Welcome to Part Five of a five-part look at the 2008 NBA Draft from the perspective of the Charlotte Bobcats. Part One was a basic look at the Bobcats’ needs this offseason. Part Two took a detailed look at the draft lottery process which determines where the team will pick. Part Three examined the Bobcats’ options if they had lucked out in the lottery and moved up into one of the top three picks, while Part Four was a look at the team’s potential choices with the eighth or ninth pick. In Part Five, we will consider the Bobcats’ options with their second round pick, #38 overall.
With Charlotte having multiple needs this offseason, the second round pick is quite important. Good, even great players can still be had: remember that Gilbert Arenas, Manu Ginobili, Carlos Boozer, Rashard Lewis and Michael Redd were all second round picks. Just in the past couple of years, we’ve seen Paul Millsap, Daniel Gibson, Leon Powe, and Carl Landry quickly assume important roles on good teams. The Bobcats themselves have had decent luck with Ryan Hollins and Jermareo Davidson; both have stuck with the team so far and will likely be on the roster again next season to be given another year to develop.
If, as expected, the Bobcats use the #9 pick to select or trade for a big man, will there be any potential backup point guards available at #38? Or will Westbrook be the pick at #9, which would seemingly necessitate going big in the second round? Foreign? Take a chance on a guy who has slipped due to health/injury concerns? Or just go for the best player available?
Finding a solid point guard in the second round of the draft is a tall order. Most guys who are good enough to play at the point right away, even as a backup, get snapped up in the first round (like Mario Chalmers will this year). What’s left over in the second round is usually scoring point guards or combo guards from smaller schools (Kyle Weaver, Mike Taylor, George Hill), foreign players (Goran Dragic, Mantas Kalnietis), or guys with serious limitations in the size or athleticism departments (Sean Singletary, Tyrone Brazelton, Drew Neitzel).
The Bobcats have worked out a ton of guards thus far, but most seem more like summer league fodder than potential early second round picks. Of the above-mentioned legitimate potential second rounders, only Mike Taylor and Sean Singletary have worked out for the Bobcats as of this writing. It should be noted that several 2-guards who could potentially be groomed as backup point guards have worked out: Jamont Gordon, Malik Hairston and Brian Roberts come to mind.
All in all, there’s no one terribly exciting or intriguing here. The Bobcats might be better off resigning Earl Boykins, trading for Jarrett Jack, or even talking Eric Snow out of retirement (kidding) to fill the backup point guard spot. But who knows? Maybe Larry Brown has his eye on a diamond in the rough.
Finding a serviceable big man in the second round is a much more likely proposition. As noted above, the Jazz found Paul Millsap with pick #47 in 2006, while the Rockets got Carl Landry with pick #31 in 2007. Both stepped in and paid almost immediate dividends for their clubs. Both guys were 3-4 year solid college power forwards who were deemed to be second round prospects because of one glaring weakness: being 6’7”. Both have shown that, in today’s NBA, there is a place for an undersized power forward as long as he has the rest of the skills.
Several college big men potentially fit the bill in the second round this year. Joey Dorsey is a 6’7” beast who is the second coming of Ben Wallace, right down to the severely limited offensive skills and questionable attitude. The Bobcats have not worked Dorsey out thus far to my knowledge.
Richard Hendrix did work out for the Bobcats yesterday, though he was only a limited participant due to a quad injury. Hendrix is a 6’8” power forward who averaged 18 and 10 in his junior season at Alabama last year. He attained his degree in three years, and has decided to stay in the draft despite not having a first round promise. The knock on Hendrix is that his college game was predicated on size and strength, which won’t be so prominent relative to the NBA players he’ll be facing in years to come. Sound familiar? Yeah, that’s pretty much the same knock that Millsap had.
There are also some foreign big men like Nathan Jawai and Nikola Pekovic that are projected to go in the early second round, but the Bobcats have never shown much interest in international players, save Walter Herrmann. And for good reason; international draft picks usually stay overseas for a couple of years (or are “stashed” there in NBA parlance) while their games develop and their buyouts are negotiated down. It’s a great idea for teams whose rosters are stuffed, but the Bobcats don’t have that problem. And with the weak American dollar combined with foreign owners being increasingly willing to shell out big bucks to keep their stars, it’s no longer a given that the NBA team will be able to make it worth the while of certain foreigners to come over.
Best Player Available:
What I actually mean here is “A wing player who doesn’t fill a need, but has so much talent/potential the Bobcats would have to consider him anyways.” Two guys to consider here: Nicolas Batum and Bill Walker. Batum is a 6’8” 19 year old French small forward who has been talked about as a potential 2008 lottery pick for the past couple of years. He elicits comparisons to Rudy Gay and Mickael Pietrus. However, he had a disappointing season in the Euroleague this past year, then had to shut down his workouts last week after a concerning stress echocardiogram in Toronto.
Batum clearly has first round potential, but this recent development could send him freefalling into the early second round. He underwent further testing over the weekend at the Cleveland Clinic and everything supposedly checked out fine. We’ll see how comfortable NBA GMs are with cardiology reports on Thursday.
Bill Walker is a 6’6” wing player who will be coming out of Kansas State after his sophomore year. Walker has had a star-crossed career thus far, and his bad luck has continued into the workout season. After his junior season of high school in 2006, he and teammate OJ Mayo were both thought to be locks for the 2008 lottery. However, Walker was ruled ineligible for his senior year of high school. He finagled his way into Kansas State early and began playing his freshman season there in January of 2007. It wasn’t meant to be, however, as he tore his left ACL after only a few games (he had torn his right ACL several years prior).
Walker returned to Kansas State for the 2007-08 season overweight and forced to play second banana to Michael Beasley. He worked himself back into the 2008 draft conversation with a decent year, then had potentially worked himself back into the first round with good workouts in recent weeks. But fate has struck again, as he suffered another knee injury during a group workout last week. The injury is said to be minor (either a meniscal tear or a ligament strain) but I say it’s basically poison to his draft stock. It’s interesting to note that he hasn’t yet hired an agent, and could return to school if he doesn’t like where he’s drafted.
I think the pick is going to be Hendrix if he’s available. He has the tools to be a solid power forward in the league, but does nothing spectacular. He’s a coachable, smart, classy guy who “plays the right way™”. There is a strong chance that he’s this year’s Paul Millsap or Carl Landry and will be able to step in and play a small role very early in his career. He would immediately give the Bobcats more depth at a shaky position.
The fact that he showed up to work out for the Bobcats yesterday despite being limited by a muscle strain speaks not only to his character, but also to the Bobcats interest in him. As a matter of fact, if the Bobcats are reasonably sure that they can get Hendrix in the second round, it really would free them up to take Larry Brown’s main crush at #9, Russell Westbrook.
And of course, we can only hope that Hendrix bounds out of the crowd at the draft, wearing a linen blazer and a 5 o’clock shadow to freak out Adam Silver.