I admit that I love this time of year. Hope springs eternal for those of us that consider ourselves “draft junkies”. I’ve never considered the term, at least for me, as being one of an “all-knowing” seer but rather as one of an all-knowing hope, as in, I’m hoping we get it right. This will be my first real draft to get a good handle on our GM, Rod Higgins, and the scouting staff now employed by the Bobcats. I’d like to feel, after the draft, that we went in with a plan and accomplished at least part of that plan. So let me share what my plan, if I were the GM, would be for this particular draft.
First I’ll share what I think our team weaknesses are and then how I’d fill them. Bench scoring (we can call it the sixth man) coupled with a lack of shooting guard depth is a major problem for this team. We also have a starting small-forward, Stephen Jackson, that’s 33 years old and has two years left on his contract, so this would be a good time to get a small-forward starter-in-training. Point Guard depth, and some would say the starter, is a problem. Our primary back-up, Shaun Livingston, has a history of injury issues. The center spot has always been a concern for the ‘Cats but I’ve put it next to last since I see little help for that need in this draft. Big-man depth is a team issue since we only have one center, DeSagana Diop, under contract.
My road-map of team needs above leads me to two players that I think could fill one of those needs with our first number one pick, the ninth overall pick. Alec Burks from Colorado is considered by many scouts/analysts to be the best shooting guard in this draft. He is a skilled shooter, has good size at 6’6″ for the position, plays defense, and is versatile. He is the type of player that could fit our sixth-man need and could also push, in the future, for a starting position. Most mock-drafts have Burks listed 4-12 but the “sweet-spot” seems to be number 10 so he would probably be available to us.
The other player I like with this pick is small forward Chris Singleton of Florida State. Singleton was the ACC defensive player of the year and this guy is dedicated on the defensive end. He has excellent size (6’9″) and athleticism to play the position in the NBA. Singleton is not a polished offensive product by any means but with two years to get this guy ready to start, our coaching staff has time to “coach” his offensive skills up. Blue-chip defenders with his athleticism, at least for me, would be very difficult to pass on. Singleton has a much wider range, 11-27, in mocks but if you value defense and have a need at the small forward position this is the guy I’d take though I doubt when the draft actually takes place he’ll be there when we pick 19. We could try and get Burks, number 9 and Singleton 19, but again, I doubt after individual work-outs that Singleton will be available but with more depth at small forward it’s probably worth the risk.
The number 9 pick shores up what I consider one of our weaknesses so now we’ll look at the number 19 pick in the first round and players that could help from here. Solid shooting guards are at a premium this draft so it is more difficult at 19, but a couple of players could be available. Klay Thompson from Washington State is listed from 12-34 in the mocks and could be a solid sixth-man. Thompson is the only other shooting guard I feel comfortable drafting as a sixth-man type offensive player that is a true shooing guard.
Two small forwards that might be available at 19 are Jordan Hamilton, Texas, and Tyler Honeycutt, UCLA. Hamilton has the reputation of “jack of all trades, master of none”. He has Gerald Wallace size, 6’7″, and reminds me a bit of “Crash”. Honeycutt is 6′ 8″ and both players have 6’9″ wingspans. Honeycutt has a much thinner frame (think T. Prince) but is also versatile. Hamilton is listed from 8-22 in the mocks and Honeycutt is listed in the 14-31 range. Both players need to be developed and could possibly become starter type players with two solid years of coaching.
The last pick for the Bobcats is number 39, or the ninth pick in the second round. Second round picks are a definite “crap-shoot” so let’s use it to shore-up depth with a big, or a third point guard that might at least be kept on the roster for practices.
The “bigs” on my list are Keith Benson, Center, Oakland, Jeremy Tyler, PF, USA, and Nicola Vucevic, C/PF, USC. I’ve learned over the years to temper my hopefulness concerning second rounders. Each of these players offers something as an NBA prospect but which one can stick on an NBA roster depends on the team scheme and picking/developing a kid that can make the cut. I’d bring all four in for try-outs and see who is a good fit for my team.
The point guards that might be available here that might help are – Nolan Smith, Duke, and Shelvin Mack, Butler, but I doubt either of these players drop to us unless the “bigs” are grabbed by other teams. Two other guys – Norris Cole, Cleveland State, and Reggie Jackson, Boston College, might be there but I’d rather take a “big” here to develop and sign a veteran point guard as my third back-up. That’s my preference unless a guy like Mack or Smith falls here.
That’s my plan for the draft and as always I put it out to you as a point of discussion, not as what I consider to be the “only way”. I’d like to reiterate that I’m most interested in feeling, when all is said and done, that we had a plan as an organization to begin with.