Tuesday, June 21, 2011

NBA Draft is almost here!

The long wait is almost over, the fascinating combination of names and numbers, stats and videos, workouts, rumors, trade talks, all of it comes down to Thursday night, beginning at 7pm Eastern, the NBA Draft!  I'd like to focus on my personal favorite team, the Charlotte Bobcats.  We have the #9 and #19 picks in the first round, plus some really good players who could be used in a trade.  We're a rebuilding team, it's expected that this coming year will probably not be that good, that it won't be until next year, when we sign Chris Paul, that things really turn around for us.  With that in mind, we're going to need to free up some money to sign CP3, and the best way to do that is to trade our best player, who is a Veteran Superstar, Mr. Stephen Jackson.  He is one of the better players in the entire NBA, he could make a huge difference for any team that wants to compete this year.  We, on the other hand, need young talent to build around CP3, so trading Jackson for a draft pick or two seems like the way to go.  Similarly, we also have a young star Point Guard, DJ Augustin, someone who will be a star for many years, but who we obviously won't need after this season, as he would just be a high priced backup to Paul.  If we could trade Augustin for a high pick we should totally do that deal.  We need a lot of help at a lot of positions, most notably Small Forward and Center, and there are some high quality players in this draft who could help us out.

For me, the top player in this year's draft certanily isn't Irving, it isn't even Williams, its Bismack Biyombo.  The guy has Superstar written all over him.  It might take a couple years before he gets really good in an overall sense, but the guy is a Defensive Superstar right now, he's got all the tools to be one of the best in the NBA, a true Franchise player, just like Chris Paul, who we will be signing once his contract expires at the end of the coming season.  Another player that Bobcat management and fans should be keeping their eye on is Jan Vesely. He's a future All Star, just loaded with talent.  Offense, defense, the guy's got everything you want, and he will bring instant improvement, give him a few years and he will be a real Superstar. 

A much riskier pick would be Jonas Valanciunas, who is a legitimate top 5 pick under normal conditions, as recent as just days ago ESPN expected him to be picked #4 overall.  However since then, it was revealed that through some bizarre thing that I honestly dont understand regarding an overseas basketball league contract, he isn't going to be allowed to play in the NBA this coming season.  So it would sort of be like drafting an injured player who you know can't play the first year.  He's super talented, he's a bigtime Center who could be totally dominant in a few years time, but in the here and now he can't even play at all.  So I wouldn't be nearly as comfortable drafing him with the #9 as I would the #19, but he's expected to get picked at #14 if he isn't picked before then, leaving myself, and the Bobcats, in a bit of a conundrum.  Normally I would say pass, since he can't play all year, but this is going to be a rebuilding year, we are one of the teams that could legitimately afford to draft a player like Jonas and not worry nearly as much about the downside.  It's going to be a tough call on draft night, one I trust Mr. Cho to make intelligently, after due dilligence and careful consideration.  Cho is the newest, and best, member of Michael Jordan's leadership team, he knows how to run a team better than pretty much anybody else in the NBA, having taken Oklahoma City from being a total joke, all the way to the Conference Finals (and who knows, maybe the Championship if they hadn't run into Dirk and company), if anybody can make the right call on Jonas I trust that Cho will.

So Biyombo, Vesely, and possibly Jonas are my top 3 favorites among those who have a legitmate shot at still being there when the Bobcats pick at #9.  But what about later picks?  I admit I'm less certain.  There's a lot of high quality dudes out there to choose from, and we really have to wait and see who gets picked and who is still around.  It would make things much easier if we could trade one of our players for a pick somewhere in the neighborhood of 15 or better, as any pick in the top 20 has the potential to yield a really quality player for our team, and of course the higher the pick the higher the quality.  I'd be willing to trade Jackson and Augustin for the #2 pick, it's well known that Minnesota has been shopping it.  Pick up Williams at #2, then pick one of my top 3 at #9, and then whoever we get at #19 will likely be a quality player also, and the icing on the draft cake.  We will have freed up a lot of sweet cap room to sign CP3 after this coming season, picked up a legitimate future Superstar in Williams to work with CP3, and probably added two other really quality players as well.  Should we do that deal, and follow this strategy, I strongly believe that we will have the best draft of any team in the NBA, even better than Cleveland, and we will be in a position to contend for an NBA Championship in as soon as two to three years. 


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