The 2011-2012 Charlotte Bobcats are widely considered to be the worst basketball team of all time. At 7-59 in a lockout shortened season, their winning percentage was .106, a record for futility. The odds of obtaining the first pick in the 2012 NBA draft–and a guaranteed franchise player in the University of Kentucky’s Anthony Davis–were ever in their favor.
Fate had other ideas.
The New Orleans Hornets, the franchise that abandoned Charlotte years earlier (due in large part to the very public fallout from an affair then-owner George Schinn had with one of the team’s cheerleaders, or “Honeybees”) won the pick. The Bobcats, the worst team of all-time, would select second.
The University of Kentucky Wildcats–famous of late for housing coach John Calipari’s one-and-done NBA product assembly line–had just won the NCAA championship, led not by freshman Anthony Davis, but by another freshman, Michael Kidd-Gilchrest, who stepped up in the NCAA Tournament when Davis faltered.
It was Kidd-Gilchrest who the Bobcats would take with their number two pick, passing up Florida freshman sensation Bradley Beal (a 2018 NBA All-Star), Weber State’s Damian Lillard (a Rookie of the Year and three-time All-Star), Connecticut freshman Andre Drummond (a former All-Star), and Draymond Green, the NABC Player of the Year from Michigan State (a three-time NBA All-Star, two time All-NBA section, the 2017 Defensive Player of the Year, and two-time NBA champion).
Drafting Michael Kidd-Gilchrist because he dominated the NCAA title game was a risky move, but not an unprecedented one for the franchise (see: Kemba Walker, or perhaps the modern-day equivalent–drafting Malik Monk because he had the game of his life against UNC on national television). Hindsight being 20/20, it is easy to argue that the Bobcats should have selected Damian Lillard (despite the fact that they already had Kemba Walker) or Draymond Green (who is a much better MKG than MKG, but who also slipped to the second round), but the consensus media pick at the time was Bradley Beal. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist wasn’t a terrible pick at the time, but he was no Anthony Davis.
That’s not a knock on MKG. Anthony Davis is likely a once-in-a-generation type of player, a player who loves Charlotte, has family in Charlotte, and definitely should have been a Charlotte Bobcat. Over his career, the Brow has averaged 22.8 ppg, 10.2 rpg, and 2.3 blocks, versus MKG’s 9.3 ppg, 6.2 rpg, and 0.8 blocks. A comparison of advanced analytics wouldn’t be fair to put into print.
I bring this brief comparison up in the aftermath of the latest Pelicans vs. Hornets game because matchups between the two teams always leave me wondering what could have been. An Eastern Conference franchise built around Kemba Walker and Anthony Davis would have been fun to watch, to say the least. The stuff dreams are made of for Hornets fans.
I will leave you with a couple questions:
- Pelicans is still a terrible name for a team, am I right?
2) Does anyone else wonder if Michael Jordan traded the top pick to New Orleans for the right to bring the Hornets name back to Charlotte?
2b) Would you rather have the Hornets name and colors back or Anthony Davis in a Bobcats jersey?