Charlotte Bobcats NBA Draft Preview: Part 3

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In Part 2, I talked about some strategy that the Bobcats could possibly use in making the 12th pick and made some generalizations about which players may or may not be available at #12.  In Part 3, I’ll go into more detail about the players that are likely to be available to the Bobcats at pick #12.

A quick review: There are eight guys who will definitely be gone: Blake Griffin, Hasheem Thabeet, Ricky Rubio, James Harden, Tyreke Evans, Stephen Curry, Jordan Hill and DeMar DeRozan.

Then there are three guys who will probably be gone: Jrue Holiday, Jonny Flynn and Brandon Jennings.  In this point-guard heavy draft, these guys have been searching for a safety in the mid-to-late lottery.  In Chad Ford’s latest Mock Draft, he has them going in the 8-11 range.  But with the Nets at #11 supposedly in need of a big (and with this draft being described as underwhelming and unpredictable in general) I think there is a small, but not irrelevant, chance that one of these guys could be available to the Bobcats at #12.

Could the Bobcats use a lottery pick on a point guard who didn’t work out for them for a second year in a row?  I suppose anything is possible (especially with Jordan and Brown making the pick) but have to guess that they wouldn’t.  With the Bobcats having been pretty clear that they intend to keep Raymond Felton and DJ Augustin, point guard is a relative strength on our roster.  We have other needs that are more important.

Lets turn our eyes to the players that we’re pretty sure will be available at #12:  Gerald Henderson, Terrence Williams, Earl Clark, Austin Daye, Jeff Teague, DeJuan Blair, Eric Maynor, Tyler Hansbrough, James Johnson, BJ Mullens, Ty Lawson, DaJuan Summers and Sam Young.

To cull the list even more, we’ll strike Young, Summers and Johnson — #12 is just too much of a reach for these guys.  I’ll also strike Teague, Maynor and Lawson because they’re all pure point guards.  Mullens is intriguing, but one 7-foot-plus project on the roster (Ajinca) is enough — off the list.

I’ll strike Hansbrough for a couple of reasons: one, the Bobcats can’t be eager to reinforce the perception that they’re actually the Charlotte Tar Heels; and two, they have to be wary of a white player who was dominant in college, but has questionable athleticism for the NBA (coughAdamMorrisoncough).  James Johnson is out of the discussion; he did work out for the Bobcats, but is an out-of-shape forward tweener who has no buzz going right now.  (Update: as I prepared to post this, just saw Bonnell’s blog post from tonight which informs us that Johnson is coming back for a second look on Wednesday.)

DeJuan Blair is intriguing, as the Bobcats have a need for depth at the power forward position.  However, he’s a relatively unathletic rebounding specialist who relies on a wide frame to grab those rebounds, has played at a heavy weight, and has known knee issues.  Sounds a little too close to Sean May for me.

Austin Daye is an interesting talent; everyone compares him to Tayshaun Prince and the feeling is that he’ll be picked somewhere in the middle of the first round.  But he’s extremely weak and a little raw for the NBA.  In a few years he might make a good hybrid forward, but the Bobcats need help now at other positions — off the list.

Earl Clark is the first guy on the list that I think the Bobcats could potentially pick at #12.  He’s a long, athletic forward who’s similar to, but more ready to contribute than, Austin Daye.  Clark is most often compared to Lamar Odom, as opposed to Tayshaun Prince, to give you an idea of the slight difference between Daye and Clark.  Clark is just the kind of player whom Brown likes, and would only be a minor reach at #12.

Now we get to the two guys who are obviously at the top of the Bobcats draft board: Gerald Henderson and Terrence Williams.  The Bobcats invited these two back for a second look on Monday with Micheal Jordan in the house to observe.  Here’s the breakdown for these two.

Gerald Henderson played three years at shooting guard for Duke.  He goes 6’5″ and 215 pounds.  He increased his scoring average from 6.8 to 12.7 to 16.5 ppg over his three years at Duke.  He is considered a pure shooting guard, with tremendous athleticism and an improving outside stroke.  He plays great defense, and seems ready to contribute right off the bat.  Here’s video of Henderson after the workout, with some comments from Larry Brown towards the end.

Terrence Williams played four years at shooting guard at Louisville.  He goes 6’6″ and 215 pounds.  He averaged 8 points as a freshman, then 12, 11 and 12 his last three years of college.  That stagnation is probably the biggest concern on Williams’ resume (the other is his, ahem, eccentricity).  While he’s clearly a shooting guard, he’s considered more versatile than Henderson.  Williams has better ballhandling ability, is a better passer and can probably play a little small forward in a small lineup.  Similar to Henderson, he’s considered a great defender and will likely be ready to contribute in his first year.  Here’s video of Williams from the workout.

Here’s a great breakdown by DraftExpress.com on the shooting guards in this draft, with a bunch of great info and statistical analysis that helps to differentiate between Henderson and Williams.  Rumor has it that Williams really impressed Larry Brown at the workout, met with team officials afterwards, then pulled out of a Tuesday workout in New Jersey with Henderson, Hansbrough, etc.

So as I wrap this up on Tuesday night, all signs are pointing to Terrence Williams as being the guy as long as the Bobcats don’t trade the pick.  Seems like Williams would be OK with it.  Hell, judging by the interest he had in Jordan’s gear at Monday’s workout, he may even pay Michael to wear Jordans.

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-E

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