Draft Day Triumph or Disaster?
In his first major player move as a Bobcat executive, Jordan trades the #8 pick for a veteran shooting guard in Jason Richardson. Stephen A. says "stupid, stupid, stupid." Why all the commotion?
For those who don’t know me, I’m an active poster on a few pretty heavily trafficked message boards. Why do I bring this up? In one way, it’s just to let you know why a noob to BobcatsPlanet.com is writing a blog. But, the real reason is to tell you about my draft night.
First off, I love talking about basketball online, just like most of you. I had talked about setting up an chat with another forum so people could talk instantly. Because of my job, I get a lot of time during the summer to post ad nauseum about basketball. I was ready for a dramatic night of mega- blockbuster trades, franchise changing picks, and unreasonably loud commentary by Stephen A. Smith and Dick Vitale.
[Can you imagine attending the dinner they mentioned as the bet for which draft was better?
Stephen: YO, DICKIE! PASS ME THE SALT!!
Dick: YOU WANT THE SALT, BABY! A THREE INCH CYLINDER OF SEASONING GOODNESS! DON’T COME AT ME WITH THIS TALK OF PEPPER OR OREGANO! ALL THE SO CALLED EXPERTS ARE TALKING ABOUT CURRY POWDER, AND THEY FORGET ABOUT SALT, AN HISTORICALLY PROVEN WINNER.
Stephen: THAT’S THE STUPIDEST THING I’VE EVER HEARD OF IN MY LIFE.
Dick: CAN I GET A NAPKIN?
Stephen: O.K. HERE YA GO! BUT DON'T TALK TO ME ABOUT SALT!]
However, I found myself visiting my in-laws, who supposedly had internet access back up. While I was excited to see a broadband box on the table when I walked in, a service guy was coming out until the next day to actually install some chip in the back of the house. To make matters worse, they have satellite. A storm came over the area that knocked out the feed from 6:44-6:57. With my soda and snacks ready for the duration of the draft, I sat there silently staring at the TV, waiting for the feed to come back on. I had to ask myself, would I be able to psychologically handle not being able to see the draft AND not being able to find out about it over the internet. It was a profound moment in my life. I watched the leaves shake in a tree outside. I heard the rain. IT WAS DEEP, BABY!
The feed comes back on, I open up the chips, and get ready for the night. I’m upset about not being able to chit-chat without the other feverish Bobcat fans out there, but I’m content.
The next five hours, as I’m sure many of you experienced, I’m sure, was a bit of roller coaster. I had mixed feelings about everything related to the Bobcats, but ultimately felt pretty positive. These are my thoughts on the draft and the last couple of days of the Bobcat’s organization:
For a moment, I’m putting aside all implications of the trade and just focusing on Jason Richardson, the player. Richardson fills an obvious need for the Bobcats: a shooting guard who can hit from outside and provide athleticism in the backcourt. He’s a proven veteran, yet still young, who was very successful in this past year’s playoffs, where a player’s talents don’t automatically translate. He and Wallace will put on an alley-oop clinic on a nightly basis. Yo, a Golden State fan coming to share the love on BobcatsPlanet , pointed out that Richardson does have a lack of handle, but makes up for it with great movement off the ball. The Bobcats had little in the offensive zone this year, which could be contributed to poor coaching or young players. However, Richardson should help us out tremendously in this area, hopefully opening things up for everyone else.
People tend to dismiss Richardson as high flyer with a limited skill set, mainly because he won a slam dunk contest and then was forgotten on terrible Warrior squads. However, Richardson can get boards, hit from outside, and make defenders pay for taking an eye off of him. Aside from his skills, fans seem to love his intangibles: hard work, dedication, good character, and love for the fans. Many Warrior message boards seemed quite sad about Richardson leaving. After all, the guy bought full page newspaper ads to apologize for his team being bad. Who does that in professional sports?
I have to admit, when our pick came around and Morris Almond was available, I was elated! With Wright, Almond would have been the perfect second pick to give us much needed outside shooting. When Stern announced Jared Dudley, I was a bit stunned to say the least. Obviously, it makes more sense after the Richardson trade.
The verdict seems to be out about Dudley, though most say he’ll be a quality baller for any team. He seems to be a future role player for us, so I’m not going too much into his game. He’ll be a great locker room guy, practice hard, and give us some solid minutes on the court. He can give us some different looks as a small, scoring four or rebounding three. Even if he doesn’t become the next Shane Battier or Josh Howard, he could be valuable to us by modeling the little things and giving us some heart on the court.
Obviously, Davidson is a project. Word is, he can rebound and block shots, but has a very limited offensive game. He also needs to bulk up. GWfan, a Crimson Tide follower, says he's incredibly raw as a freshman and has grown in what he does on the court. He’s been through some horrific tragedies this past year, yet still played great. Not know much about the kid, he seems like a guy who will work hard and develop his game. If he can fill Emeka’s role for 15 minutes a night, he’s certainly worth it. Acquiring Davidson, even as a project, makes the Dudley pick make more sense.
For more on Davidson, check out GWfan's post on the Observer message board. (link above)
In the eyes of most professional analysts, we went from getting the steal of the draft to getting looted by Golden State. To most Bobcat fans we went from drafting another Tar Heel to getting a shooting guard we desperately need. Why is their so much disparity in the opinions? These are the two divergent views of the Bobcats situation:
- We are a dangerous team that can upset the best in the NBA on any given night. With a solid go to guy to help us at the end of the game, we’re a playoff team for the next 6-7 years.
- The NBA playoffs are won through seven game series that almost always have the better team winning. The Bobcats simply do not have the talent to compete over the next couple of years to be any kind of legitimate title contender. As such, you draft to win tomorrow rather than today.
Many commentators (Read: local newspaper columnists, message board posters, the guy at work) believe that the Bobcats have to prove themselves to the community in order to be taken seriously as a team. As such, they need to spend money to try and win now. Even for people who see the big picture of building a franchise felt the sting of losing so many close games. Acquiring Richardson, assuming we resign Wallace, answers the call of whether Johnson is committed to winning, even if it’s division championships rather than NBA championships. The big question becomes, did the trade hurt our chances of winning the whole thing later down the road? Did we leverage our future by aiming to get more casual fans and more immediate wins?
When the Bulls acquired Ben Wallace, several commentators pointed out that while Chicago was young, they needed to win in the next couple of years before Lebron and Wade took complete control of the East. Why do I mention this, since the West seems a lock to win the next couple of championships? With so many strong young players, there’s just no way of knowing who will be a legitimate contender or not. If Duncan, Nash, and Dirk own now and Lebron and Wade own the next “now,” when do you aim your team to win? Do we write off the next ten years, stockpiling picks and waiting for the one season when we can win the title?
We can make this move, aim for winning now, and still try and be a legitimate contender later. We’ve got young players at every position that can plan now and have upside. If we follow the Pistons formula of quality guys at each position, we can win despite not having three or four all-stars. Vincent is going to have to make the most of each player, pushing guys like Felton, Morrison, and May to step up their game. However, with so many rookie contracts, we’re in a good position to resign the true ballers and let the others walk if they don’t pan out. Ideally, we’ll have established our identity and will be able to get the right free agent rookies to run with our squad.
Overall, I feel good about draft night, save the lack of internet and glaring possibility of loss of reception. We’ve got a more solid team after the trade than we did before it, without completely compromising our future. Sure Wright could turn into Chris Bosh. But he could also turn into the next Kwame Brown. Jordandidn’t let himself make that same mistake twice. Because of Jordan's move, we're about to see a very exciting new chapter to the Bobcats' franchise.
And if nothing else, we'll be the champions of YouTube.