With the regular season winding down, the stark dichotomy of the National Basketball Association rears its ever-present head. While the “haves,” the 16 teams good enough to participate in the postseason, gear up for the two-month fight for that elusive NBA title, the “have nots” jockey for ping-pong balls in hopes of landing the next great superstar in the 2012 NBA Draft.
This year the worst record and coinciding 25-percent chance at the first overall selection was sewn up weeks ago.
The Charlotte Bobcats have been amongst the worst teams in NBA history. Currently, the 7-54 Cats are riding an 18-game losing streak and have still have a chance to achieve the worst winning percentage in NBA history, taking the crown from the 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers, who were victorious in just over 11 percent of their games.
The franchise is in a tailspin and is hoping the basketball gods bless them with this year’s top prize, Kentucky forward Anthony Davis. History shows one player can completely change the trajectory of a team, and scouts believe the lanky 19-year-old has “franchise player” potential.
The thing about the draft lottery, however, is that it is just that…a lottery. Even with the worst record, there is a 75 percent chance of not landing in the number one spot. Since 1990, only three teams with the worst record actually won the lottery. Luckily, this draft is projected to be quite deep with talent throughout the first round.
So what do the Bobcats do if they fall to second?
There are plenty of options. You could take the gritty Kansas Jayhawk forward Thomas Robinson. Maybe the sweet shooting two-guard out of Florida Bradley Beal catches the eye of Charlotte brass. Or maybe UConn’s athletic big man Andre Drummond is the target.
Or just maybe Charlotte should make the unconventional move and trade the pick.
As of right now, there seems to be a consensus top five in this year’s draft. Davis, Robinson, Beal, Drummond and Kentucky freshman Michael Kidd-Gilchrist figure to have their names called first this summer. Of the five, however, only Davis is said to be have franchise-player potential. If the Bobcats strike out on Davis, they will need a contingency plan to improve their roster.
Historically, the second overall pick is a tricky one. There is no doubt that at number two, there are typically great players available. Kevin Durant, Jason Kidd and Alonzo Mourning were all second overall selection, and all had great careers. Looking a bit closer at some numbers, the second pick is often is the source of disappointment, however.
Granted, number two still yields a very good player, but you essentially get the same player at number five as you would get at two. It is not a steadfast rule, but should be considered when you are attempting to improve a team with so many holes. The league catchphrase is due diligence, and it is up to the Bobcats to gauge the value of the number two pick if it falls to them.
Who are possible trade partners?
The Jazz have been looking to fill the shooting guard position the last 10-plus years. Since Jeff Hornacek retired in 2000, the two-guard position has been a revolving door in Salt Lake. Additionally, the Jazz at stacked with young frontcourt talent. Perhaps the idea of selecting sharp-shooting Florida guard Bradley Beal intrigue the Jazz enough to part with their own top pick (which is projected to fall in the top eight) and one of their “bigs.”
The most likely trade chip would be bruising forward Paul Millsap who is due a very reasonable $7.2 million next season and whose exit would open a spot for the talented Derek Favors to step into the starting lineup.
At number eight, the Bobcats would most likely be picking from talents like Perry Jones, Jeremy Lamb and local product Tyler Zeller.
The Pacers are among the deepest teams in the NBA, but rumor has Indiana attempting to bolster the shooting guard position this summer. Names like O.J. Mayo and Eric Gordon have been floated, but both will come at hefty price tags. The second overall pick carries a $3.8 million tag, which is much more palatable than the numbers it would likely take to snag one of the two in free agency.
While the Pacers pick figures to be in the mid-20s, exchanging former all-star Danny Granger and the pick might get it done. The motivation to move Granger would be to free up cap room to re-sign All-Star Center Roy Hibbert, who hits restricted free agency at season’s end and will be one of the most highly sought-after players this summer. Additionally, the Pacers have burgeoning star Paul George waiting in the wings to take over that small forward.
The Bobcats would acquire a prime-time scorer and an additional opportunity to draft a starting level player late in the first round.
The Sixers are on the very edge of falling out of the playoffs. If they fall out of the playoffs and into the lottery, their probable focus will be to replace former All-Star Elton Brand. Big men Thomas Robinson and Andre Drummond could entice them to part ways with one of their wings, a position in which they have considerable depth. Odds would have them willing to part with Andre Iguodala, whose talent is often overshadowed by his $15 million salary. Another option would be athletic forward Thaddeus Young, who will be in the second year of a five-year, $43 million contract next season.
Assuming Philly falls out of the playoffs, their pick would fall at the back end of the lottery. At 14 you are likely choosing between Jeremy Lamb, Austin Rivers, John Henson and Arnett Moultrie.
The one good thing about the Bobcats roster is that they need help everywhere. There are not the positional concerns many teams will have come draft time. Charlotte simply needs talent and as much of it as they can get. Perhaps a less conventional way of thinking could help them in the long run.