Was playing Madden 09 yesterday, and I thought about the Bobcats. (I know, reading about other people's video games is boring, but this relates to basketball, I swear. Stick with me.)
I'm running a franchise with the Detroit Lions. I decided I wanted to take over a franchise that might legitimately sack its management this season, yet one that would be fun to rebuild. With Roy Williams and Calvin Johnson already in place, and a few redundant players that could be traded for useful parts at other positions, Detroit's got a sweet situation for new leadership.
I traded Jon Kitna, Mike Furrey, Tatum Bell, Kevin Smith, a couple other guys, and most of my draft picks in order to acquire Dennis Dixon, Shelden Brown, DeSean Jackson, and Reggie Bush. I signed Ty Law and I'm playing him at safety. When the draft comes around, I'll concentrate on picking offensive and defensive linemen.
The details aren't as important as the big picture: I have a plan, both short term and long term. I've weighted which skills are important for each position, and I'm acquiring players who are superior in those most important skills.
The Bobcats are at a point in their history when they can start executing a coherent plan for reaching the playoffs and subsequently winning an NBA championship. That plan begins with determining a philosophy of which skills are most important, weighting them, measuring the current players, and measuring every other player in the league.
Going by the Cats' last several drafts, though, there is no such plan in place.
2004 -- Emeka Okafor
2005 -- Raymond Felton, Sean May(Hey, it's almost as if they're building a core of players who had extreme success in college, both individually and on the team level...
And now, ladies and gentlemen... the Michael Jordan Era!)
2006 -- Adam Morrison
2007 -- Jason Richardson (in trade for Brandan Wright), Jared Dudley
2008 -- D.J. Augustin, Alexis Ajinca
In 04-05, the drafted players were complementary, in theory, and obviously adhere to a plan for success. From 06-08, the direction has been muddled. I don't expect Jordan, et al, to tell the world how they rank players, and so on, but I do expect some semblance of a plan.
In spirit, drafting an Adam Morrison type, and acquiring Jason Richardson, both to go with Gerald Wallace, Felton, May, and Okafor, makes a little bit of sense. There's a gunner identity brewing there. However, Jared Dudley, as much as I love him, does not fit that theme, seeing as he's a hustle guy, and no one ever expects him to be either a dynamic scorer or a shut down defender. His ceiling is Luke Walton. D.J. Augustin
wasn't the pure point guard Raymond Felton
was in college, and it's unlikely he'll be the type that will make his swingmen better, since he can't play defense and he's a score-first guard. Ajinca might already be a lost cause.
So what is MJ thinking? I haven't even mentioned the big longterm Okafor deal, which undermines whatever the team was becoming with Wallace and Richardson at the heart of things. I just can't help but be discouraged by the lack of a plan.