After their 7-59 season, the worst season in history in percentage terms, the Charlotte Bobcats have to feel cheated that the 2012 NBA Draft Lottery prevented them from getting the first pick in the 2012 NBA Draft. It wasn't only the first pick that the Bobcats lost, but they lost the chance to draft a franchise-changing player in Anthony Davis.
And to make matters worse Davis is the only franchise-changing player in the 2012 NBA Draft. There is a huge drop off this year between Anthony Davis and the next group of lottery picks, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Thomas Robinson, Andre Drummond and Bradley Beal.
We, at NetScouts Basketball, feel the players projected to be picked at No. 2 through No. 5 are not sure All-Stars and we have questions concerning their potential.
Additionally, the No.2 pick has not exactly been a sure thing in recent years. The year 2000 brought Stromile Swift to Vancouver with the No. 2 pick. Detroit selected Darko Milicic at No. 2 in 2003. Marvin Williams hasn't been the All-Star Atlanta thought he'd be when he was selected No. 2 in 2005. And Memphis really wishes they picked someone other than Hasheem Thabeet at No. 2 in 2009. Perhaps James Harden.
So what should the Bobcats do? Let's review the options.
Any time a team has the worst record in the history of a league, they pretty much need everything. The Bobcats were so bad, particularly late in the season when it looked like they just packed it in and were pretty much of an embarrassment.
Charlotte finished the season with a 23-game losing streak. Only eight of their losses were less than 10 points. But Charlotte was playing with young players that have some potential. Is there anything they can build on?
At the No. 2, Gerald Henderson did exhibit some potential. He led the team in scoring at 15.1 points per game and grabbed 4.1 rebounds per game. Henderson is good in transition and from mid-range but has limitations. He's not a three-point shooter, attempting less than one per game and shooting only 23.4 percent on those he did take.
In fact, Charlotte was an atrocious three-point shooting team, connecting on only 29.5 percent on the season. So that's definitely a need.
At point guard D.J. Augustin and Kemba Walker showed some promise. They both averaged better than a 2:1 assist to turnover ratio. Unfortunately, Walker never became a consistent shooter in his first season. Walker averaged 12.1 points per game but shot only slightly better than 36 percent. He'll need to pick it up next season but likely deserves a chance.
Up front Bismack Biyombo has potential. He's got a great body, is very strong and is already a solid shot-blocker (1.8 per game) and rebounder (5.8 per game in 23 minutes). He'll need to work hard to develop an offensive game. That will take time but Charlotte should probably commit to him in the middle. We loved Biyombo at the 2011 Nike Hoop Summit.
In looking over the rest of Charlotte's roster there's really nothing else to build on. I'd say their priorities would be a power forward or a solid three-point shooter. Or just whoever they feel is the best player other than Anthony Davis.
So which players will they choose from?
As mentioned, Charlotte was a terrible three-point shooting team, averaging 29.5 percent on the season. Clearly perimeter shooting is a need. Generally teams don't go for a perimeter shooter as the second pick but if they did there are two options.
Bradley Beal, 6'5, from Florida who played one season in college and Harrison Barnes, 6'8, from North Carolina who played two seasons in college.
Everyone seems to be very high on Beal, but we at NetScouts Basketball aren't as high on him as most. We feel that Beal will eventually be a solid pro but it will take time. We have him rated at No. 13 in our 2012 NBA Mock Draft which is based on our evaluations of the players not on team need. So we'd think the Bobcats would be stretching to take him at No. 2. For a player that analysts have lauded for his range, he only averaged 33.9 percent on three-pointers last year. He has other facets to his game that we like, but don't feel he's worth a No.2 pick.
Barnes may be a more intriguing pick. Maybe Michael Jordan will finally select a North Carolina Tar Heel. Barnes actually shot slightly better from long distance than Beal (35.8 percent), led the Tar Heels in scoring (17.1 per game) and would provide more flexibility as he's three inches taller then Beal. However, we think it's a stretch to draft Barnes with the second pick as well.
How about a big power forward instead?
If Charlotte wants a power forward to combine inside with Biyombo, then Thomas Robinson will likely be their guy. We have him going No.2 in our 2012 NBA Mock Draft which means we think he's the second best player on the board.
Robinson came into his own this year, helping the Kansas Jayhawks to the NCAA finals. He averaged a double-double on the year (17.7 points per game and 11.9 rebounds per game) and was a terror on the blocks. We saw Kansas play Kentucky early in the year at Madison Square Garden and were amazed at how much both Robinson and Kansas improved during the season. When we saw them in November we never thought they would be a championship caliber team.
The downside to Robinson is that he needs shooting improvement. Even though he shot 50 percent from the field this season he only shot 35 percent ten feet and out. He's got a decent technique so he should be able to improve his shooting. The other question about Robinson is his height. He's listed at 6'10, but looks to me to be about 6'8. I could be wrong and will find out after they measure him at the NBA Draft combine this week.
If Robinson measures at 6'10, he'd be a solid selection for the Bobcats.
Andre Drummond's name has also been mentioned. We think that Drummond is too much like Biyombo, a strong, athletic post with an offensive game that needs significant work. If Charlotte sticks with Biyombo, we don't believe they can accommodate Drummond as well.
Everyone loves Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.He's versatile, he plays hard, he's a solid offensive rebounder and he plays to win. The kid is a winner and has won at every stage of his short career. From a high school championship to a FIBA U17 world championship to a national title with the Kentucky Wildcats.
He's relentless and possibly Michael Jordan can see some of himself in Kidd-Gilchrist. He runs the floor hard, he's tough and he plays with intensity all of the time. Kidd-Gilchrist is the type of player Charlotte can build a team around.
But is he really good enough for a No. 2 pick? He shot only 25 percent from long range and was only the fourth leader scorer for Kentucky last season. Are his solid intangibles enough to offset his skills and size (he's only between 6'6 and 6'7). You can check out NetScouts Basketball's scouting report on Kidd-Gilchrist here.
Many scouts think he is and they could be right. But he's still a risky choice this high in the draft.
Anytime a team needs SO much to be competitive it might be advantageous to go for quantity. We don't feel there are any no-risk choices at No. 2. Dropping down and getting additional choices may be the best path for the Bobcats.
While we think Thomas Robinson and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist might be solid choices, they don't come without risks. And when a team just needs to fill so many holes we'd advise them to see what deals they can get.
Cleveland would love to get Kidd-Gilchrist. He'd fit in perfectly with Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson as their base for the future. And Cleveland has a No. 4 and a No. 24. Charlotte could drop down and potentially still get a Thomas Robinson or a shooter like Barnes as well as another first-round pick or other players.
If I were Michael Jordan I'd be on the phone this month. When you need so much help, you need to get the best deal possible.