Michael Kidd-Gilchrist’s new shooting form sure looks better. Let’s hope he can keep progressing and maintain the form through the season.
The Biz is back with a new number (#8) on his Hornets uniform (previously #0).
“Turn 8 on its side and you get infinity,”
– Bismack Biyombo
This past week, Lance Stephenson decided to share some of his additional talents with the world. Charlotte’s roster has been suffering from a lack of baller/rapper combo-guard talent since the departure of Stephen Jackson. So, we’re happy to see Lance step right into the limelight as he prepares for his debut season for the Hornets.
Take note of the throwback Larry Johnson jersey, and the Kemba cameo. Nice to see Born Ready’s dedication to the team, already.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has the skills and potential of an elite defender in the NBA.
That line, or several similar variations of it, has been steadily delivered from the Bobcats organization since claiming the prospect with their top draft pick in 2012. They’ve beaten that drum so consistently, that it resonates down to each generic Bobcats write-up on sports media websites.
Inconveniently, that talking point just isn’t holding up. Perhaps, the organization can be excused for trying to deflect the attention away from MKG’s offensive woes. Or, you can commend them on their focused efforts to prop up the perceived value of the club’s young asset. By labeling him as an “elite” defensive talent and staying the course with that singular message despite his performance, we get to enjoy a bit of political theater with the franchise this season. By now it’s common knowledge that the Charlotte Bobcats have no clue as to how to select a player in the NBA Draft, especially the Lottery. As it’s becoming fairly clear that they honored that reputation by selecting Kidd-Gilchrist in 2012, GM Rod Higgins, Rich Cho, and Coach Steve Clifford have shown great synergy, working in concert to teach us the chorus of the MKG is Actually Really Good song.
MKG vs. Elite Scorers
Kidd-Gilchrist has shown some incredible athletic ability and his strengths appear to lie on rebounding and defensive areas of the game. So, he could really expand his game and become a sound pro player over the next few years. But the myth of MKG as an elite, top-tier, or lockdown defender is starting to fade in his second season. Back in late January, we saw Carmelo Anthony get hot and abuse the Bobcats in New York. Melo’s career-high 62 points came easy on a night where he started with a matchup against the overwhelmed MKG. Surely, the Bobcats locker room did what they could to keep Kidd-Gilchrist from sinking after being stripped of the only weapon he’s got – the label of a lockdown, defensive stopper.
Now, in early March as the Bobcats struggle through a treacherous series of games against the Association’s absolute best, it looks like the team will need to gather around young MKG to help him recover from another horrific beating. On Monday night, Lebron James stepped on the court and immediately got to work, dismantling Kidd-Gilchrist and the Bobcats as a whole. If the Bobcats truly had an “elite” level defensive player on their roster, you would hope they’d put him on the floor with orders to minimize some of the damage. Well, they sent MKG in the game instead. Lebron finished the game with his career high 61 points, and further elevated his own status as a sports legend. This must have been crushing for a young guy like Michael Kidd Gilchrist. Lebron has had some incredible games over his career, but he hadn’t scored this many points until catching fire against such a favorable matchup.
Work In Progress
If the evidence is showing us a player that’s not a once-in-a-generation defender, then what are we seeing? It’s starting to look like a young athlete that’s being mislabeled, and in danger of crumbling under the pressure of wrongly assigned expectations. Let’s hope Steve Clifford realizes what he’s got with MKG, rather that what he wishes he had. It might be best if Clifford gave Kidd-Gilchrist the Cody Zeller treatment and eased him into a proper role with the team and limited him to productive minutes.
Let’s be straight here – this isn’t at all about MKG’s lacking set of skills on offense (an entirely separate story), this is about the packaging that the team is aiming to sell. They’re trying to convince the fans, the league, and probably their own players on the belief that Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is great at doing something on the basketball court. Unfortunately, we’ve heard this tune before when it was called “Bismack Biyombo” and we’ve seen the raw, live performance from a better act named “Gerald Wallace” a few years back.
The Charlotte Bobcats franchise made the calculated and coordinated choice to lose all but seven games in 2011-2012 for the chance rebuild through the NBA Draft. Just about everyone would call that tanking. Critics of tanking usually base their view on the fundamental idea that losing to win has no place in sports. To those folks, the 7-win Bobcats coming away with MKG with their second overall pick in 2012 probably sounds like justice.
- Mike S.
World, Get Ready for Lucas “Bebe” Nogueira
There are way too many questions about the crop of players in this year’s NBA Draft. All of these lottery guys are so young, and rather unspectacular, that it’s a mystery who the Cleveland Cavaliers will take with the First Pick. Every single team will try to maximize what they can get out of their respective selections, but the experts claim that there are no future All-Stars available this year. Some clubs are actively looking to make trades, while others are praying that they’ll find the next savior of their franchise. Bobcats fans certainly know what it’s like to watch their team go digging for treasure in June. Now, once again, MJ and his pals are trying to uncover a prospect that’ll finally resurrect the passion of Charlotte’s basketball fans and remind them of that winning feeling.
So, who are the Charlotte Bobcats going to select? Really, how does any club make a determination between the value of Alex Len, Nerlens Noel, Anthony Bennett, or Victor Oladipo this year? None of the top prospects really seem to separate themselves from the pack. So, let’s cut through all of the smokescreens used by the lamestream sports media and get down to the real gem in the 2013 NBA Draft. You won’t hear the bros on ESPN, or sports-barking radio talk about this guy, but you better brace yourself because this is The Lucas Nogueira Draft!
There’s only one sure thing coming out of the 2013 NBA Draft – and that’s Nogueira! Most Americans don’t yet know of him, but the Brazilian baller has been exploding in the Spanish league and measures in at 7′ with a 7’6″ wingspan. Actually, we’ll all become familiar with him for his domination of the game of basketball and his marketable, soon to be a household nickname, Bebe.
Let’s be honest, there will be a ton of teams over-thinking this year’s Draft and passing on Bebe. But, I guarantee that they’ll regret it. Just as we all knew Bismack Biyombo (#biznation) would be the most amazing player of the 2011 Draft, this year we’ll all get an introduction to the phenomenon that is Lucas Nogueira.
Although it’s not yet known if Bebe can dribble a basketball, his highlights certainly showcase his invaluable abilities – throwing it down and blocking shots. I know some folks say that’s what Nerlens Noel does, but let’s face the facts – Bebe weighs at least 10 more pounds and has two healthy ACLs. But, it’s ridiculous to even put Nerlens and Lucas in the same conversation. Noel might find a jersey on a pro team somewhere, but Thursday’s big ceremony has only one real purpose – the first chapter of Bebe’s Hall of Fame career.
Just like Tim Duncan caught Lebron James after the Finals in 2007 and told him that the league would one day be his to rule, James must pass the torch to Nogueira. Surely, in just a few years, Lebron will no longer be able to deny that he has become obsolete after witnessing Bebe seize back-to-back Championships over the battered bodies of his super-friends. Resistance to Lucas is futile.
If Charlotte’s GM Rich Cho is bright enough to claim Bebe on Thursday, we’ll see the makings of the NBA’s next super team. It’s going to be impossible for Kevin Durant to pass up the chance to join Bebe and Biz down in “Buzz City”. Certainly, this is the kind of guy that Cho stays up all night insisting they’ll discover if they just work hard enough. Over time, the selection of Nogueira will make everyone forget about all of the mistakes of Charlotte’s past drafts.
To all the GMs out their reading Bobcats Baseline (yep, all of them) – Pass on Bebe at your own risk. He’ll carry that grudge onto the court throughout the next decade of domination and throw it your face during his Hall of Fame speech. You’ve been warned.
POLL : What to Do with the 4th Draft Pick?
- Alex Len (29%, 33 Votes)
- Anthony Bennett (37%, 42 Votes)
- Cody Zeller (11%, 13 Votes)
- Trey Burke (1%, 1 Votes)
- Trade the Pick (22%, 26 Votes)
Total Voters: 115
Michael Jordan’s Clutch Move Brings the Hornets Home.
Four years ago Michael Jordan was inducted in to the Basketball Hall of Fame. Of the occasion, Jordan said that it was “simply a continuation of something that I started a long time ago.” During his induction speech Jordan called out a lot of the folks that he didn’t feel were helpful to his ambitions. He even claimed that there was a chance you “might look up and see me playing the game at 50.”
Now at the age of 50, Jordan’s made a huge play off the court for the city of Charlotte. His body might be too old to lace up those eponymous high-tops but Michael’s still the ‘alpha’ and the only one who could make the shot Queen City hoops fans needed someone to make. Say what you will about his past mistakes as an owner, MJ deserves a ton of credit for bringing back the Buzz.
The Long Road Back
In 2002, George Shinn moved his Hornets down to Louisiana. He sold the NBA on the idea that the Big Easy wanted a pro basketball team and that New Orleans was the only place where he could make ends meet. It worked so well the first time that Shinn tried the same story with the league just a few years later with Oklahoma City. Fortunately, Commissioner Stern and the Board of Governors finally wised up to Shinn’s tactics and took the Hornets off of poor Georgie’s plate for good.
Shortly afterward, the league office found a buyer for the club in Tom Benson, majority owner of the New Orleans Saints. As new owner of the neglected franchise, Benson vowed to make Louisiana proud of their NBA team. His first order of business was to begin the process of rebranding the club with regional ties, and steer toward a name (Pelicans) that meant something to the surrounding area. Along with evoking a sense of local pride, the rebrand will go a long way to separate the climate of new ownership from Shinn’s downtrodden and generic Charlotte/New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets.
For decades Shinn did his best to render the Hornets brand meaningless – trading players in their prime, disregarding the fan base, and keeping that wandering eye toward the next town’s cash. Yet somehow, twenty-five years since his birth and against all odds, Hugo the Hornet finds himself on the precipice of returning home to the city that once loved him and – as the last twelve months have revealed – still very much does.
The total cost of reclaiming the Hornets moniker and washing away the Bobcats experience will be substantial. It also comes with the risk of alienating the few faithful who’ve kept the franchise afloat. It’s a gamble, but MJ’s always been the gambling type. For the doubters who say the Hornets rebrand won’t matter, be ready to be proven wrong because that’s one of MJ’s two great gifts – proving people wrong. The other? Taking and making big time shots.
As NBA enthusiasts across the globe get ready for the exciting action and intense competition of the Playoffs, Charlotte Bobcats fans should take pause to reflect on the end of an era – The DeSagana Diop Era. It’s not often that a team says goodbye to one of its Big Three (salary bandits). So, this is a great opportunity to survey the impact that the giant’s departure will have for the club.
Oh, how time and paychecks fly by. It seems like it was just yesterday that the Bobcats were pressured by Larry Brown and duped by the Dallas Mavericks into swallowing Diop’s ridiculous contract in exchange for Matt Carroll and Ryan Hollins. Since then, ‘Gana has eaten up over 11% of the team’s salary cap with few contributions to justify it. Acquiring the Senegalese seven-footer immediately hamstrung the ‘Cats efforts to retain their much better Center, Tyson Chandler in the 2010 off-season. Regrettably, Charlotte had to take back Matt Carroll, Eduardo Najera, and Erick Dampier’s contract in a financially-driven trade, delivering Chandler to the Mavs where he went on to win the championship. Oh, and then Tyson picked up the NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award in 2012. But, those wiry ol’ Bobcats still had Diop on their bench! Another fun fact – Ryan Hollins is a contributor off the bench for the Playoff-bound LA Clippers and played over three-times as many minutes as ‘Gana did this season.
Gana Diop Era Highlights
Okay, let’s take a moment to look at some Gana Diop highlights:
Next Step for Diop
It’s highly likely that Diop will step away from the NBA, and walk off into the sunset (after he collects the last of his $7,372,200.00 from the Bobcats this month). Despite the pain that he’s caused Michael Jordan’s wallet, it looks like the guy has actually done some pretty good things off the court with the NBA Cares program.
Nevertheless, ‘Gana is gonna leave a big hole on this team’s payroll. It’s fair that fans have concerns about how the team will use their salary cap numbers to improve this summer. But, when the time comes to announce the next signing, Charlotte’s front office needs to measure their offer and ask, “Is that guy worth Gana Diop money?”