Kentucky’s Anthony Davis may be the most sure thing in the NBA draft since Lebron James and the Charlotte Bobcats have at least guaranteed themselves the best odds to land him through the NBA draft lottery.
Having a 25% chance to get the number one overall pick is great and all after this disastrous season, but in 2008 the Chicago Bulls had their names pulled out of the lottery for the first overall pick (which was Derrick Rose) and they technically had the ninth (1.7% chance) best odds at getting that pick going into the lottery. Moral of the story, anything can happen and Charlotte certainly isn’t a shoe in to be handed Davis on a silver platter.
In the case that the May 30th draft lottery does go terribly wrong, it’s vital for this franchise to have a plan B, C and D. Technically, Charlotte could fall down to the number four overall pick, but are guaranteed to fall no lower than that since they will end the regular season with the worst record in the league. Now, when you have completed one of the most brutal tanking jobs of all time, which this Charlotte franchise is about to do with the end of this season, it’s extremely important to hit a home run in the draft and that’s what the Bobcats are facing this summer. Here are the players that Michael Jordan, Rich Cho and Rod Higgins are likely looking at:
Thomas Robinson: If I had to guess, I’d say that this is the guy that’s second on the Bobcats big board. Robinson is a fiercecompetitor and his physical prowess suggest that he’s ready to come in and immediately make a difference for an NBA team. Defensively, Charlotte would drastically improve in their first season with Thomas Robinson in the lineup.
He spent three years at Kansas and drastically improved in his time playing under coach Bill Self. Robinson was barely ranked in the top-10 of his 2009 recruiting class, behind names such as Ryan Kelly, Milton Jennings and John Henson. Robinson didn’t really play a vital role for Kansas until this past season as a junior. In his freshman year Robinson only averaged 7.2 MPG, sophmore- 14.6 MPG, but last season the Jayhawks used Robinson as their anchor in the paint and used him 31.8 MPG. He also put up monster numbers last season, averaging 17.7 PPG and 11.9 RPG. Where Robinson is projected to be an immediate impact on the next level is making a huge difference defensively and on the glass.
- Strength/Physicality: Robinson is extremely strong and he exerts his strength to assert himself on the glass often. He also has great lift which allows him to rise up over taller centers to go get rebounds. Both of the attributes should allow him to guard taller players.
- Quickness: At 6’9, some scouts have suggested that Robinson is a bit undersized for the PF position in the league, but his quickness will help him make up for that. An evolving face up game that was put on display in the NCAA tournament should only continue to improve when he gets in the NBA and eventually Robinson should be able to go around taller, slower 4′s and 5′s.
- Attitude: The word on Robinson is that he’s a fierce competitor and extremely coachable. Not a whole lot of baggage.
Bradley Beal: If Charlotte somehow falls to number three in the draft, they’ll likely have their sights set on Beal. The reason I think Beal will be high on the Bobcats board is because of his ability to score. Bradley has very deep shooting range and is also a good ball handler which allows him to play some PG and get into the center of defenses, breaking them down.
He only spent one season at Florida, but that’s all he needed. This kid is ready for the next level. He has a rare combination in his game as a unreal shooter/scorer and is also a great rebounder considering he’s just 6’5. Beal averaged 6.7 RPG last season at Florida and this simply suggest that he’s got a knack for the ball, unafraid to go after it amongst the trees. The one negative from Beal’s one season in college was his inability to knock down the 3-ball. He shot only 34% from deep last season, which was very surprising considering he was recruited out of high school as being the best pure shooter in his class. I wouldn’t be too concerned about it considering how much Beal had to handle the ball last season with the Gators, but a lot of scouts wouldn’t agree.
- Athleticism: Beal is very athletic, which allows him to be so much more than just a good shooter. He can take defenders off the dribble and get down low among bigger players and make plays on the ball in the air. Beal’s athleticism also plays a role in his ability to play some PG in a pinch.
- Shooting: Beal drew comparisons to Ray Allen out of high school, so I think that speaks to itself with this guy’s ability to light it up.
- Work Ethic: The general word on Beal is that he’s got an exceptional work ethic. First guy in, last guy out kind of attitude. Like Robinson, if Beal does have a good reputation with most the NBA scouts leading all the way up to the draft then his potential as a player to go along with a good attitude will make him a shoe-in top-5 pick, no matter how the lottery falls.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist: This would be the absolute, worst case scenario for the Bobcats, but if they do somehow fall all the way to 4th Kidd-Gilchrist will certainly be in play for Charlotte unless he’s taken 3rd. Kidd-Gilchrist may be the fiercest competitor is this entire draft and if you watched any of the NCAA tournament you have a general idea of what I’m talking about.
The hustle factor is never short of being at full tilt with this guy. Kidd-Gilchrist is an exceptional on the ball defender with his quickness and physicality. Off the ball, Kidd-Gilchrist is just as good as he possesses a complete understanding of defensive concepts that will certainly translate to just about any NBA style.
Offensively is where Kidd-Gilchrist raises some debate. Last season at Kentucky, he used his physicality to bull his way towards the block and will the ball at the rim. He was great at it, but this obviously won’t be as effective in the NBA where players are much bigger and stronger. Kidd-Gilchrist isn’t an awful ball handler, but he also isn’t a great one either. He got very comfortable playing with his back to the basket in his one year in college and his face up game is somewhat limited. When he did face up against defenders last season, he almost always used a power dribble move to get directly to the rim. As a jump shooter Kidd-Gilchrist definitely has some room for improvement and mostly because he didn’t take many last season. The bottom line is that he won’t be able to bully his way towards and around the post area in the NBA all the time, so his perimeter game will have to improve. Kidd-Gilchrist rarely took 3′s in college, but the ones he did shoot ended in a 25.5% total.
- Motor: Kidd-Kilchrist can play with intensity, passion and physicality for 48 minutes most night’s when he gets to the league. Whichever coach has the privilege of coaching him on the next level is going to be spoiled due to the fact that he won’t have to worry about Michael playing as hard as he possibly can while he’s in the game.
- Basketball IQ: Michael is an extremely smart basketball player and knows what it means to make the right play. Defensively, KG is far above the average curve and could possibly be the best defensive player on his team (CHA, WAS, NOH, SAC) if he’s drafted in the top-4. Lateral quickness and physicality make him a great on-the-ball defender, but his understanding of team defense and always being in the right spot no matter where the ball is on the floor is what makes his a complete defensive asset. Offensively, I’ve noted that KG needs to develop some kind of outside shot, but he makes up for that extremely well by constantly using his aggressiveness and physicality to get high percentage shots close to the rim.
- Passion: As I mentioned earlier, KG will be some head coaches’ dream player. The word on this kid is that he loves the game and leaves everything on the floor, every time he goes out. If you watched any of Kentucky in the NCAA tournament, you saw nothing to make you think otherwise.
If the Bobcats don’t get the number one overall pick from the May 30th lottery it will certainly be a setback to the rebuilding process in Charlotte, but with the three high-ceiling prospects that are listed above, it’s clear that not all is lost and these guys have the potential to also be franchise changing talents.