convention Center.
Team Giraffe Stars forward Ron Holland (0) of the G League Ignite leaps for the net against Team BallIsLife during the G-League Next Up game at Indiana Convention Center.

But he still finished as the second-leading scorer in the Ignite’s four-year history.

Shooting, however, is an area he has to improve dramatically and his ball-handling skills supposedly aren’t great. Strength could also be an issue, and he’ll have to get in the weight room to bulk up and address it so he can handle some of the bigger players on the perimeter instead of getting bowled over.

Zaccharie Risacher, France, SF, 6-9

Considered the best wing in this class, he’s been a steady riser up the board and some pundits have him being selected No. 1 overall. NBA coaches and executives really value players at his position, and are especially enamored with those at his size who can shoot.

And that’s supposed to be one of Risacher’s specialties. He averaged 10.5 points, 3.3 rebounds, 0.9 assists and 0.9 steals in 51 games across all leagues, shooting 46.3% from the floor and 39.1% behind the arc.

Defensively, although he is said to have the ability to defend either guard position along with small forward, the word is he’s not overly adept and could be susceptible to getting beat off the dribble by quicker opponents. One of the knocks is he’s not great at creating his own shot or being a playmaker and he doesn’t boast explosiveness.

But he does have basketball in his genes. His father, Stephane, is a former EuroLeague player and also a former Olympian.

Alex Sarr, France, C, 7-1

An above-the-rim threat, he most recently played in Australia, honing his skills with Perth. He was a factor in his team reaching the National Basketball League’s semifinals, posting 9.4 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.5 blocks, averaging 17 minutes per game.

He has a wingspan that nearly stretches 7-foot-5 and the scouting report suggests he plays more on the perimeter than interior, using face ups and his speed to try to get past defenders. Although his 3-pointer needs work and he shot just shy of 30% this past season.

At the G League fall showcase in Las Vegas, he more than held his own during his team’s matchup with the G League Ignite, putting up 21.5 points, 8.5 rebounds and 6.0 blocks per game during their pair of matchups. Some of the early comparisons peg him along the lines of Memphis’ Jaren Jackson Jr., Orlando’s Jonathan Isaac and Dallas’ Dereck Lively. That’s not bad company.

Nikola Topic, Serbia, PG, 6-6

The son of Milenko Topic, a former head coach and gold medallist for Yugoslavia who also played professionally, he’s a combo guard with solid use of both hands. He’s a facilitator and does most of his damage using his vision, kind of like in the mold of his fellow countrymen currently on the Hornets — Vasilije Micić.

In his 13 outings in Adriatic League games, he averaged 18.6 points, 6.9 assists, and 0.9 assists, connecting on 52.4% of his overall shots and nailing just 28.2% behind the 3-point line. He’s not overly explosive, but has a knack for getting into the paint and finishing around the rim.

One concern: turnovers. He averaged 3.1 per game and that’s not going to consistently get it done on this side of the pond against the world’s best.