The Charlotte Bobcats finished the 2013-14 regular season with a record of 43 wins and 39 losses. They have made great strides toward becoming a winning team and have a lot to look forward to in the future.
Even if they end up losing to the defending champion, Miami Heat, in their current playoff matchup, this season should still be thought of as a success and a triumph in proving many doubters wrong.
With the future seeming brighter than ever in Charlotte, the Bobcats will soon be looking ahead to the 2014 NBA draft.
With the upcoming draft being regarded as one of the deepest in recent memory, it is key that Charlotte lands a solid contributor for their roster.
The Bobcats already have a couple of great pieces in place in Kemba Walker and Al Jefferson. Combine those two with the emerging Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and opposite wing Gerald Henderson, and the Bobcats have a nice foundation to build around.
Still, there are several areas where the team needs to improve, and one way to start addressing those areas is through the draft. According to draftexpress.com, the Bobcats will have the No. 24 overall pick in the first round and the No. 15 pick in the second round.
This 2014 draft is deep, and if the Bobcats play their cards right, they could come away with a real steal. Let’s take a look at some of their best options for their first-round pick.
Charlotte has some solid players on the wings and in the backcourt, but there is always room to get better and add depth.
Kidd-Gilchrist has really started to break out during the 2014 playoffs and Henderson, Chris Douglas-Roberts and Gary Neal are all solid players; however, Charlotte could use another versatile player on the wing.
Kemba Walker is a tremendous young point guard, but the depth behind him could use some serious upgrading. Backup point guards Luke Ridnour and Jannero Pargo are 33 and 34 years old respectively and are clearly in the twilight of their careers.
Let’s take a quick look at Charlotte’s best guard and forward options who are likely to be available when they are on the clock at the No. 24 spot.
Shabazz Napier: Connecticut, Senior Point Guard
Shabazz Napier was the heart and soul of the Connecticut Huskies’ National Championship run this past season, very similar to what the current Bobcats point guard, Kemba Walker, did for their mutual alma mater in 2011.
Napier averaged 18 points, 5.9 rebounds and 4.9 assists while shooting 40.5 percent from downtown during his senior year. He is a very tough guard and can really score the ball. He has a quick first step, outstanding handles and can shoot it from anywhere on the court.
He may be a bit undersized at 6’0” and 170 pounds, but Napier also excels on the defensive end. For the Bobcats, Napier could come in right away and back up his friend, Mr. Walker. He would provide an immediate upgrade on the second unit, bringing in scoring, defense and toughness to the Charlotte locker room.
Elfrid Payton: Louisiana Lafayette, Junior Point Guard
Elfrid Payton is a guy not many people have really heard about, but he has the potential to take the league by storm. His stat line this past season was quite impressive, averaging 19.2 points, six rebounds, 5.9 assists and 2.3 steals per game.
At 6’3” and 170 pounds, Payton is a long and athletic point guard who can score and pass the ball at a high level. He is very unselfish, always looking for the open man and is a menace on defense.
A big, fast and athletic point guard that can score, pass and defend at a high level sounds pretty great for the Bobcats, who don’t have anyone capable of all of that in the second unit. I could also envision small-ball lineups with Walker and Payton in at the same time forming an ultra-athletic backcourt.
Jerami Grant: Syracuse, Sophomore Small Forward
At 6’8” and 200 pounds, Jerami Grant is a super long and athletic forward who excels in transition and the open floor. He is an explosive athlete who elevates very quickly.
Grant is going to need to improve his jump shot on the next level, but overall he plays above the rim and can legitimately defend multiple positions.
Grant would be a solid guy for Charlotte to take in and develop. If he can develop a better jump shot, he has a chance to be a star. He can rebound, has a good motor, defends and has explosive athleticism. He would make quite the athletic combination with Kidd-Gilchrist.
Kyle Anderson: UCLA, Sophomore Point Forward
Kyle Anderson is far and away the most unique player in the draft. At 6’9” and 235 pounds, Anderson can legitimately play any position from 1 through 4.
He averaged a ridiculous stat line of 14.6 points, 8.8 rebounds, 6.5 assists and 1.8 steals per game. Anderson has tremendous court vision, has a solid mid-range game and also rebounds well. The one obvious knock on him is his lack of elite quickness and athleticism.
Anderson could be a star in the NBA as long as he’s in the right system with the right guys around him. Is Charlotte that system? Possibly. He would certainly bring in a versatility to the team’s lineup that they have never seen before, a huge playmaking point forward with the ability to score, pass and rebound.
Al Jefferson is a beast down low. He is unquestionably the leader in the frontcourt; however, the depth and quality of players around him could be improved.
Cody Zeller is still young and has some promise, and Josh McRoberts is a feisty player that makes solid contributions, but the Bobcats could certainly use some more talent to bolster up the frontcourt.
Mitch McGary: Michigan, Sophomore Power Forward/Center
At 6’10” and 250 pounds, Mitch McGary is a physical and strong big man with a non-stop motor.
He has great hands and leaping ability and finishes with aggression at the rim. He can hit the mid-range jumper and is simply just imposing in the paint.
In Charlotte, McGary would come in and automatically provide a physical presence that is going to leave it all on the floor. He would be able to score and rebound and push for serious playing time as a quality big man, either competing for the starting job at power forward or coming off the bench at either the 4 or the 5.
Jusuf Nurkic: Bosnia, 19-Year-Old Center
At 6’11” and 280 pounds, Jusuf Nurkic is a huge, young post player. He is more like an old-school big man, with soft hands and the skills to score around the basket.
He is strong and physical and does not shy away from contact in the paint. He played in the well-respected Adriatic league this past season and impressed in the process.
He’s not a great athlete, which is the only reason he’s not a sure-fire lottery pick, but he could come in and help in Charlotte right away. He could benefit greatly from learning under a veteran like Al Jefferson, and if everything pans out, Nurkic could be the big man of the future.
Nurkic would provide an upgrade in the depth on the second unit and could also provide an interesting lineup proposal, where Charlotte could play a twin-towers lineup with Jefferson and Nurkic in at the same time.