While the 2011 NBA Draft was very important for the Charlotte Hornets due to one player, another player they selected could have built the foundation for a very competitive team.
You know what they say about hindsight and it could not be any truer in the world of sports. Nearly every single team, professional or otherwise, has made a decision that looked good at the time, but ultimately backfired on them. Most Charlotte Hornets fans have become accustomed to this sad fact over the past two decades.
The 2012 NBA Draft is probably the most recognized example of good intentions going bad in recent years for the club, but looking back, the 2011 NBA Draft isn’t too far behind. You’re probably asking how that is given who the then-Bobcats drafted with the ninth overall pick.
Kemba Walker needs absolutely no introduction if you’re reading this and he may go down as the most important draft pick in team history. But, there was another player the team drafted that night who could have been part of one of the best duos the team has ever seen.
It can be painful to wonder what might have been in the world of sports. That especially rings true if you’re a Charlotte Hornets fan.
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That player, of course, being Tobias Harris. Ten picks after selecting the greatest Hornet of all-time, Charlotte selected the 6’8″ forward 19th out of Tennessee. Unfortunately, Harris was involved in a draft-night trade with the Milwaukee Bucks and Sacramento Kings, that would eventually land the Bobcats the seventh pick, Bismack Biyombo, and Corey Maggette.
You know how Biz has been and Maggette was serviceable in his one year in Charlotte. Harris, on the other hand, has been a very dependable NBA forward. Although he’s averaged just under 16 points and 6 rebounds per game for his career, over the past few seasons, he’s blossomed, averaging just under 20 points a game and 6 rebounds per contest while playing for the Detroit Pistons, Los Angeles Clippers, and Philadelphia 76ers.
Shooting a career 36% from three, he’s developed a decent outside game that at the small forward or power forward position, would have complimented Kemba’s slashing mentality, as the guard would have been able to kick out from the paint to find an open Harris.
He’s never been an outright star and hasn’t made an All-Star appearance in his 9-year career, but he’s been on the cusp of making an All-Star game for the last two or three years. His numbers aren’t outstanding, of course, but had the Bobcats/Hornets kept him alongside Kemba Walker, they might have developed into a nice one-two-punch over time.
Even more enticing to think about, had the two been teamed up alongside Al Jefferson when he was in Charlotte, that trio could have easily been a top-four team in the Eastern Conference. Sure, Kemba had some nice running mates during his time in Charlotte, but a duo of Harris and Walker could have been a potent combination working together over the years.
Alas, we’ll never know what it would have been like to see the two together, but the 2011 NBA Draft had the potential to be one of the best the franchise has known to this date. It really sums up what a poor job the organization has done at surmising and gauging talent in the draft over the last two or so decades.
It’s a new decade, though, so that could all possibly change if we Charlotte Hornets fans are lucky. If it does, that’s wonderful, if not, then we’ll still be wondering what could have been had that draft-night trade not transpired.