This third title started out out as simply “Drafting DJ Augustin,” but that was before I realized that the Bobcats also selected Alexis Ajinca a hysterical 20th overall. And then after thinking about it further I damn near broadened this one out to simply “2008,” but I stopped short of doing so because I don’t really think you can classify a year as a business decision. The lesson here is that the Bobcats have screwed up so many things that they start to crash into each other and conflate themselves; they’re the NBA equivalent of Kids. Or maybe the lesson is, “when thinking about the Bobcats, don’t think too much.” Anyway, I pinched it off at the 2008 draft, but If anyone could screw up a full year it would be the Bobcats. 2007-08, if you’re forced at gunpoint to remember, was the season that the Bobcats stopped making forward progress in terms of wins but grew leaps and bounds in terms of unintentional comedy. Charlotte regressed to just 32 victories and head coach Sam Vincent was shown the door that spring after less than a full year with the team. And that door kicked the bejesus of poor Sam on the way out, because unless you’re a member of the 2008-09 Anaheim Arsenal, Vincent was never heard from again. The good news, at least, is that the Bobcats learned their lesson about hiring unknown, unproven coaches and never, ever repeated that mistake. Ditto for owner Michael Jordan, who realized the error of filling key decision-making roles with flunky yes-men.
Can it already have been 7 years since the Bobcats selected Adam Morrison with the third overall pick in the 2006 draft? Yes, it can. Or, yes, it could. To me, it doesn’t seem that long ago because his career was so disastrous that it continues to wreak havoc today, up to and including causing me to begin articles with atrociously awkward phrasing. True, Adam Morrison didn’t cause the financial bubble to burst and unemployment to soar, but that’s probably only because he badly injured his knee in his second year. I don’t mean to paint Morrison as a bad guy; in fact, I don’t want to paint Morrison as anything at all, including as a solemn old farmer with his wife and a pitchfork. It’s just that his selection exploded in the Bobcats’ faces like Uncle Buck’s car, set fire to the oil spill that was coach Sam Vincent, and probably forced the Bobcats to overcompensate via a careening series of short-sighted moves, leading to the pile-up that is today’s car wreck of a franchise.
But here’s the (sort of) good news! Unlike the vomit-covered, feces-smeared Tyrus Thomas contract I wrote about last week, at least the Bobcats’ decision to draft Morrison was understandable. And anyone who tells you different is either lying or a die-hard Gonzaga hater. I know this because of the internet-strewn trail of positive reviews of the Bobcats’ 2006 draft. Here’s ESPN’s Chad Forde’s appraisal of the Bobcats taking Morrison third: “Adam Morrison will score points and he’ll draw fans into the arena. The Bobcats continue filling the team with solid players who have good backgrounds — and with Morrison they may have found their first star.” Forde gave them a B+, and in a now-comical aside added, “(Ryan) Hollins is a nice pick in the second round as a big, athletic project.” Hollins, as we all know, was actually more like a big, athletic housing project.
I bought a used car just over a month ago and I’ve already sunk almost a thousand dollars’ worth of repairs in it. First the air conditioner stopped working and then the radiator started leaking. Now I’m distraught and terrified to admit the awful truth: my car might just be injury-prone. And so, with my mind in a dark place, it was only natural that my thoughts turned to Tyrus Thomas’s contract. Like my used car, Thomas didn’t come with a warranty, broke down almost immediately, and made everyone involved wish the he’d never happened. Will my used car avert the same terrible fate as Thomas? Or will I end up not even bothering to take it with me when I go on road trips and eventually paying someone else to just take it off my hands?
In order to answer these questions, I need to see if there are any differences in the way I bought my car and the way the Bobcats signed Thomas. I swear I researched my car before I bought it—carfax.com, blue book, etc.—and I tell you it checked out. But maybe the Bobcats did with Thomas, too. My memory of the entire Thomas affair is that of an entirely ill-conceived nightmare vomited from the jaws of hell, scream-worthy from the outset. But maybe I’m just doing the old 20/20 hindsight thing, and maybe Thomas’s contract was a good idea that unexpectedly went from Mr. Chips to Scarface.
Charlotte Bobcats fans had been expecting some free agent fireworks over this 4th of July weekend, just not down their pants. But that’s what we got on Thursday, courtesy of GM Rich Cho, who’d been promising/threatening a bold free agent move for several days. He delivered/detonated one yesterday by signing former Utah Jazz C Al Jefferson to a 3-year, $41M deal. The third year is apparently a player option, but the only reason Jefferson would opt out would be if he’s the type of person who enjoys sticking his face into blowtorches.
Based on ESPN’s Hollinger ratings, Jefferson added an estimated 13.3 wins above a replacement-level player last year. The good news is that this was second-best in the league among centers, behind only Brook Lopez. The better news is that the Bobcats’ incumbent center, Bismack Biyombo, was actually sub-replacement level last year (-1.3 EWA—yes, our starting center was actually outplayed by a theoretical stand-in who exists only to be replaced). The bad news is that this means if Jefferson takes Biyombo’s slot and plays just as well this year, that’s a 14+ win turnaround, which would mean the Bobcats pick somewhere around 11th in the 2014 draft. Normally more wins is a good thing, but next year’s draft is apparently so awesome that it was discussed more frequently than this year’s draft while this year’s draft was actually taking place. Cho has basically declared on war on draftniks everywhere by picking Biyombo 7th two years ago, choosing Cody Zeller this year, and now doing everything possible to avoid a lottery pick next year.
750 fans showed up at a Charlotte Bobcats draft party last night and were each shocked…that 749 other fans showed up at a Charlotte Bobcats draft party. No, that’s not why they were shocked—I tease. They were shocked that the Bobcats selected Cody Zeller with the fourth pick in the draft, of course. Once again, the Bobcats zigged when you thought they would zag, yinned when you thought they would yang, Aced when you thought they would’ve Based.
This feeling is understandable. Although Cody is considered the most talented of the Zeller brothers, it’s a little like calling Peter the most talented of the Brady brothers. Zeller hovered in the 7-to-12 range in most mock drafts, and was picked apart for his weak upper body, nondescript defense and rebounding, and for a slight regression from his freshman to his sophomore year. ESPN’s Chad Ford seems to have taken the move personally, using phrases like, “For the Bobcats sake, I hope Zeller proves me wrong,” as if Charlotte had just given him an invitation to a wedding at the Twins.