Charlotte Bobcats Season In Review – Part 2

Standard

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-

————————————————————————–

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

————————————————————————–

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.

————————————————————————–

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

Last Minute News, Rumors, Tidbits and Thoughts…

Standard

Only about an hour away now. I’ve read so much Chad Ford in the past week that I think I deserve an honorary degree in International Conflict Resolution from BYU-Hawaii.

Here’s the way things are shaping up for the Bobcats:

  • Bonnell reported today that the Bobcats were (desperately???) working to line up a trade with Memphis to get their #5 pick. Presumably this would be to ensure that we can get Russell Westbrook, who may not be there at #9.
  • Would a package of #9 and #20 be enough to get this done? Both Bonnell and Chad Ford seemed to think not today. Bonnell specifically mentioned that Gerald Wallace was available as well, but Wallace + #9 is way too much to give up, and Wallace + #20 doesn’t seem like enough. And should we be giving up anything to move up, when Westbrook may be there at #9 anyways? Could Kevin Love actually be the target at #5?
  • I read somewhere today that there are some in the Bobcats front office who are high on DJ Augustin, and are pushing him for the #9 pick. Please God, no. Hopefully that one’s all smoke screen.
  • If we don’t make a trade to move up to #5, then two trades that happened today affect who will be left at #9. The Clippers and Supersonics have agreed to swap their #4 and #7 picks, with the Clips sending their 2009 pick along in the deal (with some protections). The Clips would pick Eric Gordon (good for us, we’re not interested). Then the Sonics would likely take Brook Lopez (also good for us). In another trade however, the Bucks picked up Richard Jefferson for Yi Jianlian and Bobby Simmons. This puts some doubt into the thoughts that Joe Alexander will be the pick for the Bucks (as Jefferson and Alexander are both SFs), and makes it more likely that the Bucks will be after a guard: Jerryd Bayless (OK, fine) or Russell Westbrook (Nooooooooooo!).
  • So here’s my last minute amended prediction about what the Bobcats’ draft board looks like this right now for the #9 pick: 1) Russell Westbrook, 2) Kevin Love, 3) Anthony Randolph or Brook Lopez.

We’ll know in a little over an hour…

-E

A Waste of Time and Effort

Standard

Over the past couple of days, sentiment around the internet regarding Thursday’s draft has turned rather sour. John Hollinger gave us a smug two-part statistical analysis on this year’s prospects, showing the objective evidence behind the slides of Anthony Randolph and DeAndre Jordan, among others. Yesterday morning, Rick Bonnell took a dump in everyone’s cereal bowl by declaring predictions about the Bobcats’ draft picks a “waste of time [and] effort” and gloating about agents “outsmarting” themselves by not allowing certain teams to work out certain players.

Even Bill Simmons and Chad Ford, two unabashed NBA Draft fanatics, sounded like they were writing a eulogy for the 2008 draft class today when they did their interactive mock draft. Eventually, the negativity seemed to get to Ford, and he came to his senses:

I think calling this a bad draft may be an overreaction. Typically every team starts hating the next draft by July 1. By March, everyone loves it. And by June, when it comes time to make a choice, every team is deathly afraid of everyone in the draft.

It’s a strange phenomenon — sort of the equivalent of dating. When it comes time for commitment, every wart starts to show. This is altar fever. A week from now, everyone will be talking again about how great this draft is.

So let’s get over our cold feet, have some fun and waste some time and effort!

Without further ado, here’s a list of potential outcomes for the Bobcats’ #9 pick in Thursday’s draft, with their respective percentage chances of happening. Continue reading

Only 6 Shopping Days Left!!!

Standard

That’s right — less than a week left!  The 2008 NBA Draft is next Thursday, June 26th.  The deadline to drop out has passed, workouts are in full swing, and rumors are flying around at a dizzying pace.

Let’s take a look at some of the rumors that directly involve or affect the Bobcats.  Most, if not all, of this stuff comes from DraftExpress or Chad Ford on ESPN.comBobcats.com has also been delivering top-notch coverage of the workouts the Bobcats have conducted, complete with video. Continue reading

FIRST ROUND DECISION

Standard

Ninth Pick

“With the Ninth overall selection in the Two-Thousand Eight NBA Draft, the Charlotte Bobcats. . . ”

Well, what exactly happens won’t be known until a week from now. We can narrow down a few options, though.

Option A: The Bobcats select an inexperienced big man that they draft entirely on potential, but have not seen in personal workouts (SI.com / Charlotte Observer). None of these guys have a recognizable name, so there’s no simple choice.

Option B: Charlotte drafts a point guard that may or may not fit their new system (Augustin/Westbrook/Bayless)

Option C: The ‘Cats make a big trade for a veteran talent.

Option D: Jordan and the crew choose to move down in the draft and make an exchange with a team for a player with a cap relief contract or position themselves for a move later in the off-season.
Continue reading

Bobcats Draft Rumors and Tidbits

Standard

CLICK HERE FOR 2009 BOBCATS DRAFT RUMORS


Man, what a great time of the year to be an NBA junkie. The conference championship series are in full swing, and it’s that magical time between the lottery and the draft. Mock drafts and rumors are bandied about with a level of responsibility befitting a 15-year-old on Full Throttle.

The amount of content out there regarding the draft is almost dizzying — Chad Ford is doing his usual stalwart job on ESPN.com, DraftExpress.com seems to be pumping out 3 or 4 pieces a day, and even Rick Bonnell got into the act with a stretch of 6 blog posts in 4 days last week.

And it’s only going to get better (worse?) now that the official pre-draft camp is underway in Orlando. So let’s look at a couple of rumors and tidbits regarding the Bobcats. Continue reading

Bobcats Baseline 2008 Draft Preview Part Four: Pick #8 or #9

Standard

Welcome to Part Four of a five-part look at the 2008 NBA Draft from the perspective of the Charlotte Bobcats. Part One was a basic look at the Bobcats’ needs this offseason. Part Two took a detailed look at the draft lottery process which determines where the team will pick. Part Three examined the Bobcats’ options if they should luck out in the lottery and move up into one of the top three picks, while Part Four is a look at the team’s potential choices if they stay in their spot with the eighth (or ninth) pick. Part Five will consider the Bobcats’ second round pick.

Now that it’s the eve of the lottery and we’ve fantasized about moving up into one of the top three picks in the upcoming draft, let’s take a look at the more likely scenario: the Bobcats picking at #8 or #9. As I established in Part Two, there is a 72.5% chance the Bobcats will end up picking at #8 and a 16.8% chance for #9 — combined that’s almost a 90% chance we will be picking at #8 or #9. Continue reading