The Charlotte Bobcats set an NBA record for futility this past season and also failed to land the top spot in Thursday nights draft. So they go into the draft with a new coach hired last week and the second overall pick.
Given the teams needs are so extensive, what should they do with that first-round pick?
If general manager Rich Cho and president Michael Jordan choose to keep the pick the best bet is taking Kansas forward Thomas Robinson. At 6-foot-10 and 237 pounds, Robinson is big enough to excel at power forward considering the brute toughness he will bring to the floor every night.
His game has many functions, and hes pretty smooth, too. But his motor sets him apart from others, and after Kentuckys Anthony Davis goes to the New Orleans Hornets as the top overall selection, Robinson is the next best bet.
Its quite possible that Kentucky small forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Florida guard Bradley Beal, and Connecticut center Andre Drummond could have better careers. Even North Carolina forward Harrison Barnes could stick around longer. But each of those players has more question marks, too. Robinson is more NBA ready, and he has a nice upside.
Kidd-Gilchrist would be the next best choice. Hes a terrific athlete, fearless, attacks relentlessly, and has courage. A speech impediment has made life tough at times for Kidd-Gilchrist, so an additional asset any team gets with him is someone who has already handled serious adversity.
Charlotte traded Corey Maggette to Detroit on Tuesday night for Ben Gordon, who has seven years NBA experience and averaged 12.5 points per game this past season. So Beal might not be an option for the Bobcats at No. 2, though he remains an interesting prospect that doesnt carry the name recognition as Robinson, Kidd-Gilchrist or Barnes. But he can play.
Beal is a shooting guard with beyond NBA range. He is also athletic, smart, and can be a combo guard in a lot of situations. New Charlotte coach Mike Dunlap wants to run and collect as many perimeter shooters as he can. Beal probably appeals to him, especially if the team has more plans to move players and doesnt mind trading down.
The belief among many pundits is that Drummond and Barnes dont justify a No. 2 selection, so if interested in acquiring either of them, Charlotte would be wise to drop down, which also means picking up draft pick and more for its second spot.
Beal could be had at Nos. 3, 4 or maybe 5. If the Cats, as their home jerseys will now read above the numbers, can land an intriguing player or future first-round in addition to a plus Beal with, say, the fifth pick, it might be a great move.
They already have guards in D.J. Augustin, Gerald Henderson, Kemba Walker and now Gordon in the backcourt, but Beal would give the unit more range it lacked this past season. Dunlap wants to shoots a lot of 3-pointers, and given that Charlotte made good on just 29.5 percent of its attempts on the way to a 7-59 campaign, Beal and a host of other long-ball threats will be welcomed additions in the Queen City.
Of course, one of the recent trends of the NBA Draft is that teams work out deals in advance and draft for one another. So its conceivable the Bobcats might take Robinson or Beal and a little later in the draft deal them to another team with a lower draft spot for their top selection and more.
That nobody has a handle on what Charlotte will do makes its situation compelling. And that the teams roster has nobody on it that should influence what the team does makes it even more fascinating.
But in the end, the Bobcats need to add significant talent to begin layering the franchises foundation, and since its most gifted players currently reside on the perimeter, its wise to go big. Thomas Robinson should be their man.