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Blogcat's Take: 2016 Draft

I’ll say this for Rich Cho: the Hornets GM doesn’t just zig when everyone thinks he’s going to zag, he turbo-zigs. He hyper-zigs. He zigs 88 mph in a DeLorean. My gut reaction to the decision to trade the 22nd overall pick in the draft for Marco Belinelli is that my gut asked to be puked out. But I’ve more or less begun putting blind faith in Cho, similar to Panthers GM Dave Gettleman. Cho has a track record not unlike that of P. Diddy: he keeps doing random things that never quite work out 100%, but they also don’t fail quite as spectacularly as you originally feared when you first heard about them.

But still…Marco Belinelli! The only person I can find—possibly on the planet—who thinks this was an unequivocally good idea is the Observer’s Scott Fowler. And Fowler is a man who thinks about the Hornets approximately 30 minutes a month, and that’s only during the season, and 90% of those thoughts are about Kelly Tripucka. Meanwhile, everyone who is aware that Charlotte’s starting PG is no longer Muggsy Bogues is clawing out a quart of cerebrospinal fluid from scratching their heads.

And that’s because…why would Cho do this? Was there nobody worth taking a chance on at 22? I really don’t follow college basketball at all, so that may very well have been the case. But even Malachi Richardson, whom the Sacramento Kings selected in exchange for Belinelli, has the first name “Malachi.” If he had played for us, do you know how much I would have delighted in making dozens and dozens of Children of the Corn references? God help me if he and Damien Lillard ever get on the same team; you’d have two of the most evil child first names ever in the same pick-and-roll (“Damien dishes to Malachi!”).

Forget about the draft pick, was there not a single better player to find besides Belinelli? In writing a little blurb about Belinelli on Thursday, the Observer had a section called “Worth Mentioning” and literally not a single one of the tidbits they listed is worth mentioning. By PER standards, he’s had exactly one year in which he was league average, 2013-14, when he somehow stumbled on to the world champion Spurs (stats courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com). By the way, that season sticks out on his 9-year career like “Smooth Criminal” sticks out on the career of Alien Ant Farm. It was also the only season in which this alleged sharpshooter had a true-shooting percentage greater than .600 (.605, to be exact, and for context, that’s what Carl Landry shot last year, and for further context, yes, Carl Landry did play last year). 2013-14 was also one of just two seasons in which Belinelli played at least 80 games. In fact, the only thing not unique about that season was Belinelli’s utterly barbaric torture of the word “defense.” Consistently in the very bottom of B-Ref’s defensive box-plus minus stats, Belinelli makes James Harden look like Walt Frazier. Even Belinelli’s beard droops.

I guess if you want to look at this glass of piss as half-full, you could argue that the Hornets are buying low on Belinelli. After all, he just spent a year with the Kings, who were dangerously close to becoming a real-life version of Eddie. Thus his stats, which—minus that one Spurs season—had been downwardly spiraling for years, look like they finally got hooked on heroin. Maybe now that he’s on a team who’s, you know, trying, Belinelli will get straight again. Also, he remains prolific and adept at hitting corner-3’s, having only been a sub-.400 shooter from there once in his life (and not last year!). While the Hornets are pretty good at making corner-3’s last year, they had a hard time getting them. Perhaps Belinelli can help on that front, although I’m not sure how much, because it’s not exactly a mystery as to what he’s going to do on offense: he’s going to lope to one of the corners and wait there, much like a lazy drug dealer. If he gets open, it’s only because Kemba or somebody forced the defense to rotate. And even then, he’s much better from the left side, as are the Hornets, so he’s only partially filling a need. Ugh, this is like making a case for Brexit.

The only other positive aspect of this situation is that the other shoe hasn’t dropped yet. One would expect that Courtney Lee is not long for the Hornets—certainly not now. As I wrote in my last article, Lee, a 30-year-old free agent who made $5.7M last season, put up numbers worthy of guys the same age who made twice that. Therefore, with cap space not an issue for most teams, there’s a high probability that Lee gets paid well over $10M. In that scenario, the Hornets can claim with a somewhat straight face that they’ve mostly replaced Lee’s shooting with Belinelli, who is only due $6.3M. But Belinelli’s certainly not going to replace Lee’s defense, and he’s got another two years after this season on his contract. For this scenario to really make you feel better, you have to hope that Michael Kidd-Gilchrist comes back and is ready to guard not just the 2 and the 3, but the 2 and the 3 simultaneously (if anyone can do it, it’s MKG); plus Jeremy Lamb suddenly realizes that basketball involves other skills besides wandering aimlessly and looking sad and confused; plus the Hornets use the money saved on Lee to retain Nicolas Batum, Marvin Williams, Jeremy Lin, and Al Jefferson; plus Malachi Richardson opts out of Summer League and decides instead to stab several innocent villagers in rural Nebraska. It all seems like too much to hope for.

That’s exactly what I’m going to do, though, as we enter free agency, which I’ll be watching like a desperate hitchhiker. The price for all of this is almost certainly a steady of stream of bad/discouraging news from Rick Bonnell, who’s also on an untouchable 5-year streak of delivering the blandest, most uninteresting tweets known to man. For those of you haven’t had the privilege, here’s a small sample of his staggering array of banality:


    Jun 25 2016 03:46 PM
    I hope you arent comparing Gettleman to Cho with "blind faith" as if they are similar Kind of GMs

    Gettleman is a fuckin genious.

    You're right, it's not the same thing. I have faith that Gettleman will overachieve, which I don't have with Cho. But I DO have faith that Cho won't completely flop. He's Diddy, I tell you! Diddy announces he's going to be on Broadway? It wasn't great, but it wasn't embarrassing, either. Diddy's going to run a marathon? Didn't win it, but he DID finish.