5 Things We Know About The Bobcats: Preseason Edition (vol. 1)

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Young guns are figuring it out this preseason

Even though the Bobcats are off to a meager 1-3 to start this preseason we at the Baseline find ourselves giddy with optimism.  Yes, it’s true – damn true.  What is it that has us so jacked for the October 28th opener at Boston?  I can think of at least, uh, 5 things…

1. The Youngsters are bringing it.

Or should we say, “wow, Larry Brown is actually playing rookies?”  Or, “the Bobcats’ roster is so thin that 2nd Round picks play 1st Round minutes!”  No matter how you slice it, the fact that both this year’s and last year’s rookies are putting in quality performances can only mean good things for an organization that has specialized in Draft Day Turnovers (of the unforced variety).

Last season we saw how good D.J. Augustin could be – especially pre-“8 Minute Aaaaabs” injury – and he’s been solid as expected this preseason playing the backup point, getting to the line often and shooting the ball from the field at a nice 53% clip (compared to 43% for Raymond Felton).  Nobody expected his 2008 Draft classmate, “Alex Ajin-ka” to “beast it” out of the gate (well, maybe reggie expected it) but “beast it” Ajinca has.
I’m not really sure why the beat writers aren’t making a bigger deal out of this.  Does anybody remember how terrible ‘Lex was last season?  His only memorable moment came during garbage time of a mid-season Chicago game in which he enticed Aaron Gray into a shoving match that resulted in Ajinca’s own teammates laughing at him.
Now all of a sudden Alexis is dunking in putbacks, tipping in missed shots, fighting through screens, attempting to defend the pick ‘n roll.  Does anybody realize that if he keeps this up, the Bobcats just might have an asset on their hands?  An athletic 7-footer with a soft touch and skills?  Ok, I have to stop…  Just keep it up ‘Lex and prove both Coach Brown and reggie right.

Meanwhile, this year’s rookie tandem is paying dividends right from the start.  Gerald Henderson is second on the team in scoring at around 11ppg and has got to the free throw line more than any other Bobcat so far this preseason.  Unlike Adam Morrison, Sean May and Jared Dudley, Henderson looks like a basketball player and his athleticism and understanding of the game has translated very quickly to the NBA.  Once he’s made it to the charity stripe, Henderson hasn’t shot the ball all that great (67%) but fortunately the team has assistant coach Capel on hand to teach guys named “Gerald” how to improve their free throw shooting.
Fellow rookie Derrick Brown has quietly put up consistent numbers over the preseason as well.  The Robert Horry-esque combo forward hasn’t dropped any 20 point games yet but netting around 8pts a contest in under 18 minutes ain’t too shabby for a dude drafted in the mid-second round.  The second coming of Bernard Robinson he most definitely is not.

2. The Bobcats are Competing against good teams without their starting frontcourt.

The fact that the Bobcats are playing quality opponents tight while starting Manny from Scarface at the 4-spot and Danny Glover at center is kind of mind blowing when you think about it.  And even though Radmanovic is struggling with his shot, his effort playing the four and doing all of what Coach Brown has asked of him is admirable.  We weren’t sure that Vlade was capable of something like that and it’s reassuring to know that the Radman can step in for 5 minutes a game and give Boris some relief.  Speaking of Diaw, I loved seeing Gerald Wallace’s face light up after the second Cleveland game when reporters asked him about Boris and Tyson Chandler’s return.  He didn’t even have to answer the question.  If the ‘Cats are playing this well now, this soon in the preseason, just wait until they get their starting center and PF back.

3. Larry Brown hates The Replacements.

Keanu Reeves could do a better job than these scrubs.  Coach Brown has been at the replacement officials in the media all week playing psychological games with them as if they were seven-foot one-hundred-and-ten pound frenchmen.  He has a point.
Practiced NBA officials are downright horrible and those guys do it on a night-in night-out basis for years.  The Replacements are a buncha dudes who weren’t good enough to take Steve Javie’s job.  Seriously?  How bad do you have to be in order to lose a roster spot to Dick Bavetta or Joey Crawford?  Can’t these new guys learn how to throw a game properly?

4. What’s up with Diop-It-Like-It’s-Hot?

One of the not so rosy developments of the preseason is Gana Diop’s devolvement into the team’s 3rd center. 
Now Diop can play him some defense,
all of the turbo-geek sportswriters and their formulas have pointed this fact out over the past few seasons.  Opposing centers just don’t dominate when Diop is on the floor.  So why isn’t Diop playing?
Brown has been openly criticizing Gana’s conditioning and that is probably true but I think that once the games start counting Diop will be the one backing up Tyson at the five.  Nazr Mohammed’s 19mpg has “showcasing him for a trade” written all over it.  Gana will play his way into shape and be fine come November.

5. Give Raja a “Hooligan”

In Jack McCallum’s excellent book on the ’05-’06 Phoenix Suns “Seven Seconds or Less” he relays a story about Boris Diaw’s inability to remember the English word “mulligan” and instead referring to it as a “hooligan.”  Apparently, Boris wanted a “hooligan” every time he missed a shot in practice.  Raja Bell has been missing a lot of shots this preseason.  And yes, he has proven that it is humanly possible for an NBA player to shoot 11% from the field.  But we must remember that Raja is a special case.  Now that Bruce Bowen has retired, Bell has taken on the official role of OLD MAN WITH DIRTY TRICKS WHO ONLY SHOOTS THREES and that role requires a special kind of conditioning and stamina training.  Mail it in during the preseason and work yourself into game shape early in the regular season, help guide your team to the playoffs after the Break OR if your team isn’t good enough to make the playoffs, play hard come New Year’s so that you can get traded to a contender.  Remember also that Raja is playing for one last decent multi-year contract this summer and he won’t get it by shooting 11% from the floor.  Go ahead and give him a hooligan for the entire preseason.

-ASChin

Cats Preseason Stats: Bobcats.com

5 Things We Know about the Bobcats: Training Camp Edition

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"Not Again."

Training camp wraps up this week as the Bobcats prepare for their preseason opener against Cleveland on Tuesday and after a solid week of sound bites, blurbs and opinions here’s what we know so far:

1. Raymond Felton is a great teammate.

Everybody is saying it out loud now that Ray has officially resigned with the team but we knew this already.  The way in which Raymond handled his contract negotiation with the team this summer was the same way he handles himself on the court: the guy’s a class act.
Of course the hope is that he finds a way to impress as much with his game.  Hollinger said it in his ESPN.com team preview and for the time being at least it’s still true: Felton wouldn’t start for most of the teams in the League.
The Raymond | D.J. Augustin dynamic is the most intriguing storyline going into the season.

2. Alexis Ajinca is gonna shape up or ship out.

Larry Brown isn’t going to let Alexis off easy.  Unlike Darko Milicic, who was an inherited problem-child forced upon Brown by Joe Dumars, Ajinca was hand-picked by Larry as he sacrificed a future first-rounder to select Ajinca a year ago.  If it’s one thing that you DON’T do to Larry Brown, it’s tarnish his reputation.  Expect Larry to stay in ‘Lex’s face all preseason as Boris Diaw, Vlad Radmanovic and Tyson Chandler all miss time to injury.  We’re looking forward to seeing how Ajinca responds.  In the meantime, Alexis Ajinca is on Facebook.

3. The team wants to run.

You’ve heard about it for the past week, the Bobcats want to run the floor this year.  At least they’re conceding that it’s a cheap way to score points.  As Chandler said, getting the ball past half-court with twenty seconds on the shot clock gives you at least two or three looks from the set offense.  Unless they find a big-time scorer via trade soon, they’re gonna need every single one of those opportunities.

4. We’re bullish on Gerald Henderson.

Not only is Gerald “well-spoken” but he’s also intelligent and has been well-coached.  Best of all, Henderson gives the team a super-athletic SG with a penchant for defense that the Bobcats haven’t seen since… Bernard Robinson?  Seriously, a case can be made that if the ‘Cats had Henderson late last season, they could’ve finished a lot stronger after Raja went down.  If Coach Brown and Assistant Coach Capel can work with Gerald on his jumper and free-throw shooting, we may be looking at an All-Rookie candidate.

5. Optimism abounds.

This is the time of year when everybody looks good.  The guys have come into camp looking fit and relaxed.  Seeing the new faces mixed in with the old fixtures makes it easy to get excited about this young squad.  And why shouldn’t we?  Regardless of what you might read elsewhere, the Bobcats have never entered into a season with so much quality depth.  There’s at least ten players who could make any roster in the League.  Don’t laugh, this is actually a big deal for the Bobcats.  And depending on how their preseasons play out, Ajinca or Derrick Brown may add themselves to that list of quality guys.  How’s that for optimism?

-ASChin

The Mystery of The Silent Off-Season

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Larry Brown's Project

Much speculation and anticipation has rumbled amongst the foundation of hard-core Bobcats fans this off-season. So many NBA teams have made notable exchanges or additions that the current stagnant state of the Bobcats roster can only enhance the fanbase’s curiosity. As anxious as any other group of fans, the crew here at Bobcats Baseline has assumed several questions for the past couple of months.

Who will Charlotte sign? Who will be traded? How do the Bobcats keep up with the other mediocre clubs? While an answer to these questions could create headlines or at least drum up a bold reaction from a sports pundit, the Bobcats might not give us any such satisfaction.

Perhaps, the fundamental question that puts the off-season into focus would be this –
What roster position or positions do the Bobcats see as immediate needs?

After securing a reserve shooting guard with Gerald Henderson in the Draft, it seems that only one area of need will push the team to spend any more than they are already committed to drop on the next season. GM Rod Higgins has commented on the need of depth at the power forward position, but the club hasn’t made any drastic moves to overpay for a reserve.  Despite the reports from the team’s lone beat writer or speculative bloggers (like us), the Bobcats have really only made small mention of the power forward spot as a need for concern. So far, no one in the front office has gone into panic mode over signing a guy that will come off of the bench next year.

Could this be that the Bobcats might not really be that desperately concerned over filling out the back-up forward spot? It’s been suggested that Sean May could be reacquired to provide some depth behind Boris Diaw. Most of Charlotte’s fans would see this as a sad gesture toward improvement, but the team is definitely shopping with a tight budget. Additionally, some have assumed that the Bobcats were more likely to sign a D-Leaguer or an unaffiliated player that shows promise in Summer League play. A move like this probably won’t splash across the Sports Page, but it could fill their need just as much as an underachieving former NCAA Final Four Most Outstanding Player. So, the Bobcats are likely to spend little to no cash to cover that one hole that seems so important to all of their most analytical fans this summer.

This may sound crazy, but maybe the Bobcats don’t really have a need for depth at the power forward position. Larry Brown is known to be a bit fluid with his rosters, and he’s definitely open about changes that he wants from the organization. Brown has yet to make any publicly clamorous requests for that all so rare talent that can play against the league’s other back-up forwards. The lack of noise from Brown or the front office could mean that they simply already have their reserve power forward in Alexis Ajinca.

Larry Brown saw something in the 7-footer Ajinca that caused him to push the team to trade for an additional pick in the 2008 Draft  (No. 20) in order to acquire the rights to the Frenchman. After only appearing in garbage time throughout the first half of last season, the Bobcats sent Ajinca to the D-League to keep his game active over the spring. After suffering through the experience of the Sioux Falls SkyForce, we can assume that Alexis has put his focus on improving his game in any way that he can to stick on an NBA roster. With Larry Brown’s insight and the open ear of Boris Diaw, shouldn’t we expect some degree of improvement in the lanky man’s second season?

For the fans expecting a blockbuster deal or a huge free agent signing Alexis Ajinca isn’t likely the answer. Though, for the financially ailing Bobcats organization, the possibility of Ajinca filling out his body, his potential, and the team’s reserve forward need would sure sound like a great answer.

-Mike

Charlotte Bobcats: State of the Roster | Post Draft

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"With the 12th pick in the 2009 NBA DRAFT..." ©Bobcats.com

Prior to the 2004 NBA Draft, former Bobcats GM/Coach Bernie Bickerstaff managed to hoodwink the lowly Clippers into trading down from #2 to #4 in order for Charlotte to select Emeka Okafor.  That was the first and last great draft move made by the organization and ever since then Bobcats fans have been subjected to picks ranging from mediocre to mind-numbingly stupid.

A quick recap for the masochistic:

  • 2005: Needing a Point Guard, the Bobcats refuse to trade up with Portland (who practically begs Charlotte for the 5th and 13th selections in return for #3).  Portland eventually trades with Utah for a lesser package of draft choices.  Utah drafts Deron Williams at #3, New Orleans drafts Chris Paul at #4, Bobcats reach for Raymond Felton at #5.  Bickerstaff cites “needing bodies” as the reason for hanging on to the #13 selection and not trading up.  The #13 pick?  Sean “Crab Bread” May.
  • 2006: Bobcats have a decent foundation with Felton, Okafor and Wallace and are in need of a dynamic scoring wing player.  They own the #3 selection overall and have their choice of either future All-Star Brandon Roy or Rudy Gay.  They select a non-athletic white guy with a crappy mustache gimmick and diabetes.
  • 2007: Bobcats realize that they wiffed big with Adam Morrison a year earlier so get creative and ship their #8 selection (Brandon Wright) to Golden State for Jason Richardson.  Later in the first round, they draft hustling, former ACC Player of the Year Jared Dudley.  Richardson and Dudley would later turn into a combination of Boris Diaw and Raja Bell.
  • 2008: With new coach Larry Brown, the Bobcats future looks brighter than ever.  With a foundation of Okafor, Felton, Wallace and Richardson, the team looks to add size in the frontcourt in order to contend for a playoff spot.  Stanford Center Brook Lopez is sliding and Charlotte is on the clock.  They select…5’10” PG DJ Augustin.  That’s ok, because they added size later by trading a future first round pick for a 7’1″ guy out of France who only out-weighs ‘Lil Augustin by 40 pounds.

So it might amaze the few people out there who are actually paying attention to all of this that the Bobcats just completed their first intelligent, completely rational, well-scouted and well-executed draft in five years.  WOO-HOO!!!

They didn’t royally screw it up as they did with May, Morrison or Ajinca.  They didn’t desperately reach for decent players like Felton or Augustin earlier in the lottery.  Nope, in Duke’s Gerald Henderson they picked a solid player from a great collegiate program who fits a position of need at exactly the spot they should have.  And to top it off, they added another great value pick (Xavier’s Derrick Brown) mid-way through the second round.  Props to MJ, Higgins and Coach Brown for killing it last night.  Your efforts are much appreciated.

STATE OF THE ROSTER

Now that we know who the picks are, it’s easier to see what the Bobcats will be focusing on once we hit free-agency in the next two weeks.

Starting Five

As of today, the starting lineup remains the same.  Henderson only starts if Raja goes down for any stretch.
Keep an eye out for anymore Dalembert rumors between now and next week.  If a Dalembert deal goes down, look forward to a summer of madness because this likely means that Emeka will be shipped off at some point to bring in a big-time scorer.

Second Unit | Post-Draft

Last night’s draft fills the backup SG position and potentially the backup PF position as well depending on how quickly Derrick Brown develops.  As of this writing, the Bobcats have a total of ten players under contract and two draft selections, leaving two roster spots available.  I think it’s pretty safe to assume that both Alexis Ajinca and Derrick Brown will spend the first couple of months of the season in the D-League so that would leave room for another veteran PF and veteran 3rd PG to be added sometime during Free Agency or Training Camp.

Even if the ‘Cats don’t make any major moves between now and the start of the season, the team is probably looking like a 38-42 win squad in a tougher Eastern Conference.  If they can find a way to add an offensive Alpha Dog either through a trade (Monta Ellis) or through free agency (Iverson), add another 4-6 wins to that total.

We’ll have more offseason coverage starting next week during our “Free Agency Preview.”

–ASChin

POLL : The Gerald Henderson Pick?

  • Great Draft Pick (26%, 6 Votes)
  • Decent Selection for #12 Pick (61%, 14 Votes)
  • Bad Pick - Duke Sucks (4%, 1 Votes)
  • Go Heels! (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Derrick Brown Was A Better Pick (9%, 2 Votes)

Total Voters: 23

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Charlotte Bobcats Season In Review – Part 2

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The 2008 NBA Draft in Review

The Lopez/Augustin controversy lingers on.

The Lopez/Augustin controversy lingers on.

DJ Augustin | PG, Texas | First Round Selection | 9th Overall

Let’s go ahead and get it out of the way.  In the 2008 NBA Draft, the Charlotte Bobcats made a big mistake by selecting DJ Augustin over Brook Lopez.  At 7-foot, 260 pounds, Lopez averaged 13 points, 8.1 rebounds, close to 2 blocked shots (1.84 to be exact), shot 53%(!!!) from the field, 79% from the line (HEY!  A big man who hits his free throws!) and chalked up a superb 17.94 PER which placed him fourth overall in a banner freshman class.  The former Stanford center kept an underachieving Nets team in the playoff hunt up until the final month of the season and was later named to the All Rookie first team.

This is not to say that DJ was a bust.  The young point guard out of Texas averaged a little under 12 points and 3.5 assists per game.  While DJ only managed to convert on 43% of his field goals, he shot a spectacular 44% from beyond the arc and finished sixth among all rookies in True Shooting Percentage thanks to his outstanding 89% shooting from the charity stripe.  DJ will be playing in this League for many, many seasons to come.


PPG RPG APG FG% FT% 3PFG% TS% PER
13 8.1 1.0 53% 79% 0% 56.8% 17.94
11.8 1.8 3.5 43% 89% 44% 58.7 14.95

Comparing only player for player, the choice of DJ over Lopez doesn’t look all that terrible.  From an organizational standpoint however, the ramifications may prove devastating.

Had Charlotte gone forward with its draft day plan of selecting Brook Lopez (a durable, multi-talented center) with the ninth selection, there would have been no need to later take on Gana Diop’s $26 million+ over the next four years in a desperation trade midway through the season.  Lopez is the far superior player and is guaranteed (thanks to his late lottery rookie contract) just $8.4 million during the same time frame.  Also, had Charlotte went ahead and drafted Lopez, they could have either moved 6’10” Emeka Okafor to power forward (perhaps his more natural position) or better yet pursued a trade of Okafor during this offseason in an attempt of luring back a top-flight SG or PF.

Drafting Augustin when the team had already invested a high draft choice in Raymond Felton a few seasons earlier made as little sense then as it does now.  Sure, we all have our reservations about Raymond but I highly doubt that anybody is ready to say that DJ is head and shoulders above Felton now or will be anytime in the near future.  The pick was redundant.  Felton is a better passer and a better defender.  DJ is a better penetrator, better free-throw shooter, and 3-baller.  He’s also 5’10”.

If Charlotte had drafted Lopez back in June, they’d be going into the offseason with a roster that looked like:

  • PG: Felton
  • SG: Bell, Carroll
  • SF: Wallace, Radmanovic
  • PF: Diaw, Ajinca
  • C: Okafor, Lopez, Mohammed

Okafor could be dangled as trade bait for a high-priced, high-scoring SG or kept to play PF with Diaw coming off of the bench as a sixth man.  The Bobcats would’ve also shed around $3.5 million per season from the unnecessary Carroll/Diop deal giving them a little more cap flexibility.

At any rate, DJ is here and for the time being at least, it looks as though the Bobcats spent the 9th selection of a very strong draft class on a backup PG.  A very good backup (think Kings-era Bobby Jackson) but a backup nonetheless.

Bobcats Draft Grade: B-

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Alexis Ajinca | PF, France | First Round Selection | 20th Overall

In an aggressive draft day move, the Bobcats acquired Denver’s first round selection (#20) for a protected future first rounder.  With this selection, the Bobcats drafted Alexis “Freedom Fries” Ajinca.  *Sigh* where does one begin…?
UPSIDE?
In retrospect, I can see how Ajinca impressed during those pre-draft workouts.  There aren’t many 20 year old, 7-foot tall former BMX dirt bike champions.  Most guys at that height are more than just a little stiff.  Not Freedom Fries.  At a shocking 220 pounds, Alexis has a smoothness on the court rarely seen from someone his height.  He shoots a nice fifteen foot jump shot and can be an explosive leaper around the basket.  If you were one of the NCAA players working out against Alexis in those pre-draft workouts, you probably had little to no idea how to play a guy like Ajinca.  No wonder he looked so good.

DOWNSIDE.
Alexis Ajinca has absolutely no idea how to play NBA basketball.  In his limited minutes, Ajinca has shown a few shining moments of potential but for the most part looks completely lost.  He is grossly underweight for an NBA frontcourt player and will need at least two more seasons of professional strength and conditioning expertise in order to achieve an NBA body.  Unfortunately, he plays for the Charlotte Bobcats (you know, the team that just moved training camp back to their home city to cut costs) and not the San Antonio Spurs so he shouldn’t expect to see any specialized nutritionists showing up anytime soon.  Hell, instead of hiring a translator the Bobcats traded for a bilingual French PF to pull double duty.  Alexis also plays for Larry Brown who is not exactly known for developing foreign project players (see Milicic, Darko).

The good news for Freedom Fries is that Coach Brown was the one who apparently urged management to trade up and select the youngster from Saint-Etienne and that will probably give Ajinca at least another season or two to show us what he’s got.  The bad news is that the Bobcats (in need this offseason of a rugged, defensive SG to eventually replace Raja Bell) could have drafted a much more ready NBA caliber player in either Courtney Lee or Mario Chalmers either one of whom could’ve contributed from the beginning of training camp 2008 until the end of their rookie contracts in 2013.
Alexis Ajinca is one of those high-risk/high-reward stocks that your financial advisor warns you about.  In economic times like these, I’m not sure if that’s where a money-pit franchise like the Charlotte Bobcats should be investing.

Bobcats Draft Grade: D+

-ASCHIN

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E’s Take:

I’m a little more bullish on DJ Augustin than my colleague, ASChin.  DJ is quicker and faster than Felton, and is a vastly better shooter.  I think he has the potential to be a better starting point guard for the Charlotte Bobcats than Felton.  If this team continues to go forward using Larry Brown’s Pistons championship squad as a model (no superstar, scoring responsibilities spread pretty evenly across the starters) then it would behoove the club to give the starting job to Augustin, the more efficient shooter/scorer.

However, if (as I expect) the Bobcats drag their feet on the matter by bringing Felton back and using DJ as a backup, then it will go down as a bad pick.  A money-losing, talent-challenged franchise like the Bobcats can’t afford to have the #9 pick in a pretty good draft and just get a backup out of it.

And yes, the rookie year that Brook Lopez put up makes the DJ pick that much more sketchy.  I still suspect that a Lopez/Okafor frontcourt wouldn’t have been a good fit (especially in the increasingly faster, smaller, more guard-oriented NBA of 2009), but it would have been a nice problem to have.

The Alexis Ajinca pick may eventually go down as a bigger joke than the Adam Morrison one.  We’re all rooting for Freedom Fries, but the guy is a long way from being able to contribute to an NBA team.  And a big part of the distance is his body habitus, which he may not be able to make up.

It’s also a bad thing that there’s really no precedent for Ajinca.  He’s taller than most centers in the league, skinnier than most guards, and has the skill set of a finesse combo forward.  Now, if you’re a singular, dominant basketball talent, it’s cool to not have a precedent in the game; think Lebron James, Shaquille O’Neal.  Those guys were/are so good that they dictate the way the game is played around them.  But Ajinca is not that skilled.  It would be helpful if there were other players like him in the league; i.e. there would be a template for how a 7’2″ small forward could be developed and utilized.

Even more concerning is that we’re eventually going to have to give up a draft pick to pay the Nuggets back for this one.  With our luck, it will probably be another lottery pick in a great draft.

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See also: Bobcats Baseline – ’08-’09 Season in ReviewPart 1: The Coaching Change

Bill Simmons on Bobcats MVP Candidates

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Bill Simmons on Bobcats MVP Candidates

In case you missed it, Bill Simmons posted his annual MVP Rankings this week starting at #450 with Elton Brand before skimming all the way down to his #1.  A few Bobcats made the list:

422. Alexis Ajinca
Keep an eye on this one: Ajinca has a chance to become the first top-20 foreign NBA pick to get cut from his national team within three years. For God’s sake, even Fred Weis started for the 2000 French Olympic team.

51. Raymond Felton
The guy I’d pursue this summer if I ran an NBA team. Ten weeks of trade rumors bounced off him and he never held a grudge. He has lottery pick pedigree (fifth overall in 2005), and if we’ve learned anything over the years, it’s that many blue-chip point guards take awhile to “ferment” (for lack of a better word). He’s one of the five or six best people in the league by all accounts. I’ve never seen a Bobcats game where he didn’t play as hard as he could. The arc of his first four years looks exactly like Chauncey Billups, and like Chauncey, his game will open up once he starts making 3s. Just a lot to like. Someone will steal him this summer just like Detroit stole Billups in 2002. You watch.

34. Boris Diaw
Reborn as an all-around player with Charlotte (since New Year’s: 16-6-5, 49 percent FG, 40 percent 3FG), giving us 2009’s best example of the Devin Harris/Avery Johnson Corollary: If you have a choice between making a major trade or firing a coach who clearly isn’t working out, always fire the coach first. OK? OK.

(Here’s how dumb coaches are: Just this season, we witnessed coaches playing Kevin Durant at shooting guard, slowing down Steve Nash, playing slow-it-up with the Sixers, bringing Rip Hamilton off the bench, burying Anthony Randolph on a lottery team, playing Darius Songaila over JaVale McGee on a lottery team, ignoring the stat that’s about to impress you when we get to the Nowitzki paragraph, and doing everything that Mike Dunleavy did. There’s a reason 85 percent of these guys get canned within three years.)

Do yourself a favor and check out the full column here.

BASELINE NOTES:
It’s odd that Simmons made the Billups comparison with Raymond because Baseline contributor “E” has been saying the very same thing all season, even using Chauncey’s career arc as an example.