Charlotte Bobcats Draft Retrospective | Part One


Editor’s Note: What you are about to read is a grotesque lesson in abject NBA failure. It is not suitable for children under the age of 12, readers who are pregnant or for those weak of heart. If, by coincidence, any reader is to one day become involved with running a professional sports franchise, it is our hope that he or she would refer back to this epic tragedy in the hopes of avoiding the (seemingly obvious) pitfalls of this moribound organization. Finally, if this column is to ever appear in printed form, it is highly suggested that the publishers bundle it with a barf bag.

The Charlotte Bobcats will participate in their tenth NBA Draft on June 27th, 2013. In their previous nine drafts, the team has selected in the first round a total of twelve times, producing exactly zero All-Star appearances which have in turn produced a total of zero Playoff victories for the franchise. Think about that. The Bobcats organization has drafted in the first round a dozen times, ten of which were Lottery selections, and have produced not a single player who has sniffed an All-Star game. Once more: Ten Lottery Selections, Zero All-Star appearances. Needless to say, it takes a special sort of ineptitude to accomplish such a feat. So, without further ado, let’s have a look at how they did it:

Part One: ’04-’06 The Bickerstaff Era

In one of the few sound (and by sound, I mean not horrendous) decisions Bob Johnson ever made as owner of the team, longtime coach and personnel director Bernie Bickerstaff was hired to shape the newborn franchise in the combined role of general manager/coach during the franchise’s infancy. Bernie actually got the team off to a decent drafting start but, as we will learn, the success didn’t last for very long…

The 2004 Draft: Emeka Okafor F/C UConn, Bernard Robinson SF Michigan.

How It Played Out: Bickerstaff used his connections with the Clippers organization to swing a nice pre-Draft deal, moving the 4th overall selection (Shaun Livingston) and two future second rounders to L.A. for the 2nd overall pick (Okafor) plus Eddie House and Melvin Ely. The Clips were on a failed mission to sign Kobe Bryant and needed to clear cap space pronto. Bernie jumped at the opportunity to make Okafor the face of the league’s newest franchise.

Amazing as it sounds, Emeka probably ranks as the Bobcats most successful Draft choice to date despite little development beyond his Rookie of the Year season. A combination of management overpaying him for no apparant reason (bidding against themselves) in conjunction with the hiring of yoga-hater Larry Brown derailed what could have a been a long career in Charlotte. Okafor is no superstar but as a kind of poor-man’s David Robinson/rich-man’s Udonis Haslem, Emeka could have anchored the team’s interior defense for a decade or more. Intelligent and photogenic, Okafor was also the perfect PR representitive for a team trying desperately to connect with a reticent fanbase.

As the Cats’ inaugural second round choice, Robinson contributed few meaningful minutes and was out of league after just three seasons.

How It Should Have Played Out: The Okafor selection aside, the Cats missed out on a major opportunity to land another Lottery pick via a capped stretched Phoenix team who were shopping the Draft’s 7th overall pick for the very reasonable price of a protected future first rounder. The Suns ended up making a deal with Chicago for what ended up being the 21st pick in the ’05 Draft. The Bulls selected Duke freshman Luol Deng seventh; two picks later Arizona sophmore Andre Iguodala went to the Sixers. Given the team’s needs and talent available, it’s unknown why Charlotte wasn’t more aggressive with an offer; perhaps Bickerstaff felt the franchise’s top expansion draftee, Gerald Wallace, would develop into the long term starter.


The 2005 Draft: Raymond Felton PG UNC, Sean May PF UNC.

While most point to the 2006 Draft as THE PIVOTAL MOMENT that set the franchise back half a decade, I would argue that it was the 2005 Draft that had the greater impact.

How It Played Out: The seeds of destruction were planted that May, as the league’s Lottery system punished Bickerstaff for keeping the Bobcats competitive in their inaugaral season, pushing their 2nd worst overall record back to pick number five. There was a bit of good news however: as a result of an expansion draft day trade with the Suns, the Bobcats had acquired Cleveland’s 13th overall selection via Phoenix, giving the Bobcats two lottery picks in the same draft – more than enough ammunition to move up and grab one of college basketball’s elite Point Guards (Deron Williams, Chris Paul) should a deal become available. One did. And Bickerstaff turned it down.

You all know the story: Having been rejected by Charlotte, Portland instead traded the third overall selection to Utah for the 6th and 27th picks. The Jazz took Williams at three, New Orleans selected Chris Paul at four, while the Bobcats (in desperate need of a franchise PG) reached for Raymond Felton at number five.

At the time, Bickerstaff believed that the team was in need of quantity over quality. This made as little sense then as it does now. The NBA isn’t the NFL, there is no 53 man roster to fill out. Only five players can play at once. Regular season rotations max out at 10 and shrink even further during the postseason. It was a hugely obvious and irrepreable mistake.
Eight seasons later, Paul is the greatest PG on the planet, Williams is a sometimes-superstar and Felton is a solid player who the Knicks were able to sign off the street for a partial mid-level contract. To make matters worse, the “quantity” number 13 pick Bickerstaff was so excited about ended up being more “quantity” than his knees could ever handle.

Sean May had played his way into the Lottery with a big-time Final Four performance that landed he and teammate Felton a NCAA Championship (that’s three first round picks, three NCAA champions, Zero All-Star appearances if you’re counting), but the work ethic and health concerns that dinged May’s rep pre-Tourney showed up almost immediately into his pro career. Despite some solid performances in orange & blue (including two monster games against Cleveland and Orlando on national television), May ate his way out of the league in just a few seasons.

How It Should Have Played Out: One can only imagine the impact drafting Paul (a local guy with family in the Charlotte area) would have had on the team’s success and reputation, on Okafor and Wallace’s development and on the development of the fanbase. Even if CP3 would have forced his way out as he did in New Orleans two summers ago, the Cats would have likely received major assets in return — unlike the bounty they received for May and Felton, which was absolutely nothing. Future NBA GMs of America take note: Quality ALWAYS wins out over Quantity.


The 2006 NBA Draft: Adam Morrison SF Gonzaga, Ryan Hollins C UCLA

How It Played Out: Let’s put it this way, the team’s 2nd round pick in ’06 (Ryan Hollins, 50th overall) is still in the league three years after their 1st round pick (Adam Morrison, 3rd overall) hopped a one-way train to Eastern Europe. In fairness to Bickerstaff, the Ammo selection was likley influenced by Michael Jordan, who had only weeks prior to the Draft purchased a significant portion of the team from Johnson. MJ’s “great white hope” certainly didn’t start out as a bust. I was there opening night when Morrison nailed his first NBA shot, a near half court buzzer beater that sent the crowd into a frenzy. Morrison spent the next 81 games doing basically what everyone thought he’d do coming out of Gonzaga: score in bunches and play terrible defense. Overall, it was an up and down season in which Ammo would typically go for 20 points one night, followed by a 2 point, 1-10 night the next. His brightest moment came in a late December game against Indy in which the rook dropped thirty on 9-17 shooting, earning an impressive ten points from the line.

Cut to Los Angeles, ten months later: Morrison blows out his ACL guarding Luke Walton in a pre-season game, effectively ending his NBA career. The following season Charlotte would ship Ammo (along with Shannon Brown) to the Lakers for Vladimir “Radman” Radmanovic, leaving Morrison to ride out his rookie deal on L.A.’s high-profile pine. (SIDE NOTE: Being that Hollywood is the land of happy endings, Phil, Kobe and Pau made sure to slip a couple of Championship rings into Morrison’s Euro-bound suitcase as a parting gift.)

How It Should Have Played Out: The pick was a disaster for two reasons: 1.) The other players the Bobcats seriously considered drafting were Brandon Roy and Rudy Gay. 2.) The team already had a young SF prospect in Gerald Wallace.

This second point is key: Just 12 months earlier, Bickerstaff was preaching quantity over quality yet by selecting Morrison, Bernie doubled up on a position of strength. Had Bickerstaff stuck (or been allowed to stick) to his philosophy, the Cats could have simply selected Roy and slid him next to Felton, Crash and Okafor to form a nice young core. Four amazing seasons with a healthy Roy (which included a Rookie of the Year campaign and three All-Star selections) could have ignited the dormant local fanbase and put the team on the national NBA map. Instead, Morrison cemented the laughing stock status of both the Bobcats as a franchise and MJ as an Exec. Place the blame on Bernie or his Air-ness, either way this Draft was a fail of epic proportions.




POLL : Best Bobcats Draft Pick

  • Emeka Okafor (9%, 27 Votes)
  • Kemba Walker (62%, 188 Votes)
  • Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (11%, 32 Votes)
  • Raymond Felton (4%, 13 Votes)
  • Gerald Henderson (14%, 41 Votes)

Total Voters: 301

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The Trouble with D.J.


Sources tell me the Bobcats have an opportunity to sign a starting PG capable of averaging 15ppg with a stellar 2:1 assist to turnover ratio. He shoots better than 33% from downtown, nails 90% of his freebies and has a true shooting percentage of 54%. Excited yet? Well good news Bobcats fans, they do and his name is D.J. Augustin. You probably remember him from his previous stint with Charlotte, y’know, just a few months ago. While his name may not have the allure of “Jerryd Bayless” or “Goran Dragic“, it’s through not fault of his own. Just as in our personal relationships, things can go stale as they become overly familiar and the story of Darryl Gerard is no different.

2010-2011. The only season that matters.

It was November 2010, the Bobcats had just come off of their inaugural Playoff berth. How did they celebrate? By cleaning house of course. You see, Michael Jordan, Larry Brown and Rod Higgins had received a secret memo from the league office detailing a mysterious concept referred to as a “Salary Cap”. Turns out you can’t keep taking on other team’s heinous contracts forever. Yes readers, the organization was shoved into a corner financially, forcing them to let 2005 Lottery point guard Raymond Felton walk without any compensation and salary-dumping future Defensive Player of the Year Tyson Chandler to the soon to be NBA Champ Dallas Mavericks in what might be the WORST trade in Charlotte Pro Sports history.

The one positive to come from all of this pre-Rich Cho nonsense was that third year prospect D.J. Augustin was finally given a chance to lead the team. For those of you who don’t remember, I’ll sum it up: He did great. Not Derrick Rose great mind you but Charlotte Bobcat Lottery Pick great. D.J. scored, dished, stretched the court, amassing the stats referred to above. He did this during a year of turmoil which saw his coach fired, his team’s only “star” traded, a season in which Kwame Brown started 50 games--that in and of itself should be enough to earn a lucrative contract extension.

But here it is July 9th, 2012 and D.J. doesn’t have a contract; not even a rumoured one. He’s technically a free agent and any team in the league may sign him to an offer sheet yet no one has. Last season didn’t help. Augustin missed twenty starts due to injury and had yet another Bobcat Lottery point guard waiting in the wings. “What more must I do?” he must have asked. “Two coaches, two point guard controversies in four years, a completely gutted roster and now they want to low-ball me in free agency after practically destroying my market value.” Extreme? Maybe. I would rest my case on the one year in which the team fully committed to D.J. Augustin, he delivered.

As it stands now, neither side is close to “winning” this game- Cho’s rebuilding project has decimated the roster and players like Augustin aren’t built to carry the entire load. Thus his value is negated and can’t be showcased properly for potential suitors. He’s like the complex film plot that can’t be sold in a thirty second trailer. Put D.J. on a decent team and he’s probably at worst in the Kyle Lowry zone.

The Bobcats, meanwhile, are at risk of losing yet another asset without compensation. Signing him to play for the qualifying offer won’t help either – “Wait, so you’re forcing me to play another season for less than market value, lose a ton of games and probably play behind a guy not yet quite as good as me? AND some other rookie wants to wear my number? SOUNDS GREAT!”

Best case scenario for both Augustin and the organization is either a sign & trade for another decent prospect or draft pick. If that type of offer isn’t on the table, I’d prefer the team to sign him to a reasonable $5-$6million per year deal and let the two PGs battle it out for supremacy. Augustin will turn 25 during next season and has shown marked improvement during his development. If he plays lights out, trade him in the summer or entertain offers for Kemba Walker. Either way both sides have something to show for the tumultous journey that they’ve traveled together.


Another Half-Hearted Effort in Indy


Bobcats sorta show up against the Pacers Friday night and kinda try to stay in the game until finally losing a winnable game against an okay Indy team 100-92.

AP Recap | Box Score

In the tradition of the Bobcats effort of late, I’m gonna sorta attempt this recap.  Basically the Bobcats are good enough to stay in games and win a few of them when they feel like it and aren’t bad enough to be blown out.  After tonight’s loss, the Pacers are 3.5 games up on the Cats for 7th seed in the East.  I’ll be honest, I really tried watching all 48 minutes of this game but the effort was just so poor that I found myself reading about Julian Assange and his amazing ability to have sex with a woman in her sleep.  Stephen Jackson should know something about this, Pressure ain’t been made love to in a long time.


  • I hope word comes that Gerald Wallace (who quietly had a big statistical night @26/13) has been nursing some sort of nagging injury during the first month of the season ’cause he looks as slow and grounded as I’ve seen from him in six years.  Two mis-played finishes around the basket (one from a pass inside from JAX during the 2nd and one on a putback attempt in the 3rd) would have been highlight dunks just a few years ago.  The good news is that Crash is still driving and still working for boards.  I just hope that Wallace hasn’t permanently moved on from the explosiveness of years past.
  • The one major highlight for me so far this season has been watching D.J. Augustin transform into a real deal NBA starting point.  Even though he had a relatively quiet night (8pts, 5asts), you can see that he’s figuring it out fast.  I know that Raymond is having a career year up in NYC (albeit in D’Antoni-Land*) but within the next two seasons I’d bet that D.J. becomes the better all-around player…
  • …That said, it might be time for us to declare Raymond a natural born winner.  He did it on the collegiate level and pushed a mediocre Bobcats team to the Playoffs last season and is doing solid work with a 15-9 squad in Manhattan this season.  Just hope he doesn’t have to go against Jameer again in the first round.
  • 7 Turnovers for Stephen Jackson in this one.  Enough already.  You can’t have three players who handle the rock as much as JAX, Crash and Boris Diaw average 9 TOs per game.  In comparison, Boston’s big three of Pierce/Garnett/Allen only average 4.4 a contest.  Gotta put the blame solely on Coach Brown for this one.  You’ve had two seasons to figure this out and the team is still coughing up the ball at a horrendous rate.

You gotta believe that LB and MJ are working the phones in order to salvage the season.  The Playoffs are still within reach (barely) but the team will need to make a solid run by the All-Star break in order to separate from a crowded pack.  The current configuration just isn’t putting in the extra effort that made last year’s team overachieve.

Until Next Time, Enjoy the Loss Bobcats Fans,


Bobcats Drop Second In A Row To Knicks


The Bobcats lose again to the streaking Knicks, 99-95.  The Cats played terribly for 40 minutes, but made a furious run midway through the fourth quarter.  They were able to cut the lead to one point two different times late in the game, but couldn’t break through.  The Cats fall to 5-10 on the season.

AP Recap |  Box Score


  • In an effort to match up with Amar’e Stoudemire and the D’Antoni-ball Knicks, Tyrus Thomas got the start over Nazr Mohammed, who pulled a DNP-CD.  Thomas played well and led the way for the Cats with 26 points and 11 rebounds — but that was about the only bright spot for the home team.
  • Raymond Felton made a nice return to Charlotte for himself, contributing 23 points and 13 assists to help push the Knicks to their fifth straight win.  But please don’t overinterpret the results of these two games; Raymond is still Raymond.  He shot marginally and a lot (9-18 FG) to get those 23 points and had 6 turnovers to go along with those assists.  And the Bobcats would be deep in salary cap hell had they paid for him in the offseason.
  • Amar’e had 20 points on 15 shots, but surprisingly was a beast tonight on the defensive end with 6 blocks.  Of course it helps that the Bobcats collectively (save Tyrus Thomas) go to the rack with perhaps the weakest crap in the league.  Even the once-explosive Gerald Wallace recently seems reduced to picking up offensive fouls or getting his shots blocked (or even back-rimming dunks, as he did on Tuesday night).
  • Speaking of Gerald, is dude hurt?  Just 8 points/8 rebounds in 40 minutes tonight, and has not looked like himself for several games.  At the very least, he’s in some kind of funk.
  • And if Gerald is in a funk, then we need Stephen Jackson to pick up the slack to even have a chance. However, Jack shot poorly tonight (7-20 FG) and poured in 5 turnovers.  Triple-double against the Suns aside, Jack appears a step or three slow this year.  It takes him an eternity to wind up his long jumpers, ensuring a strong close-out from the nearest defender.  And if he gets his man in the air on an up-fake on the perimeter, his move to go around happens in almost-slow-motion.
  • Sorry for the pessimism, Baseliners, but things aren’t looking good right now.  The 2009-10 Bobcats would have won this game, but this year’s edition doesn’t play with the same chemistry or defensive intensity.  Next chance to right the ship is on Friday night at home against the equally disappointing Houston Rockets.

-Dr. E

D.J. Wins the Battle but Raymond Wins the War in New York


The Bobcats lose the Contrast of Styles, forsaking their own deliberate pacing in favor of Mike D’Antoni’s full court whirling dervish as the Knicks take the first of a home and home 110-107 in New York.

AP Recap | Box Score


  • Say what you will about no-calls, missed layups, bad bounces,etc, the Bobcats insistence in playing the Knicks at their own up-tempo game was what did them in this evening.  Charlotte went into this game averaging just 95 points a contest while the Knicks have logged around 107 per.  This isn’t the type of game that Larry Brown wants to play and you could see it in the turnovers (combined 38) and mis-timed long rebounds.  It didn’t help that the Knicks dominated from the stripe, shooting 24-25 while limiting the Bobcats to just 13-18, this style just doesn’t suit a grind it out Bobcats team.  Here’s hoping that Larry Brown can control the pace when the Cats are back at home on Wednesday.
  • Big story of the night is Augustin’s (perhaps) finest performance as a pro.  Drives, Jumpers, Assists, Steals, Wow Moments.  D.J. did it all Tuesday night and looked like a real deal NBA starting point guard.  24 points, 7 assists, 5 boards and 4 steals is something to get excited about.  D.J. hit a few spectacular drive & acrobatic spin shots during the second half to spark the Bobcats fourth quarter run.  I’ve never seen him finish around the rim with this consistency.  On defense, he rarely got caught going underneath a screen (his major flaw early in the season) and played his man tight.  Augustin was the only Bobcats starter to finish with a positive plus minus (+4).
  • Stephen Jackson with another quiet night.  My Two Cents: For the Bobcats to have any success this year, JAX will need to wake up and realize that the refs are PURPOSEFULLY taking him out of the games.  Once he decides to stop griping at the obvious no-calls and focus on what he can do in the game itself, then he’ll be a much better player for it.  I’m sure Coach Brown has brought it up but if JAX doesn’t figure this out soon, he’ll continue to be a borderline liability when he’s out on the floor.
  • D’Antoni has so many young guys like Toney Douglas and Bill Walker who can slash and then step out for the three. Ganillari included.  Landry Fields was the find of the 2nd Round.  He’s a legitimate Trevor Ariza type wing player and really hurt the Bobcats on both ends of the court while containing Stephen Jackson.  Toney Douglas rained in 5 threes and notched 22 points in 24 minutes.  I really like the wings on this team.  Can only imagine what they’ll be able to do if they can get Anthony Randolph healthy and playing like he did in limited minutes with Golden State.  Knicks might be very good.  If they can recruit Chris Paul next year?  Maybe Contenders.
  • Raymond Felton.  He’s the John Fox School of PG: “He is what he is.”  Solid defensively, poor shooter (5-13), adequate distributor but nothing special.  He’s Derek Fisher and I’m still waiting for the day when the Lakers acquire him to run the team for the next five years or so.
  • Shaun Livingston playing some off guard tonight.  Not certain if that’s going to last though with Shaun’s shaky outside stroke but this evening it worked as Knee-Man went for 11 points and 5 boards, causing all sorts of matchup problems for the Knicks backcourt.  Perhaps a bigger “What If” than if Shaun had not been injured would be What If Livingston could ever develop a solid outside jumper.  He might be an All-Star.  Just shoot right over the top of the smaller guards while mixing it up with a post up or two.

Bobcats drop to 5-9 and will need to start notching some Ws before too much longer.  Seven teams are now tied for the 8th spot in the Conference with 8 wins a piece and if the ‘Cats don’t do something soon to separate themselves, the Playoffs could become out of reach as soon as the New Year.  The East has become much more formidable.

Until Next Time, Enjoy the Loss Bobcats Fans…