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Big decision made with Clifford. Bigger decision coming with Draft

Steve Clifford has now been named the new coach of this young rebuilding movement in Charlotte and now all eyes are set towards the June 27th NBA Draft. Although the draft isn’t loaded with elite talent this season, the Bobcats cannot afford to strikeout on landing a prospect that will help the team moving forward.

Last Tuesday, Charlotte learned that they’ll draft 4th next month — unless they find a way to trade back, which would probably be ideal for just about any team in the top-5. With the 4th pick, there are a few presumptions that we can make about the first 3 — 1) Nerlens Noel + Ben McLemore will more than likely be off the draft board. 2) One team in the top-3 is going to make every attempt they can to move back in the draft, and with this field of underwhelming talent, that’s going to be a very difficult sell to other teams/buyers.

When considering those factors, it’s fair to assume that the Bobcats will be stuck with the 4th pick and choosing from these list of prospects — Otto Porter, Victor Oladipo, Anthony Bennett, C.J. McCollum, Alex Len, Cody Zeller & Steven Adams. Len probably has the most potential of this group because of his 7’1 frame + athleticism for a player of this size.

— ESPN’s Chad Ford on Len following the Draft Combine

Len was on crutches during his visit to the combine. He measured well with a nearly 7-foot-4 wingspan and was impressive in interviews by virtually all accounts. If he could work out, I think he’d have a shot at going No. 1. However, from what I’m told, he’s still in the mix with the Cavs for that top spot anyway. It’s hard to imagine him falling out of the top 10.

Well, if the Cavs are seriously considering Len at #1 overall, then certainly every team drafting soon after them would have to take a long look at the Maryland center, right? Yes and no. If Len was available at #4 then there’s no doubt that Charlotte would have a very difficult time on him, but let’s all remember that smokescreens are a seriously tool in every draft — especially valuable in a draft that doesn’t feature any shoe-in stars. If Cleveland could convince a front office that Len is really worth the top pick (which is highly unlikely) because of his athleticism/mobility for his size, then they’d have a chance of cashing in on that #1 pick. Again, that’s highly unlikely, and the only realistic scenario that would get any team out of the top-4 picks would include Cleveland, Orlando, Washington or Charlotte taking on a player salary that has multiple years left to give ‘X-team’ salary cap relief.

ESPN’s Ryen Russillo has thrown out a theoretical trade scenario that’s a good reference point to how one of these teams would be able to move back in the draft — Cleveland trades #1 overall pick for Luol Deng. Deng has approximately $28mil over 2 seasons left on his contract.

Charlotte really has no assets to package in a trade in order to move back, so let’s bank on the fact that they will be drafting at #4 unless they find their way into a deal that help two other teams facilitate some kind of trade. Most mock draft boards currently have Charlotte selecting Victor Oladipo with the 4th pick, and I couldn’t be anymore on-board with that idea. It sounded like a fit before the hiring of Steve Clifford, but Oladipo seems to be an even better fit since we’ve learned who the new head coach will be for this franchise. It should be obvious to most now that Cho is trying to build this roster with youth that are of a high character model — Oladipo is that. Along with the fact that there isn’t a player that brings more energy to the floor + great two position defender + a rapidly developing offensive player — this is as close to a no-brainer selection with the 4th pick as it gets to me (assuming he’s available).

The other name I’d like to focus on is Anthony Bennett. At 6’8, 240 lbs. he’s got a wide frame and is a terrific scorer from numerous spots on the floor. Very versatile offensively. Bennett is very explosive around the rim + can beat most defenders off the dribble to get there — he’s drawn comparisons to Larry Johnson, an ex-Charlotte Hornet great. Bennett really believes in his game and sometimes that can come back to bite him. One of his biggest weaknesses is his spotty shot selection + being a bit out of control on the offensive end from time-to-time. Although he’s versatile offensively, he doesn’t have great size (height) and lacks an effective post game offensively. Bennett is also spotty defensively with his effort — as you could imagine, that’s the biggest concern to me.

— Chad Ford on Bennett following the Draft Combine

Bennett wasn’t able to play at the combine, nor did he interview. The shoulder surgery doesn’t appear to bother teams much; it’s more about the fit. He has an NBA-ready game and should be a terrific scorer at the next level, but his lack of ideal size makes him a little more difficult to plug in. The Wizards, Bobcats, Suns and Pistons are all taking a serious look.

When we talk about guys who have star potential in the NBA out of this draft class, Bennett’s name is without doubt one that jumps off the page. Below is the DraftExpress scouting video for Bennett.

So, there’s the early outlook on what I can gather leading up to next months draft. Again, this draft isn’t loaded with talent, but don’t let that fool you — the Bobcats must capitalize on every opportunity they get to improve the roster at this point of the rebuilding process.