The first-round Charlotte Hornets draft pick is a valuable one. The No. 2 pick in the 2023 NBA Draft can bring a franchise player to town, but the team doesn’t necessarily have to make the pick for that to happen. A Hornets trade could do the same thing, and with where the organization is at right now, trading for New Orleans Pelicans star Zion Williamson makes a ton of sense.

3. Zion Williamson needs a change of scenery

Coming out of Duke, Zion Williamson was one of the most exciting NBA draft prospects in the last 20 years. Unfortunately, things haven’t worked out great for Zion down in New Orleans thus far.

When Williamson plays, he generally plays well. For his career, the forward is averaging 25.8 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 3.6 assists per game. The problem is, he’s only played in 114 games in four seasons, including just 29 games in the last two campaigns.

And whether it’s the New Orleans nightlife, the food, the organization, or the other drama that is happening in the Big Easy, Williamson hasn’t made the most of his time with the Pelicans. He needs a change of scenery, and the sooner the better.

It is now clear that both Williamson and the Pelicans need to move on, and it seems certain that the franchise will trade the player this offseason.

Since (potential) superstars don’t become available all that often — especially at 22 — and a trade seems inevitable, it makes sense for the Hornets to get involved when they have a monster asset like the No. 2 pick.

2. The Hornets aren’t drafting the second-best player anyway

The Hornets have LaMelo Ball, and despite his own tough injury history (74 games missed in three seasons), he is the franchise player.

That means that with the No. 2 pick in the 2023 Hornets draft, the team is likely taking Alabama forward Brandon Miller. Nothing against Miller, but he is not the second-best prospect in this NBA draft.

That honor goes to G League Ignite point guard Scoot Henderson.

Henderson is a franchise floor general who can score and create for his teammates. The problem is, that is exactly the type of player Ball is. If the Hornets do draft at No. 2, taking Miller makes sense. However, if you’re not taking the best player anyway, why not trade the pick for the top overall prospect of the 2019 draft?

Taking a forward to pair with Ball is a good decision, but Williamson has more upside than Miller and can for sure play in the NBA when healthy. Trading for the established player makes the Hornets a playoff team now instead of in a year or two, which is likely the best they can hope for with Miller.

Pairing Ball and Williamson is a risk with their health concerns. But if when they do get on the court together, it will be incredible.

1. LaMelo Ball and Zion Williamson would be electric

The simple fact of the matter is that Zion Williamson and LaMelo Ball are two of the most athletic, explosive, and fun young players in the NBA. Injuries aside, when these two are at their best, there aren’t any other players exactly like them.

Putting the two of them together on the court in Charlotte would be magical.

Ball’s best season came in 2021-22 when he played with an athletic forward in Miles Bridges, and the team finished 43-39, making the play-in tournament. Bridges missed all of last season following a disturbing felony domestic violence incident, but that is now resolved, and Bridges can come back next season and serve just 10 more games of a 30-game suspension.

One of Williamson’s biggest issues with the Pelicans is that he’s never played with a high-end, play-making point guard. Give him someone like that (Ball), and the results could be incredible. Becoming a 30-plus-points-per-game scorer would not be out of the question.

The Hornets' roster was a mess last season without Bridges and Ball. Getting them back and adding Williamson would make the team one of the fastest and most explosive lineups in the league. And that is how the Hornets become a playoff team in 2023-24.

The No. 2 overall pick in the NBA draft is great. It lets a franchise have hope for the future and even one day maybe become contenders. That said, a Hornets trade for Zion Williamson makes Charlotte a playoff team now and possibly a serious contender in the Eastern Conference if he and Ball stay healthy and Bridges returns to form.

That’s the biggest reason why the Hornets need to trade their pick this year for Zion.