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The Charlotte Bobcats image has taken a beating in recent years, and that narrative continued during the 2013 offseason.
Even though Charlotte improved the talent level of its roster, doing so prior to a loaded 2014 draft may prove to be the wrong move.
Let’s take a look at Charlotte’s first-round draft picks since 2004 (draft day trades are in parentheses).
2004, Pick 2: Emeka Okafor
2005, Pick 5: Raymond Felton
2005, Pick 13: Sean May
2006, Pick 3: Adam Morrison
2007, Pick 8: Brandan Wright (traded to Golden State)
2007, Pick 22: Jared Dudley
2008, Pick 9: D.J. Augustin
2008, Pick 20: Alexis Ajinca
2009, Pick 12: Gerald Henderson
2011, Pick 9: Kemba Walker
2011, Pick 19: Tobias Harris (traded to Milwaukee)
2012, Pick 2: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
2013, Pick 4: Cody Zeller
Of the 13 first-round selections since 2004, only four remain on the current roster. Three of those four guys were drafted within the past three years.
The Bobcats’ poor draft history is well documented, but it’s alarming to see that they have failed to land a franchise player. Kemba Walker is the closest they’ve come, and he’s played well, but he isn’t capable of leading an NBA squad to a championship as the team’s best player.
This is exactly why the Bobcats are receiving so much criticism for signing Al Jefferson. Yes, he makes the team better, but at what cost?
Jefferson is a tremendous offensive interior talent. He has averaged at least 17 points and nine rebounds for six consecutive seasons. His defense, however, is abysmal.
According to a Grantland.com column by Zach Lowe, Jefferson admitted as much by saying, "It ain't no secret around the league that I struggle with my defense." Well, then.
When accounting for his porous defense, Jefferson doesn't make Charlotte a playoff team. His offensive capabilities may net the Bobcats 30 wins, but that still leaves the team in NBA no-man’s land. They don’t appear to be playoff bound, and they don't appear to be one of the league’s worst teams either.
Watching the offensive prowess of Jefferson and Zeller is a huge upgrade for Bobcats fans. Unfortunately, they may not be able to enjoy them if it means missing out on a top-five draft pick next season.
Seeing chemistry develop between Walker, Zeller and Jefferson is a reason to watch, but the short-term gain doesn’t outweigh the potential long-term consequences.