Once projected as a top five pick, Noah Vonleh represented the biggest slide at the top of the draft, until he was eventually rescued by the rebranded Charlotte Hornets. Vonleh played his only year of college ball at Indiana, but didn’t really set the world on fire, failing to take the Hoosiers into the tournament. What he did show, however, was a great amount of athletic upside, considering he is yet to turn 19 years old.
Vonleh was the starting power forward for Indiana and played just 27 minutes a game, putting up decent, but unspectacular numbers.
There’s a lot of room for growth in those numbers, with the rebounding being particularly encouraging. What is also good to see is that he was a decent free throw shooter and also showed some ability to get out and hit the three. If he can work that into his game more, maybe up to 1.0 three-pointer a game, his fantasy value will rise astronomically.
How does he fit in Charlotte? Unfortunately, that’s a little bit unclear. Last season, Charlotte got a surprising season out of Josh McRoberts, who started all season at the four, hitting a lot of threes and giving his team a ton of offensive creativity, averaging 4.3 dimes per game. McRoberts is now an unrestricted free agent, but there have been a lot of whispers stating that Charlotte wants to bring him back. Roadblock number one for Vonleh.
Roadblock number two resides in last season’s number four overall pick, Cody Zeller. Much like Sacramento with the pick before, Charlotte chose a player in the same position as they had a year earlier. Zeller didn’t have a great rookie season and was unable to unseat McRoberts, but still showed flashes of potential in his 17 minutes a game. The big question is where does this leave Vonleh. If we assume McRoberts moves on (and that isn’t a certainty), I’d say Zeller will be given the first shot at the starting job and will look toward 30 minutes a night. Zeller can play some centre, so some of his minutes will be backing up Al Jefferson, leaving about 22 minutes for Vonleh to play the four. That’s the number I’ll use to project what we can expect from Vonleh next season.
Hardly the most appealing numbers, am I right? Vonleh would project as a top 180 player, so a target for 14 team leagues. If news comes out that he has won the starting job, he will bump up to a standard league level player, but for now, with Zeller assumed to be the starter, Vonleh can be reserved for deep leagues and dynasty formats.