Preparing for the Draft. We are now two days plus some hours (depending on the time of posting) from the 2011 draft. The Bobcats, I’m very pleased to say, have started the prospect workout portion of evaluating players with a fury. Unlike years past, the ‘Cats have had two players, Kemaba Walker and Kawhi Leonard, who are listed in many mock drafts as off the board before we pick, come in for workouts. Coach Paul Silas has made clear he expects the Bobcats to get very good players at the #9 and #19 draft positions and anticipates getting a functional player with #39. Charlotte has had a total of 50+ players in for work outs and with three picks it seems that the ‘Cats are doing due-diligence in the evaluation process. One other change that will have an impact on the draft is hiring Rich Cho as the new General Manager, and Rod Higgins being promoted to President of Basketball Operations.
The ‘Cats have had the best-rated small forwards, excluding the international players, of this draft in for workouts. Coach Paul Silas has had question-answer sessions after all of the workouts and a few of his answers jumped out at me. Some of these things are obvious to the fans but it it is nice to know that the organization is also aware of the team’s issues. This came up after the day three work out On wanting more 3-point shooting “It just puts so much pressure on your opponents when you kick it out and the man is spaced out properly and you kick it out to him.” This is from the day four PM Q&A session On what is tougher to teach up at the next level – defense or offense “That’s something that you can really work on. But the defense – it’s hard to make a good defender out of a guy that doesn’t just have it.” This is from the day five Q&A session His thoughts on evaluating international players “I look at these guys. Some of them are very, very good athletically. Defensively, there’s a big problem that I have with a lot of European guys.” I think it is a safe bet to assume the front office knows we need more consistency with our outside shooting, particularly off the bench. Coach Silas also gives us a couple of strong indications that he values defense over offense and that the offensive side of the game is easier to “teach”
This leads me to believe a player like Alec Burks that has a strong all-around game and solid shooting mechanics will get serious consideration but has a knock against him for “taking time off” on the defensive end on occasions. Chris Singleton is a solid defensive player that has steadily moved up the mock drafts, he’s currently in the 15th position of the “mocking the draft” cumulative draft. Singleton is a very good player that is still developing his offensive game. Coach Silas values defense and both these players can play defense but Burks needs more consistency on that end of the floor. The Bobcats also have interest in adding size but there does not appear to be a “big” , other than Tristan Thompson who appears to be a duplicate of Tyrus Thomas, that will be deserving of the #9 pick available to the ‘Cats.
The #19 pick would appear to be better suited for drafting a “big” since a player we worked out, Nikola Vucevic, should be available. Vucevic excelled as a rebounder in college and that is a skill that reliably transfers from college to the NBA. Vucevic is a big body – he’s 6’11.75″, 260 lbs., with a 7’4.5″ wing span. It is doubtful that Vucevic will be anything more than a 16-24 minute player in the NBA but having a rotation player with his size, rebounding skills, and good hands for a big man, should keep him in the league for 10 plus years. The Bobcats could also look at two other bigs with the #39 pick, JaJaun Johnson and Keith Benson, if a more desirable player than Vucevic happens to be available with the #19 pick.
I think it is impossible to predict how any draft will “play out”. Trades happen, teams pick a player no one expects, and players fall. The one thing I do know is, to borrow from a story at HoopsWorld, “Best Draft Picks:By Draft Slot, we can have a winning draft if we get lucky at #9, Amare Stoudimire (Phoenix, 2002), and #19, Zach Randolph (Portland, 2001) or put ourselves in trouble with a #9, Patrick O’Bryant (Golden State, 2006) and a #19, Ryan Humphrey (Orlando, 2002). The exciting or chilling reality for the Bobcats is they can have the former or latter type draft in the same year. But please don’t confuse the comparisons with the talent from those drafts with available talent in this draft. The comparison is there as a “thrown gauntlet” to our organization to pick the correct players with solid abilities that fit our team.
The hiring of Rich Cho probably changes very little as far as our draft board. Cho is known as a cap specialist, but also appears has an eye for talent. Cho worked with Sam Presti during the revitalization of the OKC Thunder. Cho knows that drafting quality players only helps an organization so I expect he might “tweak” our draft board with his opinion on players but little else will change for this draft.
I hope you’ve enjoyed “My Take” and I’ll talk with you again after the draft.