MKG is the Future

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Baseline 2012 Draft Review

PART I – What Just Happened?

The Bobcats stunned the internet Thursday night by selecting Kentucky freshman Michael Kidd-Gilchrist with the second overall pick in the 2012 Draft. For those of us glued to Twitter and Hoopshype, the pick was a surprise because:

  • A. Every media outlet in the universe reported the team was working to trade down.
  • B. Out of all the draft’s top seven prospects, MKG is the least offensively polished – not exactly a perfect fit for the league’s worst offense.
  • C. The team’s only power forward under contract is a guy whose effort was so infuriating last season, he provoked a 68-year old man to pull a reverse Spreewell on him.

So why did Charlotte forego dreams of a sure-fire big man starter at #4 (Thomas Robinson) and another prospect at #24 (Tony Wroten, Perry Jones or Marquis Teague) in order to keep the pick and draft an 18 year old with a broken jump-shot?

PART II – Why It Happened

GM Rich Cho is a smart dude. President Rod Higgins is a smart dude.* They played the Wayne Gretzky by way of Steve Jobs card:

Don’t skate to where the puck is, skate to where it’s going. And judging from last month’s NBA Finals, the puck is going to an UBER-ATHLETIC place in which only the crazy-long, high of energy may roam.

Lebron James. Kevin Durant. Paul George. Luol Deng. Rudy Gay. Iggy. Danny Granger. Chris Bosh. Derrick Rose. John Wall.

Thomas Robinson only covers one of these guys on a good day. MKG can match up with ‘em all.

Robinson is an old-school bruiser who could’ve banged with Charles Barkley or Karl Malone back in the day. Meanwhile, this year’s Finals featured James and Durant playing the bulk of his team’s minutes at the four spot. I like Robinson but there’s no chance he’s checking either of those guys.

By adding Gilchrist to a squad which already includes Gerald Henderson (a near lockdown defender at both guard spots) and Bismack Biyombo (still developing but a defensive juggernaut in the making), the Bobcats have three players who could legitimately challenge for All-Defensive team in the near future.

MKG also fits perfectly with new head coach Mike Dunlap’s philosophy of fitness, effort and easy transition buckets. Good news, coach, MKG isn’t just “fit” he’s “relentless”. No player on the roster has been able to make Gana Diop or Tyrus Thomas feel bad for giving less than a 100% thus far but I think Gilchrist the “Culture-Changer” has a shot.

PART III – “Draft for Talent, Trade for Need”

The team just announced it’s extending qualifying offers to both D.J. Augustin and Derrick Brown. I’d bet on Brown being on the roster in November – he fits the mold described above. Augustin? This seems more like a strategic move – He has value but I‘m not certain he’s in the team’s long-term or even short-term plans – so don’t be surprised to see a sign & trade go down later in the summer.

By not qualifying D.J. White, the front office announced that they’ll be going after another power forward via trade or free agency. Again, considering the new philosophy, they’ll be looking at players who can play both big man positions, run the floor and affect the game defensively. Jason Thompson (RFA) and J.J. Hickson (UFA) will certainly be high on the list. Considering Hickson’s perceived character questions, Thompson seems like an ideal fit. I’m also a fan of Ersan Illyasova but expect his asking price to be far north of what the Bobcats can offer.

Potential sleeper: Toronto’s Jerryd Bayless (RFA) is a big-time paint scorer and could be had via sign & trade (Reggie Williams’ expiring – Raps will need shooters around Jonas Valanciunas); especially if Toronto ends up using all of their cap space on Steve Nash in the next few weeks.

Finally, I would love for the team to invite Iona State PG Scott Machado and/or Georgetown C Henry Sims to camp as undrafted free agents – perhaps their agents could be enticed with the promise of playing time.

PART IV – Better Regardless

Lost in the MKG Draft night confusion was this simple fact: The Bobcats are suddenly better. If a few of the above moves go down, they might even be decent:

  • PG: Kemba Walker/D.J. Augustin (or Jerryd Bayless)/Scott Machado
  • SG: Gerald Henderson/Ben Gordon/Matt Carroll
  • SF: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist/Derrick Brown/Jeffrey Taylor
  • PF: Jason Thompson/Tyrus Thomas
  • C: Bismack Biyombo/Byron Mullens/Gana Diop

Not bad at all. Scoring from the guard spots, MKG can slide over and check fours during small-ball lineups. This team doesn’t win 30 games necessarily but is set up very well moving forward especially if Tyrus rebounds from a wacky ’11-’12 campaign and if Byron Mullens rebounds (at all).

Two lottery picks next summer, another $10-15 million in cap space, amnesty provision card in their back pocket and another year of growth for their young players. The Bobcats’ future is bright and that might be the biggest surprise of all.

-ASChin

*anybody who can manage to get Cory Higgins on an NBA roster is crafty to say the least.

Bobcats Defeat Raptors On Jordan’s Night

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Nazr Mohammed via Kent Smith/NBAE/Getty Images

The Bobcats keep hope alive with a 97-91 win over the visiting Toronto Raptors on Tuesday night at the Cable Box.  Nazr Mohammed led the way with 18 points and 8 boards, while Tyrus Thomas returned to the lineup with 14 and 7 off the bench.

AP Recap |  Box Score

The first half was ugly.  In front of tons of empty seats, the Raptors went on a 20-2 run to take a 12 point lead in the first quarter.  Stephen Jackson was in foul trouble early and couldn’t get anything going as the Raptors took a 6 point lead into halftime.  The vibe in the arena was very negative; there was even some faint booing directed at the home team at a couple of points.

Halftime brought a ceremony inducting Michael Jordan into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame.  It began with a quick and dirty, but nicely done Jordan highlight video (NCAA championship game winner, “look at that!” dunk, free-throw dunk from NBA dunk contest, game winner on Ehlo, switch-hands layup against Lakers, game winner against Jazz, etc. — the big stuff) that ended with Jordan taking ownership of the Bobcats.  Jordan came out to mid-court accompanied by Dean Smith, accepted his ring and plaque, and gave brief, gracious speech — no piss and vinegar like from the Basketball Hall of Fame induction speech.

At that point, most of the Bobcats had made their way back onto the corner of the court to watch.  Jordan shook hands with some of the other members of the Hall and spent another few moments with Dean Smith.

Jordan and Dean Smith via Kent Smith/NBAE/Getty Images

The crowd lapped it up and rightfully so.  It was a good ceremony.  More importantly, and maybe I’m naive for thinking this, but the Bobcats lapped it up, too.  OK, maybe “lapped it up” is too strong; they came out in the second half with a better effort, and I can’t help but think the positive atmosphere created by Jordan’s ceremony helped with that.

The Bobcats quickly evened things up in the third quarter, traded leads early in the fourth, and pulled away late as the Raptors self-destructed with backup guard Jerryd Bayless trying to run the show.

Jackson never did get it going (7 points, 3-8 FG), garnering a tech and eventually fouling out in the fourth. Gerald Wallace tallied 16 points, 4 rebounds, 4 blocks, 3 assists, 2 steals and 1 mildly tweaked ankle (left).  Matt Carroll played crunchtime and had a really nice assist to Boris with under a minute left to help the Cats pull away.

Observations

  • So I missed the DeRozan dunk live.  I was looking down at my phone — damn Twitter.  I looked up in time to see the backboard shaking and the Raptors bench freaking the hell out.  Rightfully so, now that I’ve seen the highlight.
  • There should be a name for the phenomenon where a traditional center starts, plays significant portions of the first and third quarters, is quietly effective, but then sits the fourth quarter as both teams go small and athletic.  Can we name it the Nazr Paradox?
  • So the Bobcats are at 9-15, a game-and-a-half out of the 8th playoff spot.  Barring a shakeup or a miracle, it’s pretty clear that this is where this team will hang out most of the season.  Every marginal victory like tonight strings us along, hoping for a spark, a 4 game win streak to get back in the thick of things.
  • The Bobcats will be on the road in Memphis for a back-to-back tomorrow night, 8 PM ET start.

-Dr. E

be sure to follow Dr. E, ASChin and Cardbard Gerald on Twitter

Blazers Use Depth to Hammer Bobcats 7-Man Rotation

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Bobcats Baseline Observations: Charlotte @ Portland 2/1/10

No running diary tonight as I’m furiously preparing and packing for a trip to Western Australia (or “WA” as the locals call it).

Bobcats end a three game road winning streak against the Blazers at the Rose Garden 98-79.  AP recap here.  Box score here.

Simple Arithmetic

When you commit 21 turnovers on the road while launching a barrage of errant three pointers (6-23 for 26%) and allow your opponent to drop 53% shooting on you WITHOUT their best player AND their two centers, you are going to lose.  Bad.

The Bobcats (mostly) seven man rotation looked tired against a deep Portland team, settling for long jump shots and lazy passes.  Boris Diaw was a major culprit in the TO department, logging 5 while maintaining his “Laissez Faire” status.  Stephen Jackson and Flip Murray shot a combined 4-13 from behind the arc.  Ouch.

While it’s amazing that Portland can still trot out 9 quality players while missing three of their top 8 talents to injury (Brandon Roy, Greg Oden, Joel Pryzbilla), it’s perhaps more astonishing that Larry Brown insists on going with an EXTRA-abbreviated bench five games into a six game West Coast road trip.  The ‘Cats looked tired and uninterested for most of the game outside of a nice 10-0 rally late in the third.  Let’s hope that they were just saving their legs for another Lakers upset Wednesday night in LA.

Bullets

  • For those of you hoping for a D.J. Augustin Renaissance, don’t hold your breath.  D.J. continues to turn the tables on an excellent rookie campaign.  17 minutes, 0-5 (0-4 from three), 2 assists, 1 turnover, -9 plus/minus.  I hope his Junior Rebound is as dramatic as his Sophomore Slump.
  • The Portland crowd is one of the top 3 in the League without a doubt.  It sounded like a Playoff game in there tonight.  Can’t help but believe the Bobcats players felt a little jealous hearing and seeing this.  C’mon Charlotte!  Let’s re-create the Hive!
  • The Blazers Nic Batum and Martell Webster, two players who have been mentioned in Bobcats trade rumors for years, played great tonight, torching the ‘Cats D from the outside for a combined 25 points.  The ‘Cats have never had one of those long, silky smooth jump shooters.  Wonder how long that will last?  Rod Higgidy-Higgins?  Anybody?
  • Not to keep ripping on D.J. but aside from Brook Lopez (I won’t go there again), we can now easily make the case that the team should have drafted Jerryd Bayless instead.  Bayless seems to be everything that Augustin isn’t: explosive scoring mini-2-guard who can drive and shoot.  At 6’3″, 200 Bayless is bigger than Augustin and much less of a defensive liability.  Seriously, Michael Jordan should bring in a specialist DRAFT DAY GM.  Isiah Thomas is out there somewhere in rehab.  Let’s do this!

Until next time…Enjoy the Loss Bobcats Fans…

-ASChin

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

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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

Bobcats Baseline 2008 Draft Preview Part Three: Picks 1-3

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lj

Welcome to Part Three 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. In Part Three we will examine the Bobcats’ options if they should luck out in the lottery and move up into one of the top three picks. Part Four will be a look at the team’s possible choices if they stay in their spot with the eighth (or ninth) pick, while Part Five will consider the Bobcats’ second round pick.

We’ve established that the chances of moving up into one of the top three picks in this year’s draft are slim (2.8% chance for the #1 pick; 3.3% chance for #2; 3.9% chance for #3) but we’re an optimistic sort here at Bobcats Baseline. Let’s consider the choices the Bobcats would have in each of these situations. Continue reading