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QCH Pre-Draft 3-on-3

3-on-3 TrueHoop NetworkThe draft is just 10 days away — we’re just as anxious as you at this point, so Greg, Mathew and I took some time to give our thoughts as to what’s going to play out  leading up to + on June 27th.

1- PLAY GM: Who do you take with the #4 pick? We’re going to assume that Nerlens Noel, Ben McLemore & Otto Porter go in top-3.

Spencer: Victor Oladipo. I really like Anthony Bennett + Alex Len upside is undeniable, but Oladipo is going to impact the game is more ways than Bennett & Len — that makes him the safest pick. It’s tough, because Charlotte needs the assets that all three of these players bring to the table — that also tells you what kind of shape this roster is in right now.

I’m really big on character. I’m even bigger on character within a very young locker room — exactly why I think a player like DeMarcus Cousins is an awful fit for a franchise like Charlotte, but that’s for another day.

Oladipo has a killer charisma to him + almost every source out of the Big 10 and college basketball has vouched for this. The biggest knock on Oladipo is his skeptical ability to knock down the outside shot consistently + make plays off the dribble. He shot 60% from the field last season + jumped to 44% 3FG from his 20.8% in 2011-12. I understand that these are really big jumps in shooting efficiency, so yes, this could be somewhat of an outlier — that being said, when you factor in that Oladipo is as hard of a worker as they come then, to me, there’s a direct correlation to the improvement and hard work being put in.

Taking Oladipo would likely mean that Gerald Henderson is gone, but I believe the franchise is already leaning in that direction anyways. Hendo is likely going to get an offer for greater than his qualifying deal and good for him. Charlotte not going to waste their time chasing.

What bothers me about Bennett is his inability to stay in-tuned on the defensive end of the floor + his lackluster effort on occasion. He can score in a multitude of ways and is probably the most versatile offensive player in the entire draft, but again, this franchise needs to be thinking about acquiring players with the ability to impact the game in just about every way + is going to bring the positive attitude/effort combination.

Len is now being rumored to be the favorite to go #1 overall to Cleveland because of the fact that Dan Gilbert wants the Cavs to win now and it’s not appearing as if Nerlens Noel is even going to play next season (knee injury).

Greg: If that’s how the first three picks play out, it’s basically a decision between Victor Oladipo, Anthony Bennett and Alex Len. I’ve already written a little bit about why I’m scared of picking Bennett, though David Thorpe does make a compelling argument for the Bobcats to take him in this Insider article.

Picking between Oladipo and Len comes down to taking the best player available, full stop, or making a choice that takes team fit into consideration. I don’t think either strategy is necessarily wrong. In the abstract, the best player available is always the correct decision — but real life is a lot messier, even on a team with as little talent as the Bobcats.

Most pundits would probably rank Oladipo as the better prospect; for what it’s worth, Chad Ford lists Oladipo as the second-best player in the draft and Len at fifth. But taking Oladipo almost definitely means giving up on Gerald Henderson — in addition to their similar style of play, there just wouldn’t be enough minutes for the two of them. Wing minutes were already hard to balance last year, and keeping both players would have Oladipo, Henderson, Ben Gordon, Ramon Sessions, Jeff Taylor, and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist all competing for time at shooting guard and small forward. Ditching Henderson is definitely an option, but swapping him for Oladipo is likely a lateral move at best in the short-term and a question mark in the long-term.

Assuming Oladipo is the pick, and the team moves forward with him and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist as the starters, there are still issues with fit. Oladipo projects to bring defense, rebounding, and an efficient but limited offensive game — essentially what MKG showed in his rookie year. They’ll have to hope one or both grow in significant ways, especially on offense; if the pair ends up being good but redundant in a few years, they’ll need to make a trade from a position of weakness, or demote one to the bench.

Len, on the other hand, is rawer but fills an immediate and desperate need. He’d have every opportunity to play from Day 1, and gives the team a balanced roster of young players to develop. Len isn’t the sexiest pick, but he gives the team a big man theoretically capable of doing big man things like catching the ball in the post and consistently rebounding. They don’t really have that right now. Even if he tops out as an average starter, that would still be a huge upgrade.

This has been a long-winded way of saying Len would be my choice, unless the front office feels Oladipo is a significantly better prospect. If they’re viewed as roughly equal, then it’s Len all the way.

Mathew: Anthony Bennett. If this scenario plays out then the Bobcats will most likely be choosing from Oladipo, Bennett, and Len unless they decide to trade the pick. I like Anthony Bennett. If the Bobcats haven’t given up on Biyombo then they should have come to the conclusion that he needs to be paired with an offensive big man. I for one am rather confident Byron Mullens is not the answer. Would a frontline of Biyombo and Bennett pose problems against larger teams? Sure, but how many of those are there really?

Like many others, I am not sold on Len. I agree that he probably has the highest upside of the three, but I just don’t see the demeanor I like out of big man. As far as Oladipo, in my opinion you cannot expect to start both he and MKG on the wings. The Bobcats would suffer from the same spacing problems as last season. If the NBA Finals have taught us anything it’s that you have to be able shoot the three to be competitive in today’s game.

2- FACT OR FICTION: Charlotte will trade the #4 overall pick?

Spencer: There is a FACT, and that is to say that Rich Cho is aggressively seeking to deal this pick. I don’t have a direct source who has told me, but you can find plenty of reading material suggesting this + my intuition tells me so. The Bobcats have expiring contracts to sweeten a deal with the #4 pick, as well. Out of any draft scenario that Cho could draw up, I’d venture to guess that trading this pick is his dream scenario.

Keep the name Thomas Robinson in mind — I think the Bobcats get involved in this deal. We know Houston is shopping him.

Greg: I think they’d like to, but I’d be surprised if they find a taker. If they do move the pick, it’ll likely be for a package built around a young big man on either his first or second contract. Here’s a random list of players that might be worth targeting:

JaVale McGee
Thomas Robinson
Ed Davis
Ersan Ilyasova
Derrick Williams
Ryan Anderson
Thaddeus Young
DeMarcus Cousins
Enes Kanter

Just to be clear, I’m not proposing a straight-up swap of the pick for any of these guys. But if they can work up a deal that makes sense, it’s the caliber of player that would fit and they might have a realistic shot of getting.

Mathew: Maybe. Again, if the aforementioned scenario plays out on draft night then I could possibly see the Bobcats trading back (or swapping picks, which you see more often) with a team that really wants Len or Oladipo (more than likely Oladipo) given the assumption the Bobcats have decided on Bennett. I would put the odds at under 50%, but don’t count it out.

Could they trade the pick for an established veteran? I would advise against it. When I heard the rumors about Chris Bosh, I cringed. Would such a move make them immediately better? Of course. But for what? To get back in the hunt for the 8 seed? In my opinion that would be short-sighted.

3- WISH LIST: Who’s the one player in this draft you want Charlotte to nab and why?

Spencer: Victor Oladipo. Does Charlotte need a true scorer on this roster? Yes. Do they need a big man on the block who can catch the ball + actually be threat to score? No question. If you haven’t figured it out, those two questions pertained to the arguments being made for Bennett and Len, in order. Fact is this, Charlotte needs a ton, and much like in last year’s draft where there was no sure thing after Anthony Davis, it’s where the team is going to find themselves at #4 this season.

If Oladipo is there it makes absolutely no sense to not draft him — put another projected elite defender on the floor to go next to MKG. Get an extremely high energy/motor type of player who doesn’t take possessions off. Oh, and get the most sure product in this entire draft — Oladipo, a player who made huge statistical leaps, offensively, every season in college.

Greg: Nerlens Noel. Noel is a risky choice, and has plenty of legitimate knocks: he’s coming off a horrific injury, he’s underweight at this point, and his offensive game is raw at best.

But! Noel’s talent on the defensive end makes that a worthwhile risk. Charlotte gave up the third-most attempts in the restricted area last year, and an athletic, shotblocking center (with a little more awareness than Biyombo) would do wonders. It’s not hard to imagine a career arc like Tyson Chandler’s, if the team is patient with him.

On offense, if he’s competent and plays within himself, that should be enough. At the very least, his athleticism would let him run the floor with Kemba and MKG if the team plays up-tempo.

That trio would give the team a solid offensive creator (Walker), a very good wing defender (MKG) and a potentially elite anchor in the paint (Noel). Plug in a shooter at SG and an offensive-minded PF through free agency and trades, and you have something that resembles a competitive NBA team.

Mathew: Ben McLemore. I would actually be happy with a host of guys from this draft (Noel, Bennett, McCollum), but McLemore stands atop of the list for me. Some have dogged him for his lack of killer instinct, but in lieu of a “Kobe mentality” you get a guy with by all accounts high character. And to be honest, if a player is not going to be the lead guy on your team (I wouldn’t expect McLemore to be) I’m not sure I want him with that sort of mentality anyway. But I digress. As far as X’s and O’s go, McLemore would give the Bobcats the spacing they desperately need as well as improving the team’s overall athleticism. In my opinion, he’s the guy.