It has been a whole month since the NBA Draft, seems as good a time as any to take a look back. With the NBA lockout bringing everything officially league related to a screeching and terrifying halt, it's the perfect time to review the last official acts of the Charlotte Bobcats. Namely, drafting Bismack Biyombo with the seventh overall pick and grabbing Kemba Walker two picks later at nine.
Now early on this looked like exactly the draft in which you did not want to have two first round picks, much less lottery picks. So of course the Bobcats ended up with just that. However, as is typically the case, the draft got closer and more observers starting talking themselves into this being a "deep" draft.
And that might actually turn out to be true. I think there was some good talent in this draft that could play in the league for many years. I don't think anyone saw a LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, or Dwight Howard. But you can't really do anything about the draft in which you're drafting, except maybe trade completely out of it. And I don't think that was a viable option at all for the Bobcats. They needed to get some young talent, some young assets, that could contribute.
The one thing most could agree on was that there was no sure-fire superstar in this draft. Which makes it even more odd to me when people pass out draft grades and kill teams for doing what they did. I understand grades must be assigned, I just wouldn't put a ton of stock into them. If there's no sure thing out there, take what you truly believe you like, and that's what most teams do. That's what the Bobcats did and I'd consider that a successful draft. If there's a draft to take your shot in, it was this one.
I like Brandon Knight. I think he'll play in the league for a long time and could blossom into a fine starter. Who knows, with the right set of circumstances (and injuries to certain point guards in Chicago and Boston) maybe he's even an All-Star at some point. But some saw passing on Knight to take the combo of Biyombo and Walker as wrong, essentially valuing Knight more than Walker.
One of the main arguments for Knight was that he's a much better shooter than Kemba. To hear some folks right after the draft tell it, Knight was pretty much a deadeye. Only problem was, he really wasn't.
Knight shot 42.3% from the field last year. Kemba actually shot 42.8% and averaged six more points a game in almost two more minutes per game. Knight did shoot better from three last year knocking in almost 38% compared to Kemba's 33%. But, Kemba was involved in more possessions (31.4% to Knight's 26.7%), averaged more assists, more rebounds and fewer turnovers than Knight. All in all a more efficient game considering how involved Kemba was.
It's no secret that Walker was the driving force behind his team last year. A team that won the national championship.
Knight was just a freshmen while Walker was playing his junior year. Youth is on his side and certainly Knight has room to improve and grow. But to say that the Bobcats should have drafted Knight because he shot the lights out isn't exactly accurate.
Personally, once the Bobcats were sitting there at seven and it was apparent Biyombo, Knight and Walker were all still on the board, I would have been pleased with any combination. In reality there was only one way to get two of the three, unless you wanted to go all Kahn and draft Walker and Knight.
See, the Pistons would have taken Biyombo at eight. The Bobcats, and general manager Rich Cho valued Biyombo. So, say the Bobcats gamble and take Knight, Biyombo is gone and they're left with either taking Walker or a lesser known entity.
Think of it this way, Biyombo, Knight, and Walker were the last of the name players, or known quanities in this draft, minus maybe Jimmer Fredette who wasn't a possibility for Charlotte. If they took Biyombo you knew they'd take one of the two point guards left. If they took Knight, missed Biyombo and then couldn't have taken another point guard in Walker, who's the first name that comes to your mind for them to take? Maybe Chris Singleton, Alec Burks, or Kawhi Leonard? Ok, I can see that. But no way that didn't take you a few minutes to think of and you'd need to check their resume to talk yourself into liking the pick
There was still talent on the board, I don't think a draft of Knight and Leonard, Singelton, or even a shooting guard like Burks or Klay Thompson would have been bad. I just think the combination they got is better.
The Bobcats need a lot...A LOT of things but something they've needed for many years is rebounding. Over the last five seasons the Bobcats have ranked no better than 22nd out of 30 NBA teams in rebounds per game. You know how you talk about those one or two rebounds that win or lose a game? Yeah, Charlotte has (or should I say, didn't have) a lot of those. They haven't been a good rebounding team and what's worse, they never really did anything to address it either.
True, Tyson Chandler could have theoretically been in there to help with rebounds...he didn't.
So while there was much clamour for scoring (and rightly so) to be acquired in this draft, rebounding was just as big a need. Fortunately, rebounding is one of those skills that can typically translate to the next level. Of course, just how far Biyombo's previous level is from the NBA is not exactly known. But scouts say his shotblocking ability and rebounding will be ready to go on day one. Sign me up for that.
And yes, they need scoring, not really something that was readily available this time around. They were not going to take Jimmer, and they badly needed someone with a winning attitude and even better, some leadership abilities. Enter Kemba Walker.
When you factor in the need for the Bobcats to get two players that can contribute right away, the strategy used was the correct way to go.
Need more proof, here's something that's about as unscientific as you can get, search "Kemba Walker" and "Brandon Knight" on YouTube (dear God please don't let this be a draft tool the Bobcats implement). The first few results for Walker have titles that include "Heart", "Game-winning jumper", and "Champion." And while Knight certainly has some great highlights that come up, none include those adjectives.
And maybe it's something that isn't measured in the stats, or results, YouTube searches or even the game film.
Maybe when Michael Jordan says he liked what he saw in Walker as a winner and wanted to bring that attitude to the Bobcats it's very true, and valid.
Teams are drafting on talent, potential talent, resume, intangibles, indescribables and any combination of those...it's an inexact science.
Ultimately, draft grades are not final until two or three seasons have been played. Since no one knows how long it will be before we'll even have one season to judge these guys it's impossible to say whether or not the Bobcats made the right choice. But based on what we know now, if I'm a Bobcats fan there would be no regret with how things turned out on draft night.