NBA Draft: The Charlotte Bobcats and the Freedom of Misery
Merits over drafting style and strategy rage on, or at least lurk in the background until June allows them to completely jump the conversation. When the clock turns its attentions to a particular team, that team has a choice: to pick between the best prospect on the board, or to choose the player most likely to fit well with the roster already in place.
In some fortunate cases, that player is one in the same. But balancing the compulsion to draft based on need with a player's more absolute value (as much as there is such a thing in a game as complex as basketball) can be difficult, and often we see teams drift too far in one direction or another.
A pure investment in value can wind up making a mess in the locker room, unseat a coach or ultimately drive down a useful prospect's trade value. A look to accommodate need alone can result in an underwhelming selection, and worse yet, one that isn't applicable in as soon as a few years. Both extremes can be incredibly tempting based on specific prospects, but smart teams make their selections by balancing the two schools of thought as meticulously as possible in order to gauge the best overall value.
The Charlotte Bobcats need not concern themselves with such matters; rebuilding teams often have a certain player or two that they wish to keep in the fold, but honestly, Charlotte doesn't have any overwhelmingly attractive candidates to tag as part of their future. Gerald Henderson is a solid player, but very much replaceable. Bismack Biyombo has some incredible potential as a shot-blocker, but is seemingly years away from giving us a more solidified snapshot of his overall game. D.J. Augustin is completely inessential, and in a way was already unseated by Kemba Walker, who was indirectly dubbed inessential by his own GM on the night of the draft lottery (per John Schuhmann of NBA.com):
Rich Cho, CHA GM, said "We need some size at the point guard spot" less than a year after his team (not him) drafted Kemba Walker.— John Schuhmann (@johnschuhmann) May 31, 2012
Obviously that doesn't mean that the Bobcats are giving up on Walker just yet, but Cho wouldn't have cited that particular position if he didn't feel it to be one of need.
Who should the Bobcats select with the No.2 overall pick?
That, more than anything, perfectly encapsulates Charlotte's position. Drafting based on need and based on talent are one in the same for this team, because the Bobcats need everything. They need slashers and shooters and ball-handlers and rebounders, but most importantly, they need a player whose name can be written in ink on their depth chart. They need a player talented enough to not be considered a prospective weakness just a year later, even if that time frame isn't entirely fair to what can ultimately be a slow developmental process.
The Bobcats may not have lucked out in the draft lottery, but they're fortunate in their misfortune; it's a shame that Charlotte again enters the draft with a relatively blank slate, but that lack of convincing cornerstones allows Rich Cho the freedom to make the best possible choice.
Here's hoping Cho makes the right call, or better yet—that owner Michael Jordan allows him to make it.
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