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Are Big-Spending Bobcats Officially out of the 2014 Andrew Wiggins Sweepstakes?

ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 11:  Al Jefferson #25 of the Utah Jazz controls the ball against Louis Williams #3 of the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena on January 11, 2013 in Atlanta, Georgia.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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Jonathan WassermanNBA Lead WriterJuly 5, 2013

With the addition of Al Jefferson, the Charlotte Bobcats now have the chance to officially become  mediocre.

Last year they were atrocious, so this is a step up. But only the Bobcats can take a step up and head in the wrong direction.

With a core of Jefferson, Kemba Walker and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, the Bobcats might actually be good enough to stink best. And with a flawed NBA system that can reward losing, you either want to smell the worst or win big.

In 2014, the NBA draft class is expected to be epic. Unlike 2013, a No. 4 pick overall could land you a legitimate game-changer.

But the first pick might change the fortune of your franchise.

If there was ever a year to stink so bad that nose-plugs became a free weekly giveaway, next season would be it.

Kansas' incoming freshman Andrew Wiggins has established himself as the No. 1 overall favorite and the treasure of the upcoming draft class.

Give in for Wiggins. One more year of humiliation is worth the chance of finding the savior. Even a guaranteed top-four pick, like the one Charlotte had this year, would result in acquiring a surefire NBA stud, given the talent projected to declare next summer.

So just how much better does Jefferson make the Bobcats?

Well, they finished with 21 wins last year. Jefferson's offensive talent alone should put them around the 30-win mark. Remember, he was the top option for a Jazz team that won 43 games in the West. Jefferson is incredibly consistent, and though he doesn't have the takeover ability of an NBA superstar, he's extremely reliable from one game to the next.

Now in the East with Boston and Philadelphia rebuilding, Milwaukee and Atlanta potentially entering down years and Orlando, Washington, Detroit, Toronto and Cleveland still at the bottom of the barrel, the Bobcats might actually contend for a playoff position.

I actually like the fit in terms of what Charlotte needed short-term. The Bobcats had zero post presence offensively, and now have one of the few true post scorers in the game. Jefferson should give this team a huge boost in the half court as a go-to option for points.

A post-scorer down low should improve the spacing and open up driving lanes for guys like Kidd-Gilchrist and Walker. It should also allow Cody Zeller to ease his way in.

And between Jefferson and Biyombo, one can score and the other can defend. They make for a frontcourt duo with complementary strengths.

The problem here lies within Charlotte's plan to improve short-term. By adding Jefferson, the Bobcats are sacrificing long-term for tomorrow.

And sacrificing long-term for short-term only makes sense when you can accomplish something in the short-term. And the Bobcats can't, unless their ultimate franchise goal is to simply reach the postseason.

With their current roster, the Bobcats are looking at a best-case scenario of getting swept or beaten badly in the first round of the playoffs. This of course leads to a mid-first round draft selection that probably won't result in the addition of a franchise-changing prospect.

The problem is that they owe Chicago a top-10 protected first rounder in 2014 from the Tyrus Thomas trade, who yes, will be amnestied on July 10. So if the Bobcats just miss the playoffs, they don't even get a draft pick.

The Bobcats have been screwing up drafts for years, which continuously sets the organization back. But it would have been impossible for the Bobcats to screw up next year's draft assuming they remained at the bottom of the barrel.

This was just the perfect year to stink, and Charlotte seemed to be in prime position to do so.

But of course, Michael Jordan is a competitor and tanking was never really in the cards. This time, Jordan might have let his pride and competitiveness cloud his judgement as a businessman.

Giving Jefferson $41 million to stay semi-competitive til 2016 won't be worth it if it costs the franchise a chance to land a future superstar.

Hopefully for patient Bobcat fans, this season won't go as well as it looks like it might on paper.

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