The Charlotte Hornets have started holding their pre-draft workouts in the last week or two. One of the more intriguing prospects that come through in one of those workouts is Jalen Slawson, forward out of Furman and the 44th ranked player on our big board.
Weight: 210 pounds
Defense, offensive awareness, role player potential
Slawson’s defense is what we’ll draw NBA teams to him. He’s 6’7″ and looks to have a good wingspan. He’s strong and plays with a very high motor. He averaged 2.0 steals and 2.0 blocks per 40 minutes as a senior and made some highlights plays in the process.
He’s able to wall of drivers and has the strength and effort level to battle with bigs in the post.
On the other end of the floor, Slawson made strides throughout his collegiate career to the point where he became the focal point of a Furman team that took down Virginia in the NCAA Tournament. He is a passable shooter, connecting on 39.4% of his threes and 77.5% of his free throws as a senior. His shot is somewhat mechanical and needs some space, but if it goes in, it goes in.
The more intriguing part of his offensive game is his ability to connect the offense. Furman ran a lot of their offense through him and let him play as a point forward at times. He averaged 4.5 assists per 40 minutes in his last three seasons and shows a lot of potential as a decision maker within the flow of the offense.
Slawson’s passing ability and defensive ability/effort make him and intriguing prospect, as noted in this Tweet.
It’s not hard to see Slawson as a role player that comes in, grinds on defense, and makes winning plays.
Scoring ability, ball handling, age
Jalen Slawson doesn’t look like he’ll be a difference-making offensive player at the next level. He’s not a natural shooter–his mechanics are somewhat labored and rigid–and he took a while to become a passable shooter from deep. He’s not going to threaten teams with jumpers off the dribble and doesn’t have a very transferrable game when it comes to offensive creation. He’s reliant on bully-ball drives to the basket and is mostly limited to attacking in a straight line. The lack of shot creation and ball handling puts a little bit of a cap on his passing and makes it so that he’ll be reliant on others to generate offense while he’ll be more of a connector out of certain actions.
Slawson will turn 24 shortly after the start of the 2023-24 NBA season, so it seems he’s pretty close to a finished product. Given the lack of refinement to his offensive game after five collegiate seasons (with four seasons as a starter), it’s not likely there’s a big jump coming. Teams won’t be expecting anything more than a role player at best.
Jalen Slawson is an interesting combination of defensive ability with offensive IQ. We’ve seen a lot of players carve out nice niches in that kind of role like the two mentioned above as well as guys like the Hornets own Cody Martin or the Warriors Draymond Green, who is the pinnacle of that archetype.
The Hornets have three picks in the top half of the second round and have three two-way slots to play with this year. Slawson could be a candidate for one of those picks.