Charlotte Bobcats 2009 NBA Draft Preview: Part 1

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State of the Roster & Team Needs

Starting Five

Heading into the 2009 NBA Draft, the Charlotte Bobcats find themselves in some pleasantly unfamiliar territory.  Not only does the team have a lot of proven NBA talent, they also have fewer question marks than ever before.  With the team very likely to re-sign PG Raymond Felton, the Bobcats will begin the ’09–’10 NBA season with last season’s starting lineup intact with all but Raja Bell entering their prime playing years.

The Charlotte Bobcats Reserves

The Bobcats second unit also brings back at least three quality regular rotation players – one of which, second-year point guard DJ Augustin, could start for a half-dozen teams in the League.

Alas, as good as it is in Bobcat-land this offseason, it’s still not perfect.  There are several major personnel questions that the team must address during the draft and free agency.

1. $104 million, 5 years, 3 players and 0 All-Stars

The Bobcats have committed a whopping $104+ million over the next five seasons at the center position alone.  This wouldn’t be such a nightmare if Yao Ming or Dwight Howard were patrolling the middle but the platoon of Emeka Okafor, Gana Diop and Nazr Mohammed hasn’t even a single All-Star selection amongst them (though Okafor may finally break through this season).
It’s nice to have depth in the middle but a small-market-for-sale franchise like the Bobcats can’t have this type of money tied up at one position.  There’s been a lot of conjecture recently about the “inevitable Nazr Mohammed trade” but maybe we’re all looking in the wrong direction.  Given Larry Brown’s series of thinly veiled rips on Okafor in the local media added to the fact that Emeka’s status as a base year compensation player is now over and I wouldn’t be the least surprised if Okafor was shopped hard this offseason.  He’s by far the most attractive of the group – with a decent contract, good game and a great attitude – and given his large cap number could be the center of a major deal that returned another big-time player, ideally a dynamic shooting guard with a shorter contract.
Maybe a deal that sends Okafor to Detroit for Rip Hamilton makes some sense with Diop stepping in as the starting center.
In fact, if an Okafor trade like this were to happen during the summer, you could argue that the earlier Diop trade was part of the organization’s greater Master Plan.  Of course, that would require you to believe that the the Bobcats organization actually plans things.

2. Ten seconds left on the clock, who’s the man?

Well, it sure as hell shouldn’t be Raymond Felton.  We appreciate your effort Raymond, seriously, we do.  But your inability to get anything done on the offensive end when it matters most was so damn infuriating that it almost made us forget about all the things that you are good at.
If a deal like the one mentioned above can be worked out in order to bring in a ballsy scorer in from another team then the Bobcats should pounce on it because their current lack of a crunch-time scorer will be the difference between them winning 38 games or 50 games.
If a trade can’t be worked out, then there’s only one option.  Iverson.  Period.
There’s nobody in this draft (save maybe Stephen Curry) who could be the man this year.  It may require the team to part with Okafor, DJ Augustin or their lottery pick but a go-to scorer is their most pressing need for certain.

3. Who backs up the Phoen-Ex Suns?

Charlotte’s strong playoff push ostensibly ended with Raja Bell’s calf injury in early April.  With Bell out, the Bobcats had to play too small and too young with DJ Augustin and Cartier Martin.  The Bobcats clearly need to find some depth at the 2-guard and if a trade like the one mentioned above can’t be made then the Draft has a few quality options.
The Bobcats can either hope one of the “upside” guys like Tyreke Evans or DeMar DeRozan falls to them at pick twelve or try to hit a solid double with Duke’s Gerald Henderson (the “Emeka Okafor” of shooting guard prospects).  We’ll have more in-depth previews on all of the collegiate players in our next post.

The same goes for the other ex-Sun, Boris Diaw.  The Bobcats were lucky that Boris stayed healthy following the trade because there wasn’t much depth behind him and the team seemed to have finally made good on their promise not to play Gerald Wallace out of position.  Coach Brown seemed to be impressed with Pittsburgh’s Dejuan Blair during his recent workout with the team and the big man could be there at twelve when the Bobcats pick.

We also shouldn’t forget the other overweight power-forward with bad knees, Mr. Crab Bread himself, Sean May.  If the team and May’s agent can come to an agreement in which May hits the unrestricted market and re-signs with the team for a league minimum one or two year contract, then a motivated, healthy Sean May could be the nice surprise in ’09–’10.

It’s all good.

The fact that I can type “The Bobcats are only a piece or two away from 50+ wins” with a straight face means that there has been considerable progress.  Putting aside five years worth of questionable draft selections, poor business decisions and overt cronyism, the ‘Cats find themselves now with one of the League’s best coaches, the promise of new ownership, a lottery pick, a little cap space and a few solid assets to play with during the offseason.  For Bobcats fans, the future’s never been brighter.

-ASChin

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12 Responses to “Charlotte Bobcats 2009 NBA Draft Preview: Part 1”

  1. David Arnott
    June 13, 2009 at 8:48 pm #

    The one thing I'd say is that it's not a 10-man rotation, so our second unit will play with members of the first unit, with a proper rotation. Having VladRad to sub in at the SG, SF, or PF "positions" is a good thing. If, somehow, we can tighten it up to an 8-man rotation, with a 9th man for some spells, we'll be good. Assuming Felton stays, we could have anyone from the SG/SF/PF spectrum fill that hole.

  2. Adam
    June 13, 2009 at 9:43 pm #

    David-

    If the Radman plays more than a few possessions at SG, we're toast. Last season proved once again that a Felton/Augustin backcourt won't work long-term. The team needs insurance when (not if) Raja goes out. Same goes for depth behind Diaw. Radman can pull spot duty there in certain matchups but against stronger post players like Carlos Boozer, he has no chance.

    To your point, I think having at least 10 solid players on the roster allows you to tighten up to an 8-man rotation, substituting certain pieces for others depending on the matchup (see SGV's handling of Lee/Reddick/Pietrus or Shannon Brown's PT distribution during the playoffs).

  3. xian
    June 15, 2009 at 2:12 pm #

    What about chasing after Lamar Odom instead of Iverson? If the starting 5 is Okafor at center, Felton on point, with Diaw, Odom, and Wallace filling the other 3 positions interchangably, and having Diop, Fatboy Ma (or Frenchie), Rad-Man, Bell, and Augustine as the 2nd unit.

  4. Jaxon
    June 15, 2009 at 4:27 pm #

    Any chance of moving up in the draft?

  5. xian
    June 16, 2009 at 12:09 am #

    Adam — Iverson will be a disaster, both in the community as well as on the court. I don't think a "star' level Sg will fall onto their laps, so a second tier "star" would be their best bet. Of those available, Odom will be the most skilled, but they will have to overpay. Actually, I woudn't mind some sort of a sign and trade that'll cut lose Nazr and Felton (even though I think Felt is a real assest for the team) in order to afford Odom.

  6. Adam
    June 16, 2009 at 1:46 am #

    Jaxon-

    The only way I could see the Bobcats moving up in the draft is if:

    a.) Someone wants to unload the higher salary slot and basically gives away the higher position.

    b.) The organization becomes enamored with Stephen Curry and trades away a real asset (DJ Augustin) along with the 12th pick in order to get him. This would be a risky move but the team would have to be sold that the younger Curry has both on the court value and regional marketing value.

    Xian-

    Last time I checked, Lamar Odom said he wanted to live at the beach – and I don't think he meant Myrtle Beach.

    I like the move, I just don't know how the Bobcats afford him at this point. Lamar will probably command at least DOUBLE of what Iverson gets in FA.

  7. Adam
    June 16, 2009 at 2:03 am #

    Xian–

    "A disaster" is a little harsh. Yes there are risks with bringing Iverson in but look at it this way:

    a.) Iverson has been humbled. The media has turned against him and this will most likely motivate him to focus and go out on a high note.

    b.) Charlotte is not NY or Philly. Hell, it's not even Denver. There's just not as much excess stimuli for A.I. to get into. Imagine for second if Steve Smith played for the Giants or Jets. He would've made Plaxico look like a hall monitor.

    c.) You'd be getting him at a great price. In the stock market, there is an understood rule that you NEVER chase sexy stocks once they're past what you want to pay for them. You let the stock come to you. Lamar Odom is going to get over-paid just because everyone and their mother has been watching him help win a championship over the past two months.

    As to your trade idea. Hmmm… Yeah, I'd make that trade in a heartbeat but I doubt the Lakers would. There has to be better value out there than getting a decent starting PG and a turd contract in return. What if the 'Cats spiced it up with the 12th pick? Still, doubt it. Championship teams just don't make many major moves like this in the following off-season. And remember, luxury tax won't be an issue for the Lakers 'cause they just made and extra $48 million in arena revenue thanks to those 12 playoff games.

    What do you think about Rip, Ray Allen or Monta Ellis?

  8. Regg
    June 16, 2009 at 2:38 am #

    ive narrowed our pick down to two players.

    a) DeJuan Blair

    b) Terrance Williams

    sure Blair has knee problems, but id take his chances of redemption over fatman's anyday. his strength and wingspan is amazing and will deff help off the bench to fill in the PF spot.

    with Terrance, i see a lot of talent. more than Gerald Henderson to be honest. he will fill a stat sheet, but his shooting is poor. but so is Henderson's. Terrance gives us a young 2/3 that will be able to fill in for Raja and Crash. i actually think he could take over for Raja in due time.

    as for now, im leaning towards Terrance. with a rotation such like:

    Felton

    Bell

    Wallace

    Diaw

    Okafor

    then for the second string we could go

    DJ

    Williams

    Rad

    Nazr

    Diop

    given the fact that Nazr will most likely be a total mismatch aganist more skilled PFs, this lineup will need to be tweaked. but by playing Diop and Nazr, we at least have two big bodies that could rebound. maybe we could take a chance and play Dontell at the 2 and drop Williams to the 3.

    if we went with Blair, we could look like this:

    Felton

    Bell

    Wallace

    Diaw

    Okafor

    then second string would look like:

    DJ

    Jefferson

    Rad

    Blair

    Diop

    of corse, this would all depend on Blair's ability to rebound and us taking a shot at Jefferson playing more.

    but i do feel better with us taking Williams instead of Henderson in the draft if Blair is taken at 11.

  9. Xian
    June 19, 2009 at 8:37 pm #

    Adam

    I think the Iverson Experiment just wouldn't work, if only because it goes against the fabric of the team — and I realy don't think the dude's been humbled. If he scoffed at playing team ball with an established team in Detroit, he's not passing to anyone in Charlotte. I think having Monta Ellis in Charlotte will fail for the same reason. Maybe it's because he's playing for GS, but I can just imagine LB having a heart attack when Ellis does the usual cross the baseline then fling up a jumper. I think Rip, if we can get him for Felton and spare parts (or our first round pick) would be a steal, not so sure about Allen, because he seems to be in decline, even though from what I understand Jesus S. is a great team guy on top of being a great baller.

  10. Adam
    June 21, 2009 at 10:06 am #

    Xian–

    What exactly is this "fabric of the team" that you mention?

    Is it the fabric that had the Bobcats playing .470 from December forward? Granted, this was the most successful stretch in Bobcats history but fabric like this is not what Championship Banners are sewn from.

    This team needs a ball-hog. They need a guy who WANTS to score when the clock is running out, when the team NEEDS a basket to end a drought. Now, a team can't have two or more ball-hogs (See Denver, Detroit) but one is ok. And the Bobcats are tailor-made for it. Every other player 2-12 doesn't give a crap about how many shots they get per game. So Iverson or Monta Ellis would be a perfect addition.

    The problem with the "fabric" as it stands now is that there were far too many times last season when the team would play "hot potato" when they HAD to score and usually the ball ended up back in Raymond's hands and he had to do something that he's not suited for – become an NBA clutch scorer. Go over to 82games.com and see how that worked out for both Raymond and the team.

  11. xian
    June 22, 2009 at 8:33 am #

    Adam

    that's true, they need a go to scorer, but they have good supporting pieces and finding someone who'd complement the people they have working right now should be the goal. If they have a player leaning on Diaw to hand him the ball during each play rather than letting him set up plays, it will lock up the offense — aging Iverson is not worth the bother — he just isn't good enough to pull the team through on his own anymore. Detroit and GS didn't go far with Iverson and Ellis, and I see them stinking up the place here too.

    And yes, they stunk up the place the past few years, but I'd rather watch them fall short the last minute rather than see Iverson do 40+ minutes of dribbling and trying to find a shot, with 4 other guys rotating for nothing.

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  1. BOBCATS BASELINE » Charlotte Bobcats 2009 NBA Draft Preview: Part 2 // the most obsessed Charlotte Bobcats Blog of all time - June 17, 2009

    [...] Part 1, we established several team needs.  Most of all, the Charlotte Bobcats need a superstar — [...]

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