So You’re Going to Draft Bradley Beal

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Baseline 2012 Draft + Roster Breakdown – Part II

Last week we built out the Charlotte Bobcats ’12-’13 roster post-Thomas Robinson, this time we’ll take a look at what Rich Cho, Rod Higgins and new head coach Mike Dunlap will need to do if they go a different route.

The Scoreboard Decides the Game

Dunlap insists the Cats will be more aggressive on offense, converting easy baskets while doing their best to minimize those same shots on defense. That’s wonderful news and I’m certain that eventually the hustle plays will cut down the team’s dreadful -13.9 point differential and maybe even swing a few close games their way. In the meantime, the Cats can buy themselves a little breathing room by employing players who can increase the team’s offensive output the old fashioned way: Scoring the Damn Ball.

Bradley Beal has been compared to Eric Gordon, Ray Allen and Dwayne Wade: not only good company but rare company. There just aren’t many big-time scorers in the game. Beal instantly becomes Charlotte’s number one offensive option and most feared shooter. Concern over his 6’4″ height or with how Beal affects Gerald Henderson’s role with the team are mitigated by Beal’s ability to play both guard positions. The team’s guard rotation of Augustin, Henderson, Walker and Beal becomes one of the league’s best young backcourts.

RESULT: Charlotte selects Bradley Beal, SG Florida

Looking Forward

With the backcourt set, Charlotte will need to address depth at both the 3 and the 4 spots.

SF: Drafting Beal gives Dunlap the option to go small with Henderson playing on the far wing. He’ll need to get comfortable there because incumbant and veteran placeholder Corey Maggette is a near lock to miss a dozen or so games due to injury. Derrick Brown is a replacement level backup as well as a free agent and may not be invited back.

PF: This is why everyone’s reading Thomas Robinson as the pick. Once you pencil in Bismack Biyombo as a full-time center, the Cats collection of power forwards looks downright ugly. D.J. White is a fine backup with a nice 18 foot jumper but doesn’t defend all that well and has no post game. Tyrus Thomas? Who knows what you’re gonna get with the guy. He could end up averaging a double-double or be out of the league entirely by season’s end – how often can you say that about a six year veteran?

Again, I’m optimistic the team will get a call from Antawn Jamison’s agent come July and he’d certainly bring a much needed dose of professionalism and experience to a young team. I’m also convinced that Cho will try and trade up from the 31st pick to nab another frontcourt prospect, especially if they go Beal early. Jared Sullinger, Quincy Miller or Moe Harkless might be worth the move up.

RESULT: Charlotte signs PF Antawn Jamison to a two year $8m deal, drafts PF Quincy Miller in the late first round, extends QO to D.J. White, D.J. Augustin.

Staying Competitive

Make the moves above and you enter camp with:

  • PG: Augustin/Walker
  • SG: Henderson/Beal/Williams/Carroll
  • SF: Maggette/Miller
  • PF: Jamison/Thomas/White
  • C: Biyombo/Mullens/Diop

World Beaters? No, but a much more competitive lineup than last season especially given the boost in fire power. These Bobcats push to win 30 games, enter next year’s offseason with two 1st rounders, upwards of $30 million in cap space and lots of teal and purple (but that’s another story for another day).

-ASChin

NEXT UP: So You’re Going to Draft Harrison Barnes


POLL : What Should They Do with Pick #2?

  • Select Thomas Robinson (39%, 75 Votes)
  • Select Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (8%, 15 Votes)
  • Select Bradley Beal (15%, 28 Votes)
  • Select Andre Drummond (9%, 17 Votes)
  • Trade The Pick (29%, 55 Votes)

Total Voters: 190

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Should the Bobcats trade the #2 pick?

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As we debate (agonize over?) the relative merits of Micheal Kidd-Gilchrist, Bradley Beal, Thomas Robinson, and Andre Drummond as potential selections for the Bobcats with the #2 pick, a tantalizing alternative has been presented.

Matt Moore of ProBasketballTalk makes a strong argument for trading the pick.  The argument boils down to this: the Bobcats desperately need both a franchise player and a more general infusion of talent; there is not a franchise player in this draft other than Anthony Davis; thus, the Bobcats should trade down in an attempt to add a couple of talented players — pieces, or assets if you will.

Moore also identifies some weaknesses in this strategy: one, while it seems unlikely at this time, it is possible that one of the above-mentioned candidates for the second pick could develop into a franchise player, which would make the Bobcats look even worse than they already do (if that’s possible); and two, that the Bobcats would be unlikely to receive full objective value back when trading away the pick.

For what it’s worth, I think the former weakness is the more important one.  Part of me thinks that the Bobcats should just decide which guy is going to be the best player, pick him at #2 and move forward.  Don’t over-complicate things.

But building an NBA team is complicated.  And the argument for trading the pick is admittedly compelling.  The next question is:  What could the Bobcats realistically get back for the second pick?

Speculation has mostly centered around the two teams with two first round picks: the Cavaliers (picks #4 and #24) and Trailblazers (picks #6 and #11).  Obviously, the first step is that one of these teams must fall in love with a player.

The Cavaliers are building around the core of Kyrie Irving, Tristan Thompson and Anderson Varejao.  Most observers are putting the Cavaliers onto the prominent wing prospects in this draft: Bradley Beal, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Harrison Barnes.  The Cavaliers supposedly liked Harrison Barnes in last year’s draft, so if Barnes’ underwhelming 2011-12 season didn’t scare them off, they would certainly be able to sit back and get him at #4.  But if they fall for Kidd-Gilchrist or Beal, they could package #4 and #24 to move up to #2 to ensure that they get their man.

Getting #4 and #24 would be attractive for the Bobcats in that they could very likely still get Thomas Robinson at #4 (who may be the best fit anyways) and pick up an extra player/asset at #24.

The negative part of this is that the Bobcats already have pick #31, the first pick of the second round.  #24 and #31 aren’t that much different — are the Bobcats really going to give significant playing/development time next year to the #24 and #31 picks?

What you’d be hoping for is that someone who’s projected in the teens slips down to #24 so you get some real value there — Quincy Miller, for example? Or maybe you use one of those picks on a project (Fab Melo, Marquis Teague, Evan Fournier?) and stash him in the D-League/Europe while using the other pick on a more polished player who could contribute from Day 1 (Jeff Taylor, Draymond Greene, Andrew Nicholson?).

Moving on to Portland (picks #6 and #11), the Trailblazers are building around LaMarcus Aldridge and Nicolas Batum.  Their biggest needs are a starting point guard and a big to pair with Aldridge.  They could try to fill those needs with #6 and #11 (Chad Ford’s Mock 6.0 has them taking Andre Drummond and Damian Lillard, respectively, while Jonathan Givony/DraftExpress.com has them on Jared Sullinger and Kendall Marshall).

Or they could package the picks to move up to #2 to pick Thomas Robinson or Bradley Beal.  While Robinson is possibly too similar to Aldridge and thus not the greatest fit, he’s plug-and-play NBA ready.  Beal at 2-guard isn’t a primary need for the Blazers (they have Wesley Matthews there currently), but nonetheless keeps getting mentioned as as the guy that teams could really fall in love with.

Getting the sixth and eleventh picks would be supremely fun and terribly frightening for the Bobcats.  They might end up having to work out 50+ players when you add in the prospects for the #31 pick.

They could do the most Bobcatsian thing ever and pick Harrison Barnes at #6 and Tyler Zeller at #11 (harkening back to the all-Tarheels 2005 draft of Raymond Felton and Sean May).  People might riot, but those guys do fill needs — a wing and a big who meshes with Biyombo.

Or they could go with the two highest risk/reward prospects in the lottery: Andre Drummond at #6 and Perry Jones at #11 (again a big and a wing).  That would be fascinating.

Really, the possibilities are endless — the upshot is that you’re getting two lottery picks in a pretty deep draft.  And when you have as many holes as the Bobcats do, that’s probably the best move.

–Dr. E

POLL : What Should They Do with Pick #2?

  • Select Thomas Robinson (39%, 75 Votes)
  • Select Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (8%, 15 Votes)
  • Select Bradley Beal (15%, 28 Votes)
  • Select Andre Drummond (9%, 17 Votes)
  • Trade The Pick (29%, 55 Votes)

Total Voters: 190

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The Case Against MKG (and the case for the Other Three Guys)

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Bobcats Baseline: 2012 Draft Preview, Part I

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist

“You don’t understand, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is a winner!” – People on the Internet

Great! But why stop with MKG? Maybe the Bobcats should draft Michael Phelps or Tom Brady. What’s Ivan Lendl up to these days? Meryl Streep? She’s as decorated as they come. If I’ve learned one thing in my twenty-plus years of ring-less fandom, it is that THERE IS NO CORRELATION BETWEEN preprofessional and post-professional success. Period.

  • Emeka Okafor was a WINNER.
  • Raymond Felton and Sean “Crab Bread” May were WINNERS.
  • Kemba Walker was a WINNER.

Strange that the Bobcats have had all of these winners in their brief existence yet have lost so many games. Quick look at the stars currently playing for a title: Lebron, DWade, Pierce, Garnett, Rondo, Harden, Durant, Westbrook, Duncan, Ginobli, Parker. ZERO NCAA Championships total. Conclusion: IT DOESN’T EFFING MATTER.

“MKG has a motor that doesn’t stop!!!” – People on the Internet

So does a Honda Civic but you won’t see it on the track at Le Mans. Reggie Evans, Kenneth Faried, Cory Brewer, Matt Barnes and Tony Allen all give 110% every minute but if I was coming off the worst season in NBA history, I’m not sure I’d spend the Number Two Overall Pick on a non-game changing Energy Guy.

Oh yeah, and then there’s that thing about how Kidd-Gilchrist CAN’T SHOOT. Or create offense for himself. That’s gonna go over real well on a team already LOADED with offensive threats, right?

If Bobcats GM Rich Cho is 15% as smart as the internet gives him credit for, he ain’t gonna take MKG anyway so I don’t even know why we’re talking about him. If the team KEEPS the pick, they’ll almost certainly choose between the following three players (in no particular order):

1.) Thomas Robinson, PF Kansas

PROS: The Safe Pick. He’ll probably never beat Chris Bosh or Al Horford out of a starting All-Star gig but he’ll slide in nicely next to Biyombo to eventually form one of the East’s better, if undersized, frontcourts. His rebounding will be an instant godsend as will his ability to successfully execute any sort of offense within four feet of the basket.

CONS: Power Forward is hands down the easiest position in the NBA to fill right now. Aside from the top 5-6 guys, there’s not much separating the Carlos Boozers from the Drew Goodens. Not to mention the fact that Tyrus Thomas’s off year on the runway model diet may prove to be a fluke. Add to that the availability either via Free Agency or Trade of some solid starters (Paul Milsap, Ersan Illyasova, Brandon Wright, Josh Smith, Carl Landry) and it might not make sense to spend Number Two on a Glorified Replacement Player.

POTENTIAL TOP FIVE AT POSITION? No.

2.) Andre Drummond, C UCONN

PROS: The Vegas Pick. There just aren’t many dudes with Drummond’s combination of size and athleticism. He’s almost as HUGE as Bynum and Howard today at nineteen. His offense needs work and he’ll surely be a foul magnet and therefore a non-factor early in his career but if both parties invest heavily in his development, he may one day challenge Anthony Davis as the best big man in the 2012 Draft class. Pair him with Biyombo and they could form the most fearsome defensive frontcourt in the league for a decade.

CONS: Kwame 2, Electric Boogaloo. If he’s not serious about the game or his career he could single-handily set the franchise back at least another year. But for a team already playing from so far behind, that might not matter.

POTENTIAL TOP FIVE AT POSITION? Yes.

3.) Bradley Beal, SG Florida

PROS: The Cam Newton Pick. Lost in the now universal worship of Cam is the fact that most draft analysts initially had him pegged somewhere between a mid-first rounder to an early second round pick. Panthers GM Marty Hurney rightfully shut out the experts and picked the guy who was right for the team and situation, regardless of draft position. It paid off big.

Beal is this draft’s Newton. He does precisely the things the Bobcats desperately need: SHOOTING + DYNAMIC SCORING. Put him in a three guard rotation with Gerald Henderson and Kemba Walker and the Bobcats backcourt is a big point guard away from being good for a long while.

CONS: “But Gerald Henderson is our best player!!!” -People on the Internet – Do I even have to acknowledge this? I like Henderson. He’s fine but he’s probably the 19th best shooting guard in the league. Plus Beal can play some point. Like a rich man’s Sefolosha in OKC, there will be plenty of minutes available for Gerald, Jr.
“You can’t draft an undersized SG at number two!” - Traditional Draft Experts - It’s a small-ball league now and has been for some time. Beal’s shooting and ability to get to the line will help the team in their dire most area of need. Instantly. If Rich Cho is 4% as smart as I think he is, look for Beal to be swishing threes next season in orange and blue.

POTENTIAL TOP FIVE AT POSITION? Yes.

-ASChin (@bobcatsbaseline)

COMING SOON: OFFSEASON PLANS BASED ON THE POTENTIAL PICKS

POLL : What Should They Do with Pick #2?

  • Select Thomas Robinson (39%, 75 Votes)
  • Select Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (8%, 15 Votes)
  • Select Bradley Beal (15%, 28 Votes)
  • Select Andre Drummond (9%, 17 Votes)
  • Trade The Pick (29%, 55 Votes)

Total Voters: 190

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If Not Anthony Davis, Then Who?

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The Bobcats have been looking forward to the 2012 NBA Draft since, oh, about February 2011.  Fortunately, Operation Ping Pong Ball was a huge success and the Bobcats have the best chance at winning the #1 pick (25%) in Wednesday night’s lottery.  And even more fortunately, there is a clear #1 pick this year in Anthony Davis.

Drafting Davis would finally give the Bobcats a franchise player around which to build.  He would complement Bismack Biyombo well; neither one is a prototypical power forward or center, but their talent and athleticism would allow them to play together, freely switching defensively on the other teams’ bigs and concentrating on their strengths on the offensive end.

With Davis, the Bobcats would likely be able to lure a better coach this summer, and would improve appreciably on the court right away.  Then they would have another first rounder (or two) in 2013 and, most importantly, tons of cap room to lure a top  free agent in summer 2013.  Yes, if the Bobcats get Anthony Davis in 2012 I think they very well could be in the playoffs by the 2013-14 season.

Unfortunately, there is a 75% chance that the Bobcats will not win the lottery, and will instead be picking second, third, or fourth.  And most unfortunately, there are no surefire All-Stars after Davis.  The once-vaunted 2012 NBA Draft has turned into a bunch of question marks.

Let’s be clear: it will be an absolute tragedy if (when?) the Bobcats don’t win the lottery Wednesday night.  The players that will be available with picks 2-4 either have ceilings below “superstar” and/or have significant bust potential, making the Bobcats’ road back to relevance even longer.

But there’s no use crying over spilled milk.  And superstar or not, pick 2-4 should still significantly improve the team.  The consensus is that there is no sure #2 or #3 pick this year and that what we have instead is a second tier including Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Andre Drummond, Thomas Robinson and Bradley Beal.

When considering players in the same tier, team needs/strengths necessarily come into play.  While the Bobcats do have the least talented roster in the league, there are some relative strengths that would be foolish to ignore.  Probably the most striking is that the Bobcats have a glut of young and skilled, but either soft or undersized big men: Bismack Biyombo (undersized), Byron Mullens (soft), DJ White (soft), Tyrus Thomas (???).  So basically, power forward is not a position of need — unless that “power forward” is Anthony Davis, a hybrid power forward/center with singular talent a la Tim Duncan.

I also think that Gerald Henderson at starting 2-guard is a relative strength.  He has limitations, especially on the offensive end, and will never be an All-Star.  But he’s cost-effective (and likely to stay that way even after his rookie deal runs out), a good defender, and still has some potential to improve offensively.

With that in mind, here are some thoughts about what the Bobcats might do with picks #2-4.

#2: There is a 21.5% chance that the Bobcats will end up with the second pick.  It’s not a bad place to be, what with your choice of anyone not named Anthony Davis.  But it will come with a lot of pressure to pick the right guy, and not the bust.

I think most teams, the Bobcats included, would probably go with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist at #2.  He has prototypical small-forward size (6’7″, 225), plenty of athleticism and is a strong leader.  He’ll be a solid defender, and possibly an elite one, at his position.  Offensively, he’s an amazing slasher/finisher who needs to work on his range and shotmaking.  I really like the “Gerald Wallace, but with more offensive potential” comparison.  Finally, there is low bust potential with Kidd-Gilchrist, which is an important consideration when picking at #2.

For the Bobcats, Kidd-Gilchrist is a fine fit.  At his position, the Bobcats currently have Corey Maggette and Derrick Brown.  The end of Maggette’s time as an NBA starter is rapidly approaching, if it’s not already here.  He’ll be on an expiring contract in 2012-13, so would possibly be a nice trade chip for a contender at the deadline.  Brown is a nice backup.

So Kidd-Gilchrist could step in and own the starting SF spot for the Bobcats for the next decade.  His perimeter defense, toughness and leadership are sorely needed.  And the Bobcats would just pray that the offense comes along.

#3: The Bobcats have a 17.7% chance of getting the third pick.  Things get even trickier here, as you can’t be totally sure of who’s going to be available.  But assuming Kidd-Gilchrist goes second, then Andre Drummond, Thomas Robinson, and Bradley Beal would all be in play here.

I believe the Bobcats would opt for Andre Drummond. Drummond has ideal size (6’11”, 270) and athleticism for the center position and will be able to contribute defensively right away, but will need time and hard work to develop offensively.  A big bonus is that, like Davis, Drummond would mesh pretty well with Bismack Biyombo.  Whoever ends up being the nominal power forward or center doesn’t matter — they can play together and switch freely while defending the opponents bigs.

However, Drummond’s heart, motor, and even desire to excel at basketball have come into question after an underwhelming freshman year at UConn.  Consider what DeMarcus Cousins recently did with similar size and skills in his one-and-done year — he dominated.  But Drummond wasn’t even in the same ballpark in regards to efficiency or impact, and could disappear for whole games at a time.

If teams don’t like where his head is at during workouts/interviews, he could slide down some boards.  Combine the rawness on the offensive end with a motor that doesn’t run very hot and questionable work ethic, bake at 350° for 35 minutes and whala!  Bust.

But if he works out hard and says the right things during the draft preparation process (not that hard), he could be in the mix at #2 for some teams, the Bobcats included.  Even with red flags looming, most teams will be willing to take a chance on Drummond’s combination of size and skills with a high pick.

#4: If the Bobcats slide to the fourth pick (a 35.8% chance), it could get really dicey.  There’s a decent chance that Bradley Beal could go #2 or #3; thus, Drummond would still be available at #4.  That’s maybe a better place to pick Drummond anyways.  But for my purposes here, let’s assume that Kidd-Gilchrist and Drummond go 2-3.  It comes down to Bradley Beal or Thomas Robinson.

Beal is a slightly undersized, but physically solid, 2-guard in the mold of Eric Gordon.  Thomas Robinson is a relatively refined and well-rounded power forward who was productive as the centerpiece of a very good Kansas team last year.  Both are similarly low-risk.  You see the problem though, in that each would duplicate one of the relative strengths that the Bobcats currently have.

The argument for Beal is that he probably has a higher ceiling than Robinson, and would provide some sorely needed outside shooting.

The argument for Robinson is that, while the Bobcats have some power forwards, they don’t have a prototypical, tough, well-rounded one.  But I don’t think he fits well with Biyombo, in that Robinson doesn’t have the size to defend centers.  Any big that the Bobcats consider really needs to have that ability, in order to take some of the load off Biyombo.

It would be a dilemma, but with the Bobcats in search of star power and an identity, I think the pick would be Beal. But it also wouldn’t surprise me to see Perry Jones or Harrison Barnes get a long look if the Bobcats do slip to pick #4.

– Dr. E