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When the process matters: Why Charlotte should trade the No.2 pick

Jun 3, 2012, 7:00 PM EST

Image (1) bobcats_logo-thumb-250x182-19284.jpg for post 3934

Let’s start off with some instant rebuttal to the premature outcry that headline above is going to muster. First, the basics. The Charlotte Bobcats, in a continuing pattern regarding their awful, horrendous, terrible franchise history, lost the lottery’s No.1 pick despite a 1-in-4 chance to land Anthony Davis. The Bobcats are an awful, awful basketball team that needs help at every position. They have the No.2 pick. There is talk that they could trade the No.2 for more draft picks and/or players. Some people think that’s crazy talk. I’m here to share why it’s not. Now for the immediate outrcy, as kind of a primer:

1. Yes, the Bobcats need a franchise superstar.  The Bobcats need that transcendent player, that guy who they can build around, who they can go to and say “That’s why we we’re winning. We drafted that guy.” The Spurs are a hugely successful franchise and still Gregg Popovich credits Tim Duncan with all of their accomplishments. The Bobcats do not have that guy, have ever had that guy, and desperately need that guy.

2. Unfortunately, this draft is not the one to get it outside the No. 1 spot, from where we sit today. This draft was considered hotcakes a year ago. And a lot of people have talked this up as one of the deeper drafts in years. For what it’s worth, I’m huge on it. I think all the way up to the 22nd pick you can get a franchise impact player. But if you talk to front office people, you’re going to hear a lot about this draft is not that great. It’s been leaked everywhere already. People have soured on this class. Whether it’s Jared Sullinger and Harrison Barnes’ step backwards, or the incomplete nature of the freshmen, there’s just a huge amount of doubt about this draft, but especially in the superstar category.

There’s just not a perception that Bradley Beal, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Thomas Robinson, or Andre Drummond are going to be franchise savior players. Kidd-Gilchrist has a jumpshot under heavy debate (don’t let one hot workout cloud the issue), Bradley Beal faces questions about height and his shooting percentage considering he’s, you know, a shooter, Robinson was a footnote at Kansas until this season and doesn’t have exceptional length, and Andre Drummond has more questions about his head than the guy from “12 Monkeys.”

So with that No. 2 pick, there’s strong reason to believe the Bobcats aren’t getting that franchise guy. They need him. But you shouldn’t just take a guy who is likely not that because you need him, just like you should’t take a subpar rebounder who’s tall just because you need a guy who can crash the boards. If he can crash the boards (because he’s tall), but he doesn’t, it doesn’t help you in the end.

3. Yes, they can be very, very wrong on this and look stupid. This is what is terrible about the draft. The smart thing if the Bobcats cannot get a superstar is to trade the pick. But if they trade the pick and the player taken turns out to be a superstar in Portland or Cleveland, or wherever, it just makes you look that much dumber for trading the pick. But you have to operate based on the knowledge base that you have right now. And the knowledge base that you have right now says that the smart move is to trade the pick. Why? Because you have so many other needs.

4. No, the Bobcats will likely not get back equal value from an objective viewpoint. The subjective is what matters here. What I mean by that is that it doesn’t matter if the media torches you because Michael Kidd-Gilchrist or Thomas Robinson are better than whoever you get at No. 4 and No. 24 or with a young veteran wing, a first, and a future first. It matters if the players you get from the trade help with your overall plan and process. That process, which is the biggest reason for the Spurs success, is what defines championship organizations. It’s not the market or the money, or (just) the superstar. It’s the way they do business and if it’s consistent and well-thought out with the long-term plan in mind. It’s much like trading a superstar. You’re never going to get equal value for Chris Paul or Dwight Howard. Your objective should be to get things which will set you up in the future. You think the Hornets got equal value at the time for Chris Paul? Absolutely not. But are they in a great position to take a major step forward in the 2013-2014 season? Absolutely.

5. The Bobcats have desperate needs at every position. You know what would be better for when the Bobcats do land their superstar on that great come and get it day? Having a roster in place that doesn’t put him in a position to fail. I’m a huge believer in that concept. You have to put guys in a position to succeed. The Bobcats, honestly, were not in a position to help Anthony Davis succeed. Now that doesn’t mean that had they drafted him, he couldn’t be successful right off the bat and it certainly doesn’t mean he couldn’t be successful in 2-to-4 years. But it’s still not an environment built for him to succeed. The way you do that is by getting a team that is at least passable.

I’ve contended that the Bobcats were this terrible this year on account of a perfect storm of factors. The lockout schedule, some bad breaks in games, injuries, and poor tactical coaching. Honestly, they showed up to play a more focused game than the Wizards did half the time. The Wizards just had more talent. And that’s a big deal here. The Bobcats simply lacked talent at almost every position. Their bright spots were a freak of nature power forward who can’t score and a diminutive point guard who struggles with passing. This is a bad thing. The Bobcats need players. Every position needs an upgrade, and a move backwards in the draft or for young, veteran talents (who are willing to work with the Charlotte franchise — that’s a big one) is going to help them. They’re not going to make any huge leap next season. They’ll still have a chance at Shabazz Muhammad or whoever winds up No. 1 overall. So why not fall back, pick up some talent, get some depth, and set yourself up to not be terrible?

A roster full of young, versatile players on rookie contracts who have shown some life is a much better situation to drop a No. 1 overall pick than a team of upgraded D-Leaguers and malcontents.

Plus, it allows them to get rid of some of that rot. Tyrus Thomas‘ attitude? See ya, we got a better power forward so we can trade you for pennies on the dollar just to get rid of your contract. Corey Maggette? Adios, we picked up a shooter wing. Getting multiple positions covered isn’t going to make them a good team. But it’s removing the infected areas so that at least the lifeform isn’t ridden with rot. Doesn’t just adding MKG or Beal help with that? Well, yeah, but you’re also putting them in a position where they have to succeed automatically. You need to allow quality supporting players to be quality supporting players. You build a foundation. You get rid of the things that made you a joke. You stabilize your franchise and instill a winning culture, without the wins.

It’s about process.

I think both MKG, Beal, and Robinson can be fantastic players. I don’t think they can be franchise guys… for the Charlotte Bobcats. The Bobcats need a complete organizational makeover. Moving the pick for multiple assets is the way to go. It doesn’t have to be any deal available, they should wait for the right one. But any deal involving a first rounder this year, an asset either in cap space or player, and a future first should be the model. If the Cats can be smart enough to set themselves up with multiple chances in future lotteries, they can improve now and still have a shot at that franchise player.

I think trading the pick is almost never the answer. But here? I think it’s a must. The Cats need to start the process. And that takes more than one player, if that player is not Anthony Davis.

  1. thekingdave - Jun 3, 2012 at 7:31 PM

    Trade it to Houston for a Lowry/Parsons package and picks

    • drunkenjunk - Jun 3, 2012 at 8:47 PM

      i like this, if they could get 14 or dump off thomas that’d be good for them.

  2. EvanZ - Jun 3, 2012 at 8:18 PM

    If the Bobcats and MJ and Cho want to convince people and fans they are serious about building a winner, they need to man up and make the best pick possible. If you can’t figure out who is the second best player in a draft, you should turn in your “I have the stuff to run a basketball team” card. MJ already lost one or two of those and maybe had another revoked, but Cho still has his. Do the work, make the pick, start building a core with what will undoubtedly be the best player on your team. Convince players around the league you know what you’re doing as a franchise.

    • fm31970 - Jun 3, 2012 at 8:37 PM

      That’s the catch- the “best player available” may not be what’s best for the Bobcats as a team.

      I agree with Matt. This team needs lots of help, so more picks of quality players will definitely help more than one player at #2. Add depth and good players through the draft (i.e., Spurs trading George Hill for Khawai(sp?) Leonard) which fit you team/system. Granted, the Bobcats have almost no established system in place, but Biyombo was clearly the start with last year’s draft.

      Truth be told, nobody can predict who will be a franchise player or not (Hello Greg Oden!), and even those who were soured on early (D-Cousins in Sacto) can come around within the right system.

      • loungefly74 - Jun 4, 2012 at 9:05 AM

        “Truth be told, nobody can predict who will be a franchise player or not (Hello Greg Oden!), and even those who were soured on early (D-Cousins in Sacto) can come around within the right system.”

        you are absolutely right. on a previous article, i mentioned how from 2005-2009 (not including 2010 and beyond because its too early) the top picks (#1 or #2) were busts. you just don’t truly know who will be good. some of the best guys were taken #3 and later.

        unless the bobcats get an incredible package…keep the pick.

        …just throwing it out there because i’m a Laker fan…take Gasol and Blake for the pick. With Gasol, you have a solid center piece for 3-4 years and….alright, alright…i’ll stop. if you know me, this was all about getting rid of Blake! ugh….

  3. 69jaredallen69 - Jun 3, 2012 at 10:27 PM

    Would Derrick Williams, #18 and Memphis future #1 be enough for Wolves to move up to #2?

  4. someidiotfromouthereintheprojects - Jun 3, 2012 at 11:44 PM

    matt has a point. watch highlight videos of all these potential top 10 picks…then watch anthony davis’ highlight reel. it’s fun and exciting but the drop-off is incredibly steep. mkg or drummond would be great for a contender but a random role player for my bobcats.

    the real question is if they can find a dumb enough trade partner.

  5. trickybastard - Jun 4, 2012 at 10:20 AM

    EVERY year people “sour” on drafts about this time because they want to devalue players in hopes of getting them. If you don’t know that Matt Moore you don’t know your NBA history

  6. jolink653 - Jun 4, 2012 at 1:30 PM

    the problem is a lot of these guys leave school way too early and never take the time to develop their game in college…MKG could potentially be a franchise-caliber player if he had taken that time rather than rushed to the NBA and no one knows about drummond because he did the same thing so he’s gonna be a project pick…i think they should establish a rule that stops kids from doing the one and done thing in NCAA and forces them to stay until they’re at least a junior (like the NFL)…so many picks have been failures because of the rushed entry into the league

    the bobcats need so much help that one pick won’t help much i think they should hang the #2 pick out there and see what kind of offers they get and if they get a good package then they should take it…thomas was a complete failure and they need to find some way of getting rid of him and i’m not too sure why maggette was signed in the first place…jordan should just leave the team building up to rick cho since we know what happens when jordan picks the players

  7. BigBeachBall - Jun 5, 2012 at 7:33 PM

    it will get better Charlotte fans….
    -clipper fan

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