CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WTVD) -- The Charlotte Hornets took Alabama forward Brandon Miller with the No. 2 pick in Thursday night's NBA Draft, giving them an athletic wing with a smooth shooting stroke who can knock down shots from the perimeter. They then used the 27th pick of the first round to grab Arkansas guard Nick Smith Jr.
Smith had been projected as a potential top-five pick before a knee injury caused him to miss 19 games last season. Some observers said he might be the steal of the draft.
In the second round, the Hornets continued to build their roster by taking James Nnaji, a 6-foot-11 center from FC Barcelona at No. 31, and Xavier guard Colby Jones with the 34th overall pick. Five picks later, they took 6-10 forward Mouhamed Gueye from Washington State at 39th. The busy Hornets picked again at No. 41, taking UCLA guard Amari Bailey.
The Hornets chose Miller, the Southeastern Conference's player of the year as a freshman, over NBA G League Ignite star Scoot Henderson despite some potential character questions.
In general manager Mitch Kupchak's mind, there was never a debate.
"Brandon was our favorite all along," Kupchak said. "There was a lot of spirited discussion in the last three days, which I welcome. ... But I think he's the player that is the best player."
Miller is tied to a case that led to former Crimson Tide player Darius Miles and another man being indicted on capital murder charges. A police investigator testified in February that Miles texted Miller to bring him his gun that night. Miller hasn't been charged with wrongdoing, though the ongoing case brought intense scrutiny during the second half of the season for Miller and the Alabama program.
Kupchak said the Hornets conducted an extensive background check on Miller, including a trip to Alabama about two weeks ago.
"We are comfortable with Brandon on and off the court," Kupchak said.
Miller has said he can't discuss the case.
On much a lighter note, Miller made news last week when he said he considered Paul George his personal GOAT, or the greatest of all time.
He didn't back off that Thursday night even after being drafted by outgoing Hornets majority owner and six-time NBA champion Michael Jordan, considered by many the best player ever.
"I think I made it clear that Paul George is still my GOAT, but Mike is definitely up there when in his prime," Miller said with a laugh. "Mike does everything. We wear his shoes and he jumps from the free-throw line. But Paul George is my GOAT."
The Hornets targeted just two players leading up to the draft, and Kupchak said the team would take the best player available instead of selecting for need.
Still, Miller appears to be a much better immediate fit for Charlotte given the current makeup of the roster.
Veteran wing Gordon Hayward, who has struggled with injury issues, is in the final year of his contract with the Hornets and the team hasn't made a decision on whether to re-sign restricted free agent Miles Bridges, who missed all last season while dealing with a domestic violence case. Bridges will serve a 10-game suspension to start the season after pleading no contest last November and being sentenced to serve three years of probation.
Henderson, on the other hand, would have joined a crowded backcourt that includes LaMelo Ball and Terry Rozier.
Miller feels he should benefit from playing with Ball, who is an excellent ball distributor.
"Melo is my guy," Miller said. "I think with Melo, as good of a point guard as he is, I just kind of fill in the place (on the court). And I know he is going to be the big brother for me away from home."
The 20-year-old Miller is considered a much better shooter than Henderson, addressing an area of concern for Charlotte.
Miller gives the Hornets an athletic 6-foot-9 wing with a smooth shooting stroke who can knock down shots from the perimeter. He averaged 18.8 points and 8.2 rebounds per game last season for the Crimson Tide, who entered the NCAA tournament as the No. 1 overall seed before making an early exit.
The Hornets finished 29th in the league last season on 3-pointers at 33%. Miller shot 38.4% from beyond the arc at Alabama. Henderson shot just 27.5% from deep last season for the Ignite, although the 3-point line is deeper in the G League.
Miller has top-notch athleticism and should be able to defend multiple positions in the NBA with his size.
Miller joins a Hornets team that hasn't reached the postseason in an NBA-worst seven straight seasons and finished with the fourth-worst record in the league last season at 27-55. Charlotte managed to move up two spots in the lottery, barely missing out on the No. 1 pick and Victor Wembanyama.
The decision comes less than a week after six-time NBA champion Jordan announced he is selling his majority stake in the franchise to an ownership group led by Gabe Plotkin and Rick Schnall.
At the Spectrum Center in downtown Charlotte, the Hornets' decision to take Miller over Henderson was greeted with a mixed reaction by about 5,000 fans gathered for a draft party.
Before the pick, fans cheered loudly when Henderson was shown on the big screen.
MORE NBA DRAFT
NO SURPRISE AT NO. 1
It was a foregone conclusion the San Antonio Spurs would take France's Victor Wembanyama, who is considered a generational player, No. 1 overall. And that's exactly what the Spurs did.
Wembanyama is headed to San Antonio with enormous expectations to become basketball's newest sensation.
The selection of the 19-year-old from France was announced by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver on Thursday night at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, followed by chants of "Wemby! Wemby" from a group of Spurs fans waving signs from the first row of seats.
Wembanyama arrives with far more height and hype than most No. 1 picks. Listed at 7-foot-4, he dominated his French league in his final season there, leading all players in scoring, rebounding and blocked shots.
Now he makes the move to the NBA, perhaps as the best prospect since LeBron James came out of high school in 2003. Wembanyama brings a package of skills that seem perfect for the modern NBA and too vast for one player, with the size of a center and the shooting and ballhandling ability of a guard.
"Hearing that sentence from Adam Silver, I've dreamed of it so much," Wembanyama said, tears in his eyes as he left the stage with his Spurs cap on and hugged his siblings. "I've got to cry."
Wembanyama was the center of attention throughout the draft process and sat in the middle of the green room - for the short time he was there, anyway. He smiled for young fans who screamed "Victor!" as he walked around the arena, even encouraging one to throw him a basketball that he signed and tossed back up into the stands.
REST OF THE DRAFT
Jett Howard is officially following in his father's footsteps now. He was picked by the Orlando Magic on Thursday night, going 11th overall.
He's the son of NBA champion Juwan Howard, now the coach at Michigan. Jett Howard played for his dad this past season.
Juwan Howard was the No. 5 pick in the 1994 draft.
Victor Wembanyama was right. Bilal Coulibaly was a top-10 pick in the NBA draft.
Coulibaly was taken as the No. 7 pick on Thursday night; the pick was made by Indiana, amid reports that it is being sent to the Washington Wizards. Coulibaly spent this past season with Boulogne-Levallois of the French league - with Wembanyama on the same team.
Wembanyama, the No. 1 pick by San Antonio, lobbied that Coulibaly should be a top-5 pick.
The NBA draft just went twinning, and did so back to back.
Amen Thompson went No. 4 to Houston and his twin brother Ausar Thompson went No. 5 to Detroit. It's the first time twins went in the top 10 of the same NBA draft.
The brothers played for the Overtime Elite program this past season.
There are almost enough twins in the NBA right now for a full roster, now that Amen Thompson and Ausar Thompson got drafted Thursday night.
This past season, there was Brook Lopez and Robin Lopez, Marcus Morris and Markieff Morris, Caleb Martin and Cody Martin, along with Julian Champagnie and Justin Champagnie.
Kris Murray of Iowa is expected to be drafted Thursday as well; he's the twin of Sacramento Kings forward Keegan Murray.
Scoot Henderson believes he should have been the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft. He'll have to settle for being No. 3.
He was picked by the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday night, behind Victor Wembanyama by San Antonio and Brandon Miller by Alabama.
And now it's time to watch what longtime Portland star Damian Lillard does - and if the pick of another point guard will make him think about requesting a change of scenery.
Henderson spent the last two seasons with the G League Ignite, preparing for life in the NBA that way instead of going the traditional college route.
Cam Whitmore waited and waited and waited. And more than two hours after the NBA draft started, his name finally got called.
Whitmore went to Houston with the No. 20 pick Thursday night. He was projected as a lottery pick - even a top 10 pick - throughout much of the pre-draft process.
He averaged 12.5 points at Villanova in his lone college season and was the Big East's freshman of the year.
It took just over three hours and thankfully sped up a bit toward the end, but the first round of the NBA draft is complete.
The final pick: Missouri's Kobe Brown by the Los Angeles Clippers, right around 11:15 p.m. Eastern.
The NBA has invited 24 players to be in the green room at the draft Thursday night - typically a good indication that a team is showing first-round interest.
Those players, in alphabetical order: Anthony Black, Kobe Bufkin, Noah Clowney, Bilal Coulibaly, Gradey Dick, Keyonte George, Jordan Hawkins, Scoot Henderson, Taylor Hendricks, Jalen Hood-Schifino, Jett Howard, Jaime Jaquez Jr., Dereck Lively II, Brandon Miller, Brandin Podziemski, Olivier-Maxence Prosper, Rayan Rupert, Nick Smith Jr., Amen Thompson, Ausar Thompson, Jarace Walker, Cason Wallace, Victor Wembanyama and Cam Whitmore.
The Associated Press contributed.