Welcome to Part Four 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 should luck out in the lottery and move up into one of the top three picks, while Part Four is a look at the team’s potential choices if they stay in their spot with the eighth (or ninth) pick. Part Five will consider the Bobcats’ second round pick.
Now that it’s the eve of the lottery and we’ve fantasized about moving up into one of the top three picks in the upcoming draft, let’s take a look at the more likely scenario: the Bobcats picking at #8 or #9. As I established in Part Two, there is a 72.5% chance the Bobcats will end up picking at #8 and a 16.8% chance for #9 — combined that’s almost a 90% chance we will be picking at #8 or #9.
Again, credit where credit is due — my favorite websites for researching NBA prospects are NBADraft.net, DraftExpress.com, and ESPN.com’s Draft Central. Significant time was spent on each of these sites in the preparation of this piece.
It’s difficult to know exactly who will be available when the 8th and 9th picks roll around this year, we can make some educated guesses. Certainly, guys from the first two tiers will be gone: Michael Beasley, Derrick Rose, OJ Mayo, Jerryd Bayless and Brook Lopez.
The third tier of players looks like this: Eric Gordon, Danilo Gallinari, Anthony Randolph, DeAndre Jordan, and Kevin Love. The tier beyond that includes DJ Augustin, Russell Westbrook, Darrell Arthur, and possibly even Nicolas Batum, JaVale McGee and Kosta Koufos. I only mention these fourth tier guys because of the possibility that the combination of great workouts, a slipping third tier guy and team needs could move them into the discussion in the mid-late lottery. I believe the Bobcats would probably take the time to work out Darrell Arthur and JaVale McGee, given the need for a big man, but for now, let’s stick to considering the third tier.
Right away, I think we can strike Eric Gordon and Danilo Gallinari off the list. Gordon is a sweet shooting, undersized 2-guard comparable to Ben Gordon (but more aggressive going to the hoop) or Monta Ellis (but not as lightning-quick). Gallinari is a typical European small-forward-in-a-power-forward’s body. Think Toni Kukoc or Hedo Turkoglu. After watching some YouTube video of him, he just doesn’t look long or strong enough to play the 4 in the NBA, a la Dirk or Yi Jianlian. Neither Gordon nor Gallinari appears to be a good fit for the Bobcats.
That leaves three “one and done” prospects: Anthony Randolph, DeAndre Jordan, and Kevin Love. Off we go…
Anthony Randolph Forward 6’11” 220 lbs 18 years old (7/15/89) LSU
Randolph had a solid season in his only year of college basketball. He averaged 15.6 ppg on 46.4% from the field and 69.3% from the line, along with 8.5 rebounds and 2.3 blocks. Due to the combination of being snubbed by the McDonald’s All-American game coming out of high school and playing for a bad team in a relatively weak SEC this year, he remains under the mainstream radar.
He is a prototypical “tremendous upside potential” guy: long, quick, explosive, fluid. He can create his own shots, finish at the rim, and has a decent mid-range jumper. He also has great ball-handling skills for his size, and is left-handed to boot. He has drawn comparisons to Lamar Odom and Chris Bosh — not bad company, huh?
However, there is some downside. The most commonly cited issue is his weight and frame. Randolph did put on approximately 20 pounds during his freshman year; but scouts are concerned that his frame might not support much more. Another concern is that the LSU team was really a wreck last year; the chemistry was abysmal and coach John Brady was fired in mid-season. Now it’s certainly not fair for an 18 year old freshman to shoulder much blame for a team that went down the tubes, but for the sake of completeness, it bears mentioning. You know the saying: if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem
Randolph’s most glaring “weakness” is really his lack of experience and achievement. Beasley, Rose and Mayo played deep into their conference tournaments and the NCAA tournament, showed some leadership, and put up better numbers. Randolph is still very raw, and has a long way to go before becoming a contributor at an NBA level. Like Brandan Wright last year, Randolph will likely play limited minutes as a rookie while he refines his game and tries to get bigger and stronger. An NBA team needing some contribution from their lottery pick in his first year might need to look elsewhere.
DeAndre Jordan Center 7’0” 260 lbs 19 years old (7/21/88) Texas A&M
Jordan had a very freshman-like freshman season at Texas A&M, averaging 8 ppg on 61.7% shooting from the field while averaging only 20 minutes of playing time per game. He also added 6 rebounds and 1 block a game.
Jordan’s ticket to the lottery is his freakish athletic ability. He is seven feet tall with a good wingspan and a frame that will support more weight — thus making him a true center in the NBA. He is an explosive leaper with great quickness (for his size) and has shown a knack for rebounding. These abilities, combined with his size, have induced comparisons to Dwight Howard and pre-microfracture Amare Stoudamire.
I called Anthony Randolph a prototypical “tremendous upside potential” guy; that makes Jordan the quintessential “tremendous upside potential” guy. The risk-reward ratio is truly off the charts with him. He didn’t even start, and frankly achieved very little during his only year of college ball. He is extremely raw and hasn’t exhibited a very high “basketball IQ” to this point. His free throw percentage (43.7%) mingles with Ben Wallace’s. All of this would be fine if he had a reputation as a hard worker, right? Unfortunately, he has acquired the exact opposite rep.
Simply put: if a team with a mid-range lottery pick and some definite needs selects Jordan, they better be praying he pans out. If he turns out to be a bust, as many fear, said team will be set back several years and their front office folks will be looking for new jobs.
Here are some names to scare you: Patrick O’Bryant, Mouhamed Sene, Hilton Armstrong, Rafael Araujo and Robert Swift. Those are some of the centers selected in the mid-lottery over the past few years based on their untapped potential. Still waiting to be tapped — or maybe already tapped out in a couple of cases.
Kevin Love Power Forward 6’9” 255 19 years old (9/7/88) UCLA
Love averaged 17.5 ppg on 56% shooting from the field, 76.7% from the line and 35% from behind the arc in his freshman season. He also chipped in 10.6 boards, 1.9 assists and 1.4 blocks per game while playing a major role on one of the country’s best college squads.
Here’s the rundown on Love’s strengths: he has a very productive, well refined and well rounded offensive game. He shoots well from mid-range and the free throw line, and has an array of reliable low-post moves. He has a high basketball IQ and is an excellent passer. He is a hard worker with a solid attitude. He has been around basketball all his life, as his father is a former NBA player.
His major weakness is a relative lack of raw athletic ability. He is neither quick nor long, and is certainly not a great (or even good) leaper. This, combined with his height, will limit him to playing the 4 in the NBA. He actually needs to lose some weight and get quicker in order to play to his potential in the NBA. There have been some questions about his weight and conditioning, as well as some concerns about his knees. NBA muckety-mucks worry that Love has actually reached his ceiling as a player, and has no precious “upside” to speak of.
Basically sounds like the polar opposite of DeAndre Jordan (and Anthony Randolph, to a certain extent), right? For precisely this reason, in recent weeks Chad Ford has pegged Love as the Bobcats’ guy should he be available if/when they pick at #8 or #9. There’s a lot to like here, especially since Ford is reporting that Love is looking relatively svelte due to his pre-draft workout regimen. Not only does Love seem to fit the Bobcats need for an offensively-minded (but well-rounded) power forward, but he would seemingly be able to contribute in his rookie year — something that the generally rookie-phobic Larrry Brown is likely looking for.
However, I do think that there is one unexplored negative for Love as he relates specifically to the Bobcats. Go back and read the first few paragraphs on Love again. Sound like someone you know?
That’s right: Sean May — right down to the pedigree, the weight, and the knees.
If I were GM, and I felt relatively secure that Sean May will be able to resume his career and reach his potential as an NBA player, I’d swing big and pick Anthony Randolph. Randolph is the kind of mid-to-late lottery pick that has the potential to eventually become the best player in the draft. At the same time, there seems to be a pretty low chance that he’d be a complete bust, which is nice. If he really could eventually develop into a Chris Bosh or Lamar Odom type of player, he would fit very nicely alongside Okafor in the Bobcats frontcourt.
However, after thinking on it, I believe that Chad Ford is really onto something when he tags Kevin Love as the Bobcats’ pick at #8. He does fit our needs well, would be able to contribute (some) as a rookie, and generally seems like the smart, hard-working kind of player that Larry Brown likes. If Sean May is able to go, then you have two smart, smooth, strong power forwards in the rotation. If he’s not, then Love is a great (and possibly better) replacement.