Coming off of a 7-59 year which turned out to produce the worst winning percentage in the history of the NBA, it's easy to look back at all of the decisions we've made over the years that ultimately lead to such a horrible squad. Whether it was giving away valuable assets in exchange for a run at the playoffs as a bottom seed, making trades that took on more salary limiting our future flexibility, or whatever, nothing trumps the fact that to become a consistent winning franchise, the team needs to draft better. Much better. A brief review of the history after the draft.
The Bobcats have had a ridiculous amount of bad fortune in the draft. First off being that the team was introduced to the league in 2004, which is, ya know, 1 year after 2003, where four of the top picks turned into perennial all-stars (Lebron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, Dwayne Wade). Something is telling me all we missed out on was an opportunity to draft Darko Milicic though. Then, we failed to win the lottery in 2004 (DESPITE BEING AN EXPANSION TEAM) and had to settle for Okafor instead of future hall of famer Dwight Howard. Then there is 2005, where if we had tanked a game or two the previous season, we would've been in position to select another future hall of famer, Chris Paul, as opposed to the package of Tar Heels we picked up with Felton and May.
But the Bobcats have shot themselves in the foot more often than not when looking back over the history of things. For instance, the Hornets were willing to trade Paul for both of the Bobcat's lottery picks but we turned that deal down. As another example, well, scroll down. The results aren't pretty. The Bobcats almost every year have been in position to pick up an all-star caliber player only to squander every opportunity they've received. As a matter of fact, the only Bobcat in history to ever make that game was picked up in the expansion draft (Gerald Wallace). Either way, this is just a post to show everyone that the team has had chances to make great improvements and will still get chances, but we need to be better decision makers when it comes to hand picking our future generation. Period.
2004 NBA Draft
Emeka Okafor (R1-P2) - Okafor wasn't a bad pick for the team. As we all know, he went on to be rookie of the year and was really a beast when you think about it, putting up 15 and 11 his rookie campaign. This is a pick I can't criticize too much. It wouldn't be fair to look at Okafor now and call him terrible because of his contract, the guy got it done. Can't fault the Bobcats here.
Bernard Robinson (R2-P46) - Can't really say too much about this pick either. No one picked after Robinson enjoyed anything close to an NBA career afterwards while Bernard actually bounced around the league for a while and boasts career averages of 4.5 points and 2.5 rebounds per game. It would've been cool if were able to bounce on Trevor Ariza who went two spots higher to the Knicks, but, oh well.
Grade and Thoughts: On a 1-10 scale, I give this draft a 7 considering all of the All-Star caliber players that were picked up after Okafor. He, to me, is the perfect example of a player who came in at pretty much the highest level he ever would be at. That doesn't mean he was a bad pick though. Players who are a guaranteed double-double average every year aren't very easy to come by. Especially ones that are super strong and block shots.
2005 NBA Draft
Raymond Felton (R1-P5) : Felton was always an ehhh pick for me. Not too good, not too bad, just average. But average isn't what you're looking for with the number 5 pick in the draft. I think he could've been a fairly decent point guard had he played under Larry Brown or Mike D'antoni his entire career, but it doesn't always work like that. Felton enjoyed his most success during the 07-08 season posting 14.4 points and 7.4 assists, which I guess deserves one of those sarcastic claps. So, here ya go.
Sean May (R1-P13) : A lot of people forget that May actually averaged 12 and 7 during his sophomore year, but he was on the bench for much of the year dealing with injury. And we ARE using hindsight here anyway, so f it. May was an awful pick. Point blank period. His ultimate failure has probably prevented us from being able to give serious consideration to drafting UNC players (probably why we passed on Hansborough and Lawson, and traded Wright on draft night).
Grade and Thoughts: On a 1-10 scale, I give this a 4 basically because Sean May was so bad and flopped out of the league entirely and Felton is no longer a Bobcat while we missed an opportunity to get two players who are arguably the best at their respective positions with Paul and Bynum.
2006 NBA Draft
Adam Morrison (R1-P3) - Though Kwame Brown and Morrison will both go down as direct signs of Jordan's inept ability at judging talent, luckily only Ammo was actually picked by our franchise. And with good reason. You're talking about a man who lead the nation in scoring with a whopping 28.1 ppg at Gonzaga. His offense and the Bobcats were a match made in Heaven. Unfortunately for us, after a "horrible" rookie year where he averaged 12 a game, he was never able to reach anywhere close to that number again. He does have a couple of championship rings though.
Ryan Hollins (R2-P50) - I can't be too upset with the Hollins pick and don't know exactly why he's constantly called a bust. The man was the 50th overall pick in the draft and no one of any good was passed over in his favor. Plus he's actually a rotation player with a pretty good team right now. If you want to be real about it, he was a decent value pick. One of the few in our history. For this reason, the grade will be slightly elevated.
Grade and Thoughts : On a 1-10, I'll give this draft a 3 just because of the Hollins find and Morrison actually being a dominant college player who had a halfway decent rookie year. Either way, it'll still remain low simply because we missed out on several talents who no doubt would have contributed more than Morrison did, especially franchise centerpieces like Gay and Roy.
2007 NBA Draft
"Richardson actually averaged 21.8 in his first year with the Bobcats"
Brandan Wright (R1-P8, Traded for Jason Richardson) This one is a lot harder to judge than the other draft picks because Richardson came in and was actually a very good 20 point scorer, quite possibly the best we've ever had along with Stephen Jackson. However, this trade also was one of the moves that represented a change in philosophy for the franchise, that proved to be for the worst in the end.
Jared Dudley (R1-P22) -How about some props for the front office for actually getting a decent player with a later round pick. What? They traded said player only a season and a half later. Smh. Got ta do betta!!! Even when Dudley was here, I felt he was a good contributor and one of those players you could just trust. To see him become a legitimate three point threat in Phoenix makes it worst. He probably realistically could've been our best player this year. Think about that for a moment.
Grade and Thoughts: I'll give this draft a 5 because Richardson was actually a decent player which lead to us having the pieces to acquire Boris Diaw and Raja Bell which ultimately ended up helping us net Stephen Jackson. Also Dudley was a good pick up. However, we still missed out on way too many good players. Noah could've been a Bobcat. I remember hoping we picked him up that night. I wanted a fiery big man. But at the same time, I remember being happy about getting Richardson that night so I won't complain too much. But damn. Marc Gasol?
2008 NBA Draft
D.J. Augustin (R1-P9) - Before this year, I would've looked at D.J. as an "ok" pick. I mean, of course it was always going to hurt that we passed on Lopez (doesn't it seem like EVERYONE wanted him on draft night). But after his performance this year, combined with the fact that we didn't lock him down with an extension, combined with the high probability that he's played his last game here makes it hard to call D.J. a good pick. Especially when several stud big men like Lopez, Hibbert, McGee, and Ibaka were still on the block. I mean, I know D.J. can be a good player in the right system, but career averages of 10.9 ppg and 4.4 apg are what he's given us thus far. That won't cut it.
Alexis Ajinca (R1-P20) - I remember getting into an argument one time with Procton and blindly defending this pick. Forgetting that even though this guy was only a 20th pick, that there were several great talents taken after him. This was a super deep class. I mean, you can add plenty more players to the passed on list including Ryan Anderson, Courtney Lee, Omer Asik, and so on. The one saving grace here for me is that I still feel this guy can be a steady contributor in the league in the right system (Phoenix maybe?), but Ibaka or Dragic would've been huge for us this year. No doubts about it.
Grade and Thoughts: On a 1-10 scale, in the end, this drat deserves another 4. With draft picks, you want to select players that are going to be around for the long term. Ones that you feel comfortable signing to long term extensions or not trading after a year. We failed miserably in those regards. Yeah, I know D.J. had a high assist to turnover ratio one year, but unless we manage to bring him back for a decent level deal, this one will remain low.
2009 NBA Draft
Gerald Henderson (R1-P12) - Henderson was a solid pick and really represents probably the only pick from the last generation of Bobcats to be somewhat of a lock to be a part of our new blood (that's why we are so bad). His career averages of 9.6 ppg and 2.9 rpg aren't as true a reflection as the season he had last year, putting up 15.1 and 4. Ultimately, I think on a very good team, he's averaging about 12 or 13 ppg as a fourth or fifth option on offense and that's where I hope he can ultimately end up here. Placing the burden of being a star on Henderson's shoulders isn't healthy for him. Let's give him time to improve on his good defense and steady mid range and hopefully add a semblance of a 3 point game and we've got a piece on our hands.
Derrick Brown (R2-P40) - I like UPS and would like to see another year of development with the team despite some of the hate he receives. I guess I'm in a "put him in his place" kind of mind state with him because even though I've been impressed with him at times, I still wouldn't want to offer him more than the minimum in this NBA climate. However, even great teams need steady players who can average 6 or 8 points off the bench and Brown can be that. The lowest he's shot over a season in his career is 46% and he shot 52% this year while putting up career highs in points. I think he has a spot somewhere in this league. And he's young and cheap so there's no real reason why his spot can't be with us at the moment despite the want for complete roster upheaval.
Robert Vaden (Traded to Oklahoma City) -I really have no comments on this man. But I guess we can be kinda pissed for passing on Patty Mills for him.
Grade and Thoughts: On a 1-10 scale, I give this draft a 7. I'm fine with Hendo, and I do understand that it would've been a risk taking another UNC point guard, but watching Lawson slice and dice the Lakers in the playoffs kinda hurt. I remember on draft night, I was hoping we got Terrence Williams and was extremely disappointed to hear Henderson's name called because I knew we needed offense (damn, has it always been like that?). But, I turned into a hater of him into a fan that appreciates his overall body of work. He does need to work on his shot, and I believe Lawson, Holiday, or Thornton will reach an all-star game before him, but he's still a good rotation player, something the Bobcats have proven to not be able to pick up with their own draft picks. As for Brown, I think he was a good find, but we did pass on both Thornton and Chase Budinger (who I really wanted) for him. That leaves a sour taste.
2010 NBA Draft
Passed on : Everybody
Grade and Thoughts: On a scale of 1-10 I'll give it a 1 because I'm a Bobcat's fan and we didn't have any picks to do anything stupid with. On the other hand, it really deserves a 0 because one year later we're totally rebuilding and have no picks from this class to show for it. Had we held on to our pick, we would've been in position to select Jordan Crawford, Landry Fields, or Daniel Orton. There were plenty of decent players in this draft.
2011 NBA Draft
Bismack Biyombo (R1-P7) -The Biz! Other than Ajinca, Biz represents one of the first true project type players the team has taken on in their brief history. It's mush too early to tell if he will be a bust or not, but being 5th in the NBA in BPM as a rookie is impressive. And I know everyone remembers this..............
Yeah, I'm still excited about this guy.
Kemba Walker (R1-P9) - If nothing else, Kemba is a player that can consistently break down defenses which is rare to come by. I mean, you're playing some of the greatest athletes in the world on a nightly basis, and you still have the ball handle skill to make them all look silly. Cue that Beautiful Bean Footage Brandon Knight..............
However, we did suffer through the most pathetic season in NBA history so it's hard to say exactly how good this kid could be. I'm seeing a ton of potential though. A ton.
Jeremy Tyler (R2-P39 Traded to Golden State Warriors) - I was disappointed when the Bobcats drafted Tyler only to trade him away minutes later for cash to the Warriors. I found that that disappointment didn't last very long as in my heart I always knew he was a project player, but still a project player we should be developing. In the end, I still think he could have helped us this year and it'll probably turn out to be a mistake to have traded him, but I won't worry about it right now. I'll try not to.
Grades and Thoughts: On a 1-10 scale, I give this draft an 8. Why? Because I think this was the best draft we've ever had and had to rank it higher than any other. Sure, we missed out on some players who looked good this year, a couple (Brooks and Leonard) that I was hoping would be our picks on draft night. But this is who we have and neither have given me a reason to believe that they were awful picks, which is much more than I can say for any of our previous classes.
Theoretical Championship of Missed Opportunity
PG Ty Lawson, Goran Dragic
SG Brandon Roy, Monta Ellis
SF Andre Igoudala, Chandler Parsons
PF Serge Ibaka, Kenneth Faried
C Andrew Bynum, Marc Gasol
Well, there you have it ladies and gentlemen. The proof is in the pudding. The Bobcats have shot themselves in the foot year in and year out when it comes to drafting and have more than their share of opportunities to field a deep and talented squad off of draft picks alone. I myself am basically a die hard Bobcat fan, and even me with my homer shades on can't bring myself to give the Bobcats a better average grade of 4.88 out of 10. That's not good enough to field a winning team and this years draft will be huge in determining how well this rebuilding process goes. We just have to do better. That's the bottom line.