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How James Nnaji Went From Makurdi To NBA’s Charlotte Hornets

June 28, 2023










On June 22, 2023, 18-year old Makurdi born Nigerian basketball player James Nnaji was drafted as pick number 31 for Detroit Pistons of the National Basketball Association (NBA). He was then traded to Michael Jordan’s Charlotte Hornets.

Born on 14, August, 2004, Nnaji started his inspiring basketball journey in Makurdi the capital city of Benue State and took a turn for the best when his camp highlights from a Facebook post went viral.

His immense and raw talent was immediately spotted by the Ratgeber Basketball Academy in Hungary and from there his journey has been awe-inspiring.

Here’s the NBA’s analysis and projection for Nnaji:

Across 43 total contests, Nnaji averaged 3.5 points, 2.3 rebounds and 0.5 blocks in 8.7 minutes per game. His 39 blocks in 284 minutes played equates to one block every 7.3 minutes, which is a prodigious rate. On offense, Nnaji profiles as a screener and paint-dwelling big. On defense, his agility pops, bringing rim protection and versatile, switchable upside.

Nnaji is raw. When drafted, he’ll have been playing basketball for only seven years, and his minutes in the EuroLeague were quite limited. But he has the size and instincts that create a quality foundation as a prospect. Success for Nnaji could be defined as landing a consistent backup center role as a rookie. He has similarities to paint-dominant big men like Clint Capela and Mitchell Robinson.


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