The man pictured here is Adam Morrison, drafted by the Charlotte Bobcats before this past season to be the face of the franchise. But after seeing this photograph, does that seem like a good thing? You may be thinking that he was caught at an emotional time, following a particularly tough loss, and it is a good thing that he cares so much. However, this picture was not taking after a game had ended: It was taken during a timeout in his last collegiate game. The situation: His team down 2 with 2.6 seconds left on the clock. So, I ask again, is this really who the Bobcats should have picked to be the face of the franchise?
In my opinion, the answer is no. A better choice for the team would have been to select Brandon Roy, another college basketball star of the Pacific Northwest. I base this assertion on 3 main criteria for drafting a player:
#1 – Ability – how talented a player is and how talented they might become
#2 – Team needs – what position is a team weak at
#3 – Financial Concerns – How marketable a player is and their affect on ticket sales
I am here to tell you that Roy was a better selection than Morrison in all these fields.
All numbers are extrapolated from season averages to 40 minutes per game
A/TO – Assist per turnover
PPS – points per shot
Wasn’t Adam Morrison the leading scorer in the country and a candidate for national player of the year? Yes, he was, averaging 28.1 points per game. Brandon Roy averaged “only” 20.2 points, so Morrison is obviously the better basketball player, right? No. The chart above shows their respective numbers normalized to 40 minutes per game; as Morrison, played 15% more minutes per game than Roy, I want to make this an apple to apple comparison. In every category except points scored, Roy is Morrison’s equal or better, including the last column, points per shot. That statistic accounts for how effectively a player scores, independent of number of shots. It appears that that Roy was just as good at scoring; he just did it a little less often. He did contribute to his team more than Morrison though his passing, ball-handling and defensive skills, leading me to consider him a better overall player, at least at the college level.
But what about potential at the professional level? Brandon Roy tested significantly better athletically than Morrison did at the NBA’s pre-draft camp. Roy was more explosive, with a 40.5” vertical leap to Morrison’s 30.5”, as well as quicker, completing the lane agility drill in 11.13 seconds to 11.46 for Adam. Morrison was the stronger of 2, bench pressing 185 pounds 11 times to 6 for Roy. When considering the sport, though, and the positions played, strength is less of a concern than the other categories. In addition to being a superior athlete, Roy does not have the medical concerns that Morrison does, who is diabetic. The combination of health worries and average (at best) athleticism makes Morrison less likely to succeed professionally than Roy. So, I’ve established that Roy is better suited for the NBA than Morrison, but was he better suited for the Bobcats?
At Adam Morrison’s position of small forward, the Bobcats have Gerald Wallace, a rising talent in the league and arguably the Bobcats best overall player. Because of Morrison’s slow feet, Gerald would be forced to play at shooting guard. This would take him further away from the basket, where he is best used. Roy, on the other hand, would play shooting guard, and could even play some point guard. At shooting guard, he would move the Bobcats weakest starter, Matt Carroll, to the bench, where his shooting ability could be used more effectively. It is clear that Roy would fill a gap for the Bobcats and improve their overall team. But who would fill more seats?
The Bobcats believed that because of the television exposure that Morrison received, he would generate increased interest in the franchise and increase ticket sales. This was very important to the team, because in their first season in the new downtown arena, and second overall, they averaged only 16,366 fans per game, which was in the bottom third of the league, and even that number is inflated from ticket giveaways. However, along with that television exposure, Morrison was given the opportunity to express himself a bit more than the average college athlete:
-Among his heroes, he counts Che Guevara and Karl Marx
-He responded to his coach telling the team to attend church by writing “Religion is the opiate of the masses” on the team whiteboard
Neither of these revelations would endear him to the members of the Bible belt.
In the first 10 home games of Morrison’s rookie year, the team drew 14,000 fans a game, even worse than the season before.
In reality, a single player was not what was going to draw fans to the team; the city had rallied around the Hornets even though they were bad, because they were new. However, by the time they left, fans had become accustomed to winning teams that consistently made the playoffs. What the Bobcats needed was a player who would help them win. Roy would have: This past season, he missed 25 games due to injury, and his team was only 9 and 16 in those games, a 36% winning percentage. In games he played, they were 23 and 34, a 40% winning percentage. Morrison, on the other hand? Well, he only missed 4 games, so I have to base this on the number of minutes played; in games Morrison played 25 or more minutes: 20 wins and 37 losses, a 35% winning percentage. When Morrison played less than 25 minutes a game, the team was 13 and 12, a 52% clip. A large number of those games that Morrison played little role in occurred at the end of the season, hence they were winning more and winning brought the fans to the game, as the team averaged 16,200 fans a game over the last 10 home games. A winning team matters more to the bottom line than a well known face.
In conclusion, Brandon Roy was a better overall college player and better suited to the pro game than Adam Morrison. Roy would have been a better fit on the team than Morrison was. And based off their rookie seasons, Roy would have helped the team win more than Morrison, helping the Bobcats sell more tickets, which they had aimed to do by drafting Adam. One of the Bobcats players said before this past season began that he thought the team would make the playoffs. He was laughed at by the local and national media. But he would have been right, if only the Bobcats would have gotten the right man for the job.