Bobcats Draft Picks

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Wow.  What a draft?  For a “weak” draft, there was a lot of hype, a lot of interest, a lot of movement, just a lot.  I’m somewhat buzzing still, updating Twitter over and over, I’ve added probably 25 people to the people I follow on twitter on the night of the draft and since.  I have been dying for info and got it in piles.  The Bobcats made a serious trade early in the day, relative to the actual draft and to other trades that took place.  This draft was the highest watched in something like 15 years and then, they had to crush our dreams the day after when the collective bargaining session, despite some exceptional wardrobe coordination, didn’t go so well.  No bother.  I’ll just pretend like there will be camps over the next few months, followed by summer league and training camp in Wilmington and then the Bobcats will break the Bulls record for wins in a regular season, win the championship and still get the #1 overall pick next year.  That’s what will happen, it will, it will, it will….there’s no place like home, there’s no place like home.

Too bad I’m more Wicked Witch of the East than Dorthy and if I think if I think of the CBA anymore, a house might actually fall on me.  So let’s just look at the draft, the picks the Bobcats made and the trade.

When you woke up Thursday morning and if someone said “Name one Bobcats player,” I bet 9 out of 10 people would say “Stephen Jackson.”  Well by about 3 pm, that was no longer the case.  There were rumors that the Bobcats were in major discussions with Milwaukee then before you knew it, there was a 3 way trade in place.  The involved parties were Charlotte, Milwaukee and Sacramento.  By now you know the details.  Sacramento got John Salmons and the number 10 pick from Milwaukee.  The number 10 pick became Jimmer Fredette.  Milwaukee took the Number 7 pick back from Sacramento along with Beno Udrih, next they flipped the #7 to Charlotte along with Corey Maggette in exchange for Stephen Jackson, Shaun Livingston and the number 19 pick.  The number 7 pick became Bismack Biyombo and the number 19 pick became Tobias Harris.

Some very large names there.  I loved the trade from the beginning.  It seems odd of say goodbye to Stephen Jackson so quickly and easily, but I think the bigger picture demands that reaction.  When the Bobcats reached their peak over a year ago, with a first round sweep out, no picks in that draft and little to go off of the next year, I think the most competitive man in the history of the world took a look at things and said “This is not where I want to be.”  The next series of events can’t be seen as ineptitiude, cheap ownership, blatant absenteeism or any other of the hundreds of insults lobbed at the organization from every corner.  You can’t say that it was any thing other than methodical, thought-out franchise building from that point until now.  Larry Brown came in on his white horse after that Sam Vincent year and took the Bobcats to where the franchise and fans wanted to be.  The ownership changed in that process as well.  It was a constant churn and it ended up, as I said, with the peak being a 4 consecutive loss series to the Orlando Magic.

So, in order, they let Raymond Felton walk, without incident and without even an offer, they just said “You are worth more than we can pay, enjoy your career, elsewhere.”  Sadly, that left Ray just as twisting in the wind as the Bobcats have been, being sent on draft day to his third team in a year, fourth if you count the Bobcats.  Then they completed a trade for as fans have deemed it “Dust.”  Sending Tyson Chandler to the Mavericks along with Larry Brown’s own personal bust, Alexis Ajinca; in return the Bobcats took Erick Dampier and as an unguaranteed contract along with Matt Carroll and Eduardo Najera.  Dampier was Dust.  That big fat contract was either to be shipped out for some actual players or just torn up and that contract would become cap-space.  The season got off to a bad, bad start under Larry Brown.  He saw these manuvers as undermining him or handcuffing him in a “I can’t win with this roster” sort of way so he bad mouthed everybody until, instead of getting his way, Michael Jordan asked if they could part ways.

Paul Silas came in, opened things up, let the young guys flourish, and the Bobcats bounced back.  Then the trade deadline came about.  The rumors bounced around like popcorn under the Jiffy Pop foil and then finally, yes, Gerald Wallace was out.  This was huge.  Absolutely huge.  The Bobcats were saying to the world “This is not it.  We aren’t going to be 7 or 8 in the East every year until this guy retires.”  They shipped Wallace out for expiring contracts and 2 draft picks.  You can say they got Dante Cunningham, but he may not be offered that QO, remains to be seen, but he’s a young cheap piece rather than a $10 million/year fringe All-Star.  Sorry but it’s true, and Gerald knows now that he’s not made to be “THE MAN” on a good NBA team, he can be the 3rd or 4th guy on a really good team or THE guy on a pretty bad team that has up and down years.  Then in a lesser move, the Bobcats went out and got DJ White.  That’s all you can say about that Nazr Mohammed trade, they wanted DJ White, so they got him.

So they muddle on through the final games and miss the playoffs, mostly because of injuries but partly because you’re relying on Stephen Jackson to lead your team.  Now, I love Stephen Jackson.  I’ve loved the dude since he landed in Charlotte.  Bad reputation be damned, dude is a for real dude, and a strong player in the NBA, has been and will be for years to come.  However, he is not a team leader.  You don’t want him leading a group of promising young impressionable players.  The reputation is there for a reason, and while I love him, players love him, he did lead well, he will not lead you to the promised land.  His hamstring failed him, first soft tissue injury of his career, but he struggled through.  He would yell at refs, the technical was always just a step away, just like 2 words away from the tip of any game for Jack.  It’d be like working for a hot headed boss that happened to be an incredible salesman.  You’d have success, but you’d be going nuts and he’d likely burn bridges and limit your potential.

So, draft night.  The way it played out seems to be more of this rebuilding.  Why not take this thing down to the foundation?  Why not?  If you’re going to start over, start at the bottom.  So, they traded Jack.  They traded Jack for the oportunity of moving up to #7, while retaining #9 and for the express purpose of getting Bismack Biyombo.  What they took back was somewhat brilliant to me anyway.  Corey Maggette is no slouch player.  He’s not at Stephen Jackson’s level but if you look at his stats, he might be if given the chance.

Over their careers, Maggette has averaged 16.2 points per game, Jack, 16.3.  Maggette has twice been over 22 points per game for a season, Jackson has topped out at 20.7.  In the per 36 minutes metric, you see that Jackson is good for 17.5 over his career, Maggette, 20.5.  Its’ about usage and efficiency and I see in those small samples, that Maggette might be just as good as Jack.

The part I didn’t like about the trade was tossing in Shaun Livingston just for fun.  Then again, with Livingston out, replacing him with a rookie-scale contract (assuming those will exist under the new CBA) the Bobcats save $3 million next year, according to whatever I heard in passing that seems to make sense.  Liv was great last year, really helpful in certain end of game situations and other big moments in games.  You always have to worry about his knee and stuff like that though and the savings versus what the Bobcats were getting back?  Ehh, I’d have done it too.

Now to the picks.  It’s really interesting that the Bobcats brought Bismack Biyombo in at the last minute Wednesday before the draft.  I thought, “Maybe they’re just looking at him in case he slips to them at 9, you have to know what the kid is all about if they’re talking about him ‘slipping’ to 9.”  But it turns out, from reports after the draft and from Rich Cho’s own mouth at the press conferences, he was a target for him.  He sold the room, MJ, Paul Silas, Rod Higgins, everybody on Bismack.  He was one of those first few GM’s back when he was with Portland to look at Bismack and say “Alright, this guy has a shot.”  He played in the Nike Hoops Summit at the Rose Garden, near Nike’s campus outside of Portland.  That was his big coming out party and Rich had front row tickets.

When I heard the rumors of the Bobcats wanting to move all the way up to #4 for Tristan Thompson, then Thompson going at #4 to Cleveland, I was confused.  When the trade went through and they moved up to #7, I was intrigued.  I figured it would be Kawhi Leonard or Kemba Walker at #7 and then Biyombo or Chris Singleton at #9, I mean that’s what I told Nic when he said “What the hell are we doing” in a good way, not a “What the hell are we doing” like in the Sam Vincent/Rod Higgins baby years.  Turned out Kawhi dropped all the way to #15 and then was traded to San Antonio and it was Biyombo they were going after.  I have a feeling Kemba was a “best available, can’t believe he’s where we’re picking,” guy.  Although, several people had him high on the Bobcats list.  He even said that after his workout he thought it was a good fit and really felt comfortable in Charlotte and with the coaching staff.

The final pick at #39, the Bobcats took Jeremy Tyler, which I was really intrigued by.  But then he was sold to, sorry, that sounds like slavery, he was “traded for cash considerations,” to Golden State.  $2 million dollars for the #39 pick in a “weak” draft is pretty serious coin.

So if you look at it, the Bobcats took Stephen Jackson, Shaun Livingston, the numbers 9, 19 and 39 pick and turned them into Bismack Biyombo, Kemba Walker, Corey Maggette and $5 million dollars.  As for hype, promise, upside and talent, I think the Bobcats really won this draft.  I really do, and that’s not just my blind appreciation and acceptance of all things the new front office is doing.  I didn’t like the thought of taking a super raw guy and hoping for the best, until I saw the big picture.  When you were looking at things from the perspective of “The Bobcats better not suck next year, I can’t take any more down years,” yeah, those trades and all that I spelled out before are really damning for your fanhood.  But if you look big-picture, long term and upside, potential and all that stuff that the “Own Tomorrow” motto brings with it, you can’t help but be excited to see what might happen.  It’s not even a what will happen.  It’s what might happen.  The mixture of unknown, potential, options and just the wide-open nature of the way this franchise looks right now, it’s truly a good time to be a Bobcats fan.