Charlotte Selects Arnoldas Kulboka With No. 55 Overall Pick In 2018 NBA Draft
June 21, 2018 – The Charlotte Hornets acquired the draft rights to forward Miles Bridges (12th overall pick) and guard Devonte’ Graham (34th overall pick), while also selecting Lithuanian forward Arnoldas Kulboka with the 55th overall pick during tonight’s 2018 NBA Draft.
The Hornets acquired the rights to Bridges from the Los Angeles Clippers in exchange for the draft rights to guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (11th overall pick) and two future second-round draft picks, then acquired the rights to Graham from the Atlanta Hawks in exchange for second-round draft picks in 2019 and 2023.
Bridges, a 6-7 forward from Michigan State, was a unanimous 2017-18 All-Big Ten First Team selection and earned 2017-18 consensus Second Team All-American honors. He led the Spartans in scoring (17.0 ppg), ranked second in rebounding (7.0 rpg) and third in assists (2.7 apg) during his sophomore campaign and was a finalist for the Naismith National Player of the Year and Julius Erving Small Forward of the Year Awards. He was the first Michigan State freshman or sophomore player to average at least 17.0 points per game since Shawn Respert in 1992-93.
In 2016-17, the Flint, Michigan, native was the Big Ten Freshman of the Year after averaging 16.9 points, 8.3 rebounds and 2.1 assists in 28 contests. He was the only Division I freshman in the nation in the last 25 years to average at least 16.0 points, 8.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists and return for his sophomore season.
A 6-2 guard, Graham was the 2017-18 Big 12 Player of the Year and a consensus First Team All-American after averaging 17.3 points, 7.2 assists, 4.0 rebounds and 1.6 steals in 37.8 minutes in 39 games played as a senior at Kansas. He led the Big 12 and ranked ninth nationally in minutes played, ranked second in the Big 12 and sixth nationally in assists, ranked second in the Big 12 in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.6) and ranked third in the Big 12 in scoring. Graham also ranked fourth in the conference in three-point field goals per game (2.8), sixth in steals, seventh in free-throw percentage (.827) and ninth in three-point percentage (.406). The native of Raleigh, North Carolina, set school single-season records for total assists (282) and minutes played (1,474), and was a finalist for the Naismith Trophy, Wooden Award and Bob Cousy Point Guard of the Year Award after a season in which he was the only player in NCAA Division I to average at least 17.0 points, 7.0 assists and 1.6 steals with fewer than 3.0 turnovers per game.
Graham concluded his four-year career with the Jayhawks ranked second in school history in minutes played (4,498), second in three-point field goals (296), fifth in assists (632), seventh in steals (197), 11th in three-point percentage (.409) and 13th in scoring (1,750). During his four seasons, Kansas won four Big 12 regular-season titles and two Big 12 Tournaments and reached three NCAA Tournament Elite Eights and one Final Four.
A 6-9 forward from Lithuania, Kulboka averaged 8.3 points and 3.5 rebounds in 26.1 minutes in 29 games with Basket Orlandina in Italy’s Serie A league in 2017-18. He also played in 14 FIBA Champions League games for Basket Orlandina, earning Best Young Player honors after averaging 10.4 points and 5.6 rebounds in 29.1 minutes.
Kulboka won the three-point contest at both the 2017 adidas Eurocamp and 2015 Basketball Without Borders Europe camp. In February 2018, Kulboka made his debut with the Lithuanian National Team in the European 2019 FIBA World Cup Qualifiers after previously representing his country in the 2017 FIBA Under-19 World Cup, 2016 FIBA Europe Under-18 Championship, 2015 FIBA Europe Under-18 Championship and 2014 FIBA Europe Under-16 Championship.