Over the past couple of days, sentiment around the internet regarding Thursday’s draft has turned rather sour. John Hollinger gave us a smug two-part statistical analysis on this year’s prospects, showing the objective evidence behind the slides of Anthony Randolph and DeAndre Jordan, among others. Yesterday morning, Rick Bonnell took a dump in everyone’s cereal bowl by declaring predictions about the Bobcats’ draft picks a “waste of time [and] effort” and gloating about agents “outsmarting” themselves by not allowing certain teams to work out certain players.
Even Bill Simmons and Chad Ford, two unabashed NBA Draft fanatics, sounded like they were writing a eulogy for the 2008 draft class today when they did their interactive mock draft. Eventually, the negativity seemed to get to Ford, and he came to his senses:
I think calling this a bad draft may be an overreaction. Typically every team starts hating the next draft by July 1. By March, everyone loves it. And by June, when it comes time to make a choice, every team is deathly afraid of everyone in the draft.
It’s a strange phenomenon — sort of the equivalent of dating. When it comes time for commitment, every wart starts to show. This is altar fever. A week from now, everyone will be talking again about how great this draft is.
So let’s get over our cold feet, have some fun and waste some time and effort!
Without further ado, here’s a list of potential outcomes for the Bobcats’ #9 pick in Thursday’s draft, with their respective percentage chances of happening.
- Trade the pick to move up in the draft: 3%
Since Miami’s #2, Minnesota’s #3, Seattle’s #4, and Memphis’ #5 are all reportedly available for the right price, this is a possibility. A deal with Miami for the #2 pick makes a little sense. Charlotte could use the pick on Michael Beasley, whose skill set as a solid, all-around power forward who can score would be a nice fit in Charlotte. However, Beasley is no more a “Larry Brown guy” than he is a “Pat Riley guy”, and we would also likely have to take back Mark Blount and his contract, while giving up way too much in return. Not gonna happen.
The out-of-the-blue rumor of a deal for Minnesota’s #3 in exchange for #9 and Adam Morrison from this past weekend appears to have had no basis in reality, as it hasn’t been followed up on by any respectable source. It only makes sense if Beasley is available at #3, and Miami isn’t going to let that happen.
Another possibility would be trading up to ensure that we get Westbrook. That’s tough to predict, though, as Westbrook could go at #4, #6, or #7 — so how high do you have to trade up to in order to get him? There’s probably as much of a chance he will simply fall in our laps at #9.
- Trade the pick to move down in the draft: 2%
When Bonnell reported last week that the Bobcats liked Roy Hibbert, he speculated that they might try to acquire an extra pick later in the first round to get him. But Hibbert has been moving up the draft board himself, such that it might be easier to use the #9 pick to move down a handful of spots to get him, while picking up an extra player in the process.
Personally, I loathe this idea. I think Hibbert will be a huge disappointment in the current NBA landscape that favors guards and athleticism. He will challenge for the league lead in “Posterizations per 48 minutes” if Hollinger tracks it. Besides, we already have a decent backup center in Nazr Mohammed.
Alexis Ajinca and DJ Augustin would also be potential targets if the Bobcats traded down. Overall, I dislike this idea so much I can’t even bother myself to research any potential trading partners for such a deal.
- Make a deal involving the #9 pick for a veteran: 20%
We haven’t heard much about this possibility, but I do think there’s a fair chance it could happen — 20% seems about right. If the Bobcats could turn #9 and another piece or two from the roster into a talented veteran power forward like Rasheed Wallace, Jermaine O’Neal or Elton Brand I think they will probably do it. Of course, all of those talented veterans have issues: Rasheed’s old and O’Neal and Brand are coming off injuries; but that’s the reason they’re available. Despite the risks that they carry, any of these veterans would be a bigger help to the Bobcats over the next couple of years than the #9 pick would be.
Also, what about a less dramatic deal: Charlie Villanueva is not as accomplished as the previously mentioned guys, but fits the Bobcats needs pretty well. He’s currently buried behind Yi Jianlian in Milwaukee and doesn’t seem like a Scott Skiles kind of guy. Would Milwaukee be interested in the #9 pick for him?
- Keep the #9 pick and select Brook Lopez: 25%
A few days ago, I might have put this at 30-35%, as Lopez was dropping to #9 in virtually every mock draft known to man. However, I’ve seen just as many in the past couple of days that have either Westbrook, Bayless or Gordon falling with Lopez going in the #4-5 range.
I still don’t think Lopez is an ideal fit. No matter how many times Chad Ford insists that the Bobcats are looking for a center so Okafor can be moved to power forward, anyone who watched the Bobcats much last year knows that Okafor can’t guard the more mobile, athletic power forwards in the league. It’s best to play him at center, let him rebound and guard the basket, and pair him with an athletic and offensively inclined, but ultimately well-rounded power forward. Alas, if Westbrook is gone and Lopez is available, Lopez should and will be the pick.
- Keep the #9 pick and select Kevin Love: 13%
After being projected to go to Memphis at #5 for some time now, a new development has slightly increased the chance that Love could slip to #9. That development is, of course, the rumored deal whereby Miami sends the #2 pick (Beasley) and Daequan Cook to Memphis for the #5, Mike Miller and Kyle Lowry or Mike Conley. Miami would then take Brook Lopez or Jerryd Bayless (probably Lopez) at #5. It’s an interesting trade for both teams, and would mean that Love could slip down to the Bobcats at #9. Love is actually a nice fit for the Bobcats in regards to both skill set and intangibles.
- Keep the #9 pick and select Anthony Randolph: 2%
It’s been pretty sad to hear about Randolph’s workout season. He’s hiding his bony physique under big t-shirts, allegedly looking lost in some basic basketball drills, and testing poorly on the psychometric measures that teams use. To top it off, he reportedly has some self awareness about his shortcomings, and has lost confidence along the way. His stock has slipped to the point that he’s likely not going to be a lottery pick. The current conventional wisdom is that he needs a couple years of development to be a contributor at the NBA level, and a couple of years beyond that to reach his full potential. Not the guy for the Bobcats at this point.
- Keep the #9 pick and select Russell Westbrook: 33%
If he’s available, I believe he’ll be the pick. I’ve talked myself into him being a sparkplug off the bench with the ability to run the point while spelling Felton, while also being able to play with him in a smallball lineup. If he’s there at #9, he’ll most likely be the most talented player available, and he fits a need (though not ideally) to boot. His quickness and strong defense would be a nice addition to the backcourt rotation. Larry Brown is said to be enamored with him. All signs point to yes.
The problem is, I’m not at all counting on him being available at #9. Several other teams above us in the draft are said to be interested, and depending on how things pan out, he might be long gone.
- Something else???: 2%
As exhaustive as I’ve tried to be (I’m exhausted… you?) there’s certainly the chance I’ve missed something here. Jerryd Bayless? Danilo Gallinari?
So there you go. I guess my official prediction is Russell Westbrook with the #9 pick and Richard Hendrix with the #38 pick — no trades. Can’t wait to find out if I’m right.