NBA Draft 2012: Why the Charlotte Bobcats Must Make Impact Pick
If not for a few solid veterans, it would be easy to mistake the Charlotte Bobcats' roster for that of a summer league team.
Michael Jordan, the best player in the history of the sport, has consistently been one of the most ineffective executives in the NBA when it comes to acquiring talent. However, Charlotte had its share of draft day blunders prior to Jordan taking over the team's basketball operations.
The very first player the Bobcats selected was Connecticut big man Emeka Okafor, the second overall pick in 2004. Since the center position had already been addressed with Okafor, Charlotte tried to bolster its supporting cast by drafting North Carolina teammates Raymond Felton and Sean May in the 2005 NBA draft.
When Jordan gained control of the team the following year, he viewed a natural perimeter scorer as the Bobcats' missing piece, so he hand-picked Gonzaga forward Adam Morrison with the second pick in 2006.
Looking back at the Bobcats' recent draft history, it is easy to see why the team won just seven games last season.
Okafor has been the A.J. Hawk of the NBA; he had high expectations coming into the league, but he has been nothing more than steady and far from spectacular. Felton played his first five seasons in Charlotte, but he has bounced around to three different teams in the past two seasons. May and Morrison fizzled at the professional level, and both are out of the league.
Next Thursday will be the first time the Bobcats have picked in the top three since 2006 when they selected Morrison, and if Jordan wants his team to take a turn in the right direction, he cannot afford a similar lapse in judgment.
Under the abundance of weeds on their roster, the Bobcats have some promising players that will be counted on to bloom into reliable starters. D.J. Augustin and Kemba Walker may not be stars, but they are both talented point guards who would find a spot in the rotation of most NBA teams.
Charlotte may not have a single player who would start for any of this year's playoff teams, but Gerald Henderson has steadily improved since coming into the league three years ago. After improving from his rookie year to his second season, Henderson averaged 15.1 points per game in 2012. With Henderson, Walker and Augustin in the fold, the Bobcats' backcourt is in far better shape than their frontcourt.
Last year's seventh overall pick Bismack Biyombo was considered a "project" by most evaluators, but he adapted to the NBA game quicker than expected and made 41 starts as a rookie last season.
Alongside Biyombo, B.J. Mullens started 25 games for the Bobcats. Despite appearing in just 26 total games in his first two NBA seasons with Oklahoma City, an inexperienced group of post players in Charlotte allowed Mullens to receive substantial playing time.
The Bobcats could use reinforcements at any and every position on their roster, but they are starving for a scoring threat in the post. Nicole Richie thinks Charlotte's frontcourt is thin.
With the second pick in the draft, the Bobcats will choose between this year's top prospects behind No. 1 pick Anthony Davis. While he may not have the same "star potential" as perimeter players Brad Beal or Harrison Barnes, Kansas power forward Thomas Robinson is possibly the most "NBA-ready" player in the entire draft, and he would immediately be give Charlotte something it does not currently have.
After Davis, Robinson is one of the two other big men who could possibly be selected in the top five. At 6'11", 280 pounds, Connecticut center Andre Drummond passes the eye test, but he failed to live up to expectations in his only season with the Huskies, and he will likely need to be developed slowly early in his career.
The Bobcats are not in position to take a gamble based on potential; instead, they should focus on drafting a young player capable of making an instant impact in 2012.
As a rookie, Robinson would immediately become Charlotte's "go-to guy" in the post. His offensive skill set would be a massive upgrade over Biyombo, Mullens, Tyrus Thomas or D.J. White, and he would take some of the pressure off the Bobcats' backcourt, which has carried the team in recent years.
Robinson, Beal and Barnes seem to be the most likely possibilities for Charlotte with the No. 2 pick, but Drummond and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist are intriguing options as well. Fans of the team are looking for a glimmer of hope, but it is hard to expect sunshine when the forecast is cloudy at best.
Headed into next week's draft, whoever the Bobcats pick, and whatever position he plays, it better be the right choice.
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