By Rick Bonnell, McClatchy Newspapers –
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Charlotte Bobcats finished a single spot shy of a franchise player Wednesday night.
The Bobcats will pick second in the June 28 NBA draft, based on the results of the annual draft lottery. The New Orleans Hornets will select first and it’s a virtual lock the Hornets will choose Kentucky big man Anthony Davis, the game-changer in this draft.
Asked if it was a given the Bobcats would have chosen Davis — consensus college player of the year — Bobcats president of basketball operations Rod Higgins said, “It’s hard to say he wouldn’t be the guy.”
Now the Bobcats will spread a wider net in determining who should be No. 2. Is it Kentucky small forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist? Is it Kansas power forward Thomas Robinson? Higgins said the Bobcats would work out at least six players for the No. 2 spot. He also said they anticipate trade interest in the pick from other teams.
“Some other teams are going to call us about No. 2,” Higgins said. “We’re going to get some interest there until the pick is called” on draft night.
No. 2 will match the highest draft pick in the Bobcats’ eight seasons. Before their initial season in 2004, then coach/general manager Bernie Bickerstaff swung a trade with the Los Angeles Clippers that jumped the Bobcats from fourth to second in the draft order. They used that pick to select Connecticut center Emeka Okafor, now with the Hornets.
Higgins didn’t linger on what might have been. Davis could be a once-a-decade player — an impact shot-blocker/rebounder with an expanding offensive game.
“What can you do but move on and try to help this basketball team?” Higgins said of the letdown.
Other possibilities for the No. 2 pick could include Connecticut center Andre Drummond, North Carolina small forward Harrison Barnes, Florida shooting guard Brandon Beal and Connecticut shooting guard Jeremy Lamb.
Drafting No. 2 expands the Bobcats’ predraft workload considerably. As player agent David Falk told the Observer recently, this is a “one-player draft” where the difference in picks 2 through 8 might be “minuscule.”
Under the weighting system the NBA employs, the 7-59 Bobcats (worst single-season winning percentage in NBA history), had a 25 percent chance of the first pick and a 21.5 percent change of the second pick. They could finish no worse than fourth in the draft order.
The next big step in draft preparations is the annual combine in Chicago on June 6-8. Simultaneously Higgins and general manager Rich Cho, who represented the Bobcats at the lottery, are conducting a coaching search to replace Paul Silas. Higgins said he expects to hire a coach in the next couple of weeks.
Higgins confirmed a Yahoo report that Bobcats owner Michael Jordan told Orlando Magic assistant Patrick Ewing he likely would not be getting the job. The Bobcats have interviewed at least eight candidates and are expected to interview at least two more — Indiana Pacers assistant Brian Shaw and Los Angeles Lakers assistant Quin Snyder.
With the Charlotte Bobcats losing out to the New Orleans Hornets for the top pick in Wednesday’s lottery, the local NBA team’s work multiplies considerably.
The top pick would have been a no-brainer — Kentucky big man Anthony Davis. The No. 2 pick is far more wide open. Some possibilities for the Bobcats to consider:
Kansas power forward Thomas Robinson: A physically and mentally tough and experienced player who led the Jayhawks to the national championship game. Toughness was an issue all last season for the Bobcats.
Kentucky small forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist: He plays with great intensity and can be a superior defender, but he needs to improve his jump shot and ball-handling to excel as an NBA small forward.
Andre Drummond, Connecticut center/forward: He has the model body for an NBA big man, but he did little as a freshman to suggest he’s ready to do this for a living. The Bobcats need help inside, but Drummond is a project for sure.
Harrison Barnes, North Carolina small forward: One of the better shooters in college basketball and at 6-foot-8 has good size for his position. But his development seemed to stagnate last season; he needs to be better off the dribble to create his own shot.
Bradley Beal, Florida shooting guard: Has fine jump-shooting mechanics and is a good athlete, but needs to extend his shooting range.
Jeremy Lamb, Connecticut shooting guard: He has a knack for scoring and great length (a 7-1 wingspan), but he was often passive in his last season with the Huskies. Bobcats extend losing season