Tag:Charlotte Bobcats
Posted on: July 29, 2011 4:23 pm
Edited on: July 29, 2011 4:41 pm
 

Michael Jordan's advice for Tiger Woods

Posted by Ben Golliver

michael-jordan-tiger-woods

We can all agree that disgraced golfer Tiger Woods is a mess right now. There's not much point in rubbing in that fact as his career is in shambles, his marriage was dissolved and his health is touch-and-go.

But none of that stopped Charlotte Bobcats owner and NBA legend Michael Jordan from calling Woods "very fragile" and comparing him to a "wounded dog" in an interview with Australia's Herald Sun.

Jordan is uniquely qualified to give advice to Woods for at least three reasons. One: Because he understands how to deal with fame at its highest level. Two: Because he understands that elite athletes are still human and their private lives affect their on-court performance. Three: Because he is friendly with Woods and certainly commands his respect.

So what is the greatest basketball player of all time's current for the potential greatest golfer of all time? Turn the game into therapy.
"The biggest thing is that I've always - and I'm pretty sure Tiger has, too - used sport as a therapeutic tool," he said. "Once you're inside the lines, you can focus on what your jobs are and what you're doing on the court, or for him the course.

"The problem for him was that he wasn't physically capable of getting inside those lines and doing those things. I think he's been somewhat fragile mentally and physically. When I went through those [personal] issues, once I got on to the basketball court that became a therapeutic thing for me where I was able to forget all those other things."

"Once I finished playing basketball, I came out with a better understanding of the decisions I had to make. He doesn't have that now. Now he's going through something that's totally different, totally new for him and he's now acknowledging that. He needs to get healthy, mentally and physically, before he can really attack that."

Jordan was a notoriously competitive player and someone who never settled for anything short of peak performance from himself and his teammates. Here, his advice is sound.

But in the reference to a "wounded dog" and the use of the word "fragile" I vaguely detect a hint of Jordan the teammate and competitor rather than Jordan the big brother and mentor. Like the rest of us, Jordan knows that Woods is capable of so much more than he's shown recently. Like the rest of us, Jordan likely wants to watch that greatness unfold.

Sometimes competitors with lengthy, winning track records simply need to find a way to rededicate themselves, to rekindle their spark. Sometimes they simply need a new challenge or a new challenger. Perhaps Jordan is stepping into that role for Woods.
Posted on: July 18, 2011 6:45 pm
Edited on: July 19, 2011 1:20 pm
 

Michael Jordan can still dunk at 48 video

NBA legend Michael Jordan can still dunk a basketball at 48 years old. Posted by Ben Golliver.

Michael Jordan can still dunk a basketball. I don't want to think about a day in which those words cannot be said.

The NBA legend, and current owner of the Charlotte Bobcats, showed that the best player in the history of basketball, the man who transformed the dunk from two points to a billion dollar logo, still has something left in the tank.

Bobcats.com reports that Jordan, dressed in a white t-shirt and grey sweats, displayed his signature flushing ability during a Monday session of the Charlotte Bobcats fantasy camp.
In the morning session of Bobcats Fantasy Camp on July 18, 2011, one girl asked Chairman Michael Jordan if he could still dunk. In the evening session, he showed some of the adults he indeed still could at 48 years young. 
Jordan is nine years removed from his last season as a professional, when he laced them up for the Washington Wizards in 2002-2003 at the age of 39. A long-time star for the Chicago Bulls and Naismith Hall of Famer, Jordan was listed at 6-foot-6.

Let's crunch some numbers. JumpUSA.com lists Jordan's standing reach at eight to 10 feet while noting that you need to be able to touch four to six inches above the rim to dunk a ball. So we can calculate (estimate) that Jordan has, at minimum, an 18" vertical leap. Pretty solid given that he is pushing 50 years old. In case you were wondering, the site lists his highest measured vertical at 43".

Here's the video of Michael Jordan dunking a basketball at age 48, courtesy of YouTube user TheNewLakers. The original video on Bobcats.com can be found at this link



Below is a frame-by-frame look at Jordan's one-handed, rim-rocking handiwork. 

michael-jordan-dunk-frames
Posted on: July 14, 2011 2:30 pm
Edited on: July 25, 2011 1:40 pm
 

NBA warns Michael Jordan not to golf with players

Charlotte Bobcats owner Michael Jordan would reportedly face a $1 million fine for golfing with NBA players. Posted by Ben Golliver.

michael-jordan-golf

Losing seven figures on a golf course. Just another weekend for NBA legend and notorious gambler Michael Jordan, right? 

Not quite. This million dollar hit comes with a twist: the NBA would be pocketing the cash.

The Reno Gazette-Journal reports that Jordan, owner of the Charlotte Bobcats, is scheduled to play in the American Century Classic celebrity golf tournament. The only problem? So are a handful of NBA players, and the league has made it clear that team executives are not to have any contact with players during the ongoing lockout unless they're willing to stomach a $1 million fine. 
Jordan, who became the first former player to own an NBA team when he purchased the Charlotte Bobcats outright last year, faces a fine of $1 million if he plays a round of golf at the ACC with a current NBA player.

Jordan called the NBA on Tuesday to check in, and the NBA confirmed he would be fined if he played with a current NBA player.
The tournament's website notes that Boston Celtics guard Ray Allen, Sacramento Kings guard Jimmer Fredette, Dallas Mavericks guard Jason Kidd and New Jersey Nets guard Deron Williams are all scheduled to participate.

Again, the rule comes off a bit silly and petty, but it's the rule. A round of golf would represent hours of contact and there is sure to be plenty of media in attendance. Two guys yucking it up as they putt out doesn't quite jive with the league's public blackout policy towards its player institute on July 1. 

This warning to Jordan is the latest in a string of potentially fineable situations involving team employees and current players.

Earlier this week, we noted a report that Portland Trail Blazers Acting GM Chad Buchanan was warned for comments made about Las Vegas Summer League. Also this week, Minnesota Timberwolves president David Kahn called a press conference to fire coach Kurt Rambis and mentioned multiple players during the question-and-answer session with media members. And, on Wednesday night, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban attended the ESPYs with his team, although the league clarified that the contact had been pre-approved on the condition that no league business or CBA discussion would take place.

Since the lockout began on July 1, the NBA has yet to publicly issue a fine to a team executive who violates its gag order policy. 

Hat tip: Ball Don't Lie
Posted on: July 7, 2011 4:03 pm
Edited on: July 7, 2011 6:09 pm
 

What teams risk in a lockout: Southeast Division

Posted by Royce Young



Talk of losing an entire season is a bit ridiculous to me. There's just way too much at stake. Money, momentum, fan support, money, loyalty, money -- it's just hard to imagine losing any games much less a whole season.

But it's a possibility. And with all this hardline talk going on, it seems like neither the players nor the owners are wanting to budge. There's incentive for teams to get a deal done and not just for the money, but because a year without basketball and more importantly, basketball operations, could greatly affect each and every NBA franchise. Let's start with the Southeast Division.

ORLANDO Magic
The biggest question hovering over the Magic isn't about wins and losses or if Gilbert Arenas should stop tweeting. It's all about Dwight Howard's future and July 1, 2012. That's when Howard will become an unrestricted free agent. General manager Otis Smith has already said he won't trade Howard, but that could just be talk. Howard has said he wants to be in Orlando, but hasn't committed, turning down a three-year extension.

But if NBA offices are shut down and all transactions are halted, Howard might be forced to stay with the Magic all season -- except he won't play a game. Meaning Orlando could lose out on A) having a team good enough to convince Howard he wants to stay because he can win there; B) the Magic won't have an opportunity to trade Howard and get a Carmelo-like deal where they can restock the roster instead of letting him walk with nothing in return; or C) the Magic miss out on at least one more year with Howard meaning they miss out on a chance of having a good team that can compete. That's a lot to think about if this lockout starts stretching into 2012.

MIAMI Heat
It's simple and very obvious for owner Micky Arison and the Heat: Lose the 2011-12 season and that's one less year you have of Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James. That's one less year of the spotlight, the attention and all that money funneling right into South Beach. That's one less shot at a title. That's one less season of constant sellouts, through-the-roof merchandise sales and huge TV ratings.

Basically, it's one less season of $$$$$. And one big reason for Arison to be an owner willing to bargain.

ATLANTA Hawks
The Hawks are in pretty solid shape right now. After the 2011-12 season, they only have six players under contract, including all their big names (Joe Johnson, Josh Smith, Al Horford and uh, Marvin Williams I guess).

But a prolonged lockout could simmer the momentum built from last season's deep playoff run. The roster still isn't quite there and a resolution on what to do with Smith has to be figured out. The earlier he's traded means the more he's worth. Losing that opportunity is bad news for the Hawks, even if they choose to keep Smith.

But on the bright side, it is one less season of overpaying Joe Johnson.

CHARLOTTE Bobcats
The Bobcats aren't really going anywhere this year, or even next year. The roster needs work. It needs more talent, more ability and better structure.

But the Bobcats used two lottery picks on Bismack Biyombo and Kemba Walker, meaning there's a little jolt of young talent on the roster, which is exactly the direction Rich Cho is looking to take them. Younger, faster and a path to building, not just hanging on with marginal veteran talent.

A year without basketball for the Bobcats means a year of stunted growth. These guys need to play together every second they can and I don't just mean on a blacktop in Greensboro. Even if they lose 60 games, that's progress. But they need to be on the court to even have the chance to learn through losing.

Michael Jordan was a player (if you didn't know). I don't know if that means he's on the players' side because I'm sure he also wants a system that helps his franchise competitively and one that helps him make money, but at the same time, I think he cares more about winning and playing than all the rest.

WASHINGTON Wizards
It's the same story for the Wizards too. John Wall, new pick Jan Vesely, Nick Young and JaVale McGee are all young guys that just get better every night they play.

The bright side though is that Rashard Lewis is owed $21.1 million next season and that could be money well not spent. Which is why Ted Leonsis, an NHL owner who has been through an extremely painful lockout, probably isn't all that worried about things like stunted growth when there's money to be saved and made. The Wizards aren't on the path to prosperity right now and are likely one of the teams hemorrhaging a little dough. The Wizards risk setting back their development, but I think that's a price Leonsis would be willing to pay.
Posted on: July 5, 2011 2:18 pm
Edited on: July 5, 2011 2:30 pm
 

2012 NBA Draft: Light at the end of the tunnel

A look at five top 2012 NBA Draft picks and where they might fit best in the NBA. Posted by Ben Golliver.

A confluence of factors made the 2011 NBA Draft one to forget. The one-and-done class was weak to begin with; there were only 3-4 players selected who are believed to possess eventual All-Star talent; the impending NBA lockout scared many top players into returning to school; there wasn’t an American-born center taken in the first round; two of the most talented international players (Enes Kanter and Bismack Biyombo) had very short resumes and another, Jonas Valanciunas, had a tricky contract buyout. On and on the list goes.

In that light, the 2011 NBA Draft was about assessing risk for bad teams. Which incomplete player fits best with our pieces? Which of these diamonds in the rough might pan out in the right circumstances?

The 2012 Draft couldn't be more different. Yes, we're 11 months away, but it's setting up as an evaluating of rewards rather than riches thanks to a crop that should be in the running for best class since 2003 brought LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and company. Considering that the NBA's lockout is now officially underway, the 2012 class serves as the perfect light at the end of the tunnel.

At first glance, there are arguably 10 prospects who could have been top five talents in this year’s draft. Why? Because the one-and-dones that stayed put – big-name stars like Harrison Barnes and Jared Sullinger – will converge with a very strong high school Class of 2011 – topped by Anthony Davis, James McAdoo, Michael Gilchrist, Austin Rivers and others. 

Here’s an early look at five top prospects and where their impact would be greatest.

harrison-barnes1. Harrison Barnes | Sophomore | UNC | SF | 6-foot-8, 210 pounds   

Barnes should headline the 2012 NBA Draft class and is the early favorite to go No. 1 overall. Despite falling short of preseason All-American expectations and starting slow as a freshman, Barnes came on strong over the second half of the season, averaging 21.3 points and 6.3 rebounds in March. He has all the tools to be an NBA All-Star and an elite scorer. He’s polished, smooth, has a pretty stroke, good size and a scorer’s self-confidence. After he gets a second season under his belt, Barnes should be ready to start from Day 1 and step in as a No. 1 scoring option from the get-go in 2012-2013. He understands the marketing side of the modern game and projects to be a franchise building block.

Best fit: If the Toronto Raptors and Charlotte Bobcats are as bad as everyone expects them to be next season, Barnes serves as the potential savior.

2. Jared Sullinger| Sophomore | Ohio State | PF | 6-foot-8, 250 pounds

The No. 2 spot in next year’s draft is Sullinger’s to lose, although he’ll certainly have his share of challengers. A traditional low-post power forward, Sullinger shed questions about his weight to become the best freshman in the nation last season, averaging 17.2 points and 10.2 rebounds per game. Sullinger is strong and relentless, overpowering older players at the college level. Physically, he’s a throwback in this age of combo fours and he would be the consensus No. 1 pick next year if he were an inch or two taller and a few inches longer so that he could more comfortably play center. His productivity on the glass – and the offensive efficiency that goes with it -- is his top selling point. The biggest concern: Will he be subject to mismatches on the defensive end (too short to guard fives, too big to stay with combo fours on the perimeter)?

Best fit: Pair him with a lengthy shot-blocker. The Washington Wizards – with JaVale McGee -- or the Detroit Pistons – with Greg Monroe -- would allow Sullinger to do what he does best.

3. Anthony Davis | Freshman | Kentucky | PF | 6-foot-10, 220 pounds

The best word to describe Davis is “tantalizing.” At this point, despite a solid showing on the All-Star circuit, Davis is regarded more for his potential than his current ability. That’s to be expected given a well-documented growth spurt that has made him the most hyped American big man prospect since Greg Oden. While Davis is much skinnier and less overwhelming than Oden, he is significantly more mobile. He's also  extremely long and active around the basket on both ends. Kentucky is an ideal situation for him to develop: surrounded by future pros and not asked to do too much, Davis should have an excellent chance to make a big impact games during March Madness, even if he isn’t putting up overwhelming stat lines. There isn’t a team in the NBA that wouldn’t take him today based on the rarity of his physical package. If he continues to develop his strength and size, he has a very good shot to go No. 1 overall, even if he’s riskier right now than Barnes or Sullinger.

Best fit: Pairing Davis with a wide body, low-post presence would be his best-case scenario: Minnesota, next to Kevin Love, or Sacramento, alongside DeMarcus Cousins.

4. James McAdoo | Freshman | UNC | PF | 6-foot-8, 223 pounds

McAdoo is a supremely talented, although sometimes overlooked, combo forward who will likely play four as a pro. His skill level, comfort with the ball in his hands, nose for rebounds, ability to finish and general intelligence make him a can’t-miss prospect. A (very) distant relative of NBA Hall of Famer Bob McAdoo, he raised his profile on the All-Star circuit and declared at the Nike Hoop Summit that he was ready to average 20 points and 10 rebounds as a freshman at Carolina, a feat that would be unprecedented. With UNC returning so much talent, he’s in line for an adjustment of expectations but there’s no question that he was born to play basketball at the NBA level.

Best fit: The Cleveland Cavaliers didn’t get the talented combo forward they desired in Derrick Williams in 2011. McAdoo would make a nice consolation prize. Pending a decision on Kris Humphries and a rumored free agency pursuit of David West, McAdoo would fit nicely next to Brook Lopez in New Jersey too.

5. Michael Gilchrist | Freshman | Kentucky | 6-foot-7, 205 pounds

NBA teams haven’t exactly shown a desire to reward elite wing defenders with top draft selections, but Gilchrist deserves it. He really redefines “motor” and “intensity,” making full use of his ideal wing size. He enjoys playing chest-to-chest defense but is comfortable off the ball as well, equally capable of taking a No. 1 scoring option out of the game or breaking plays from the weakside and finishing in transition. Other than an ugly release on his jumper, Gilchrist is a solid offensive prospect too, able to score and make plays, and fully comfortable with the ball in his hands.   

Best fit: Any team in need of an intensity injection. The Raptors, Wizards, Bobcats and Los Angeles Clippers all qualify.

All height and weight figures courtesy of DraftExpress.com.

Posted on: June 27, 2011 2:16 pm
Edited on: June 27, 2011 3:16 pm
 

Derrick Williams is Rookie of the Year favorite

Minnesota Timberwolves forward Derrick Williams is the odds-on favorite to win 2011-2012 Rookie of the Year. Posted by Ben Golliver.

derrick-williams-large

Derrick Williams might have been the No. 2 selection in the 2011 NBA Draft, but he's sitting in the pole positon to win the 2012 NBA Rookie of the Year award. 

Bodog.com
has released its early odds for which member of the Draft Class of 2011 will take home the Rookie of the Year award. Williams, a dynamic combo forward out of Arizona, leapfrogged one-and-done Duke point guard Kyrie Irving, drafted by Cleveland Cavaliers, to claim the No. 1 spot. The No. 10 selection, BYU guard Jimmer Fredette, selected by the Sacramento Kings, also finished ahead of Irving.

Here's a look at the top 10. Strictly for entertainment purposes only.

Why does Irving slide? Two reasons. To win Rookie of the Year, you must be as NBA-ready as possible and have the opportunity to play boatloads of minutes so that you can accumulate stats.

In Irving's case, he missed a good chunk of his rookie season at Duke, raising questions about how ready he is to be an impact player in the NBA from Day One. Second, the Cavaliers have a muddled point guard position with Baron Davis, Ramon Sessions and Boobie Gibson hanging around. That will likely get sorted out before next season rolls around, but it will be difficult to trade Davis, who is sure to get some serious burn.

Williams, on the other hand, is arguably the best physical specimen in this year's class. The Timberwolves have nothing to lose and, while Michael Beasley is on the roster and has a similar game, Minnesota has every incentive to turn Williams loose. With Rubio in the fold, look for the Timberwolves to continue to play an up-tempo game, with Williams given the green light to shoot and attack as often as he likes. One possible area of concern: Williams and Rubio, by virtue of playing on the same team, could cancel each other out.

Fredette represents the dumb money on this list. With no limit on his shot attempts in college, he compiled absurd scoring numbers. While he enters Sacramento figuring to get plenty of minutes, Tyreke Evans will command a very large chunk of the team's possessions, as will emerging big man DeMarcus Cousins. If Fredette doesn't defer, he will be marginalized. Ownership might be infatuated with him, but winning over his teammates is far more important.

Kanter appears to be more NBA-ready than most, but he enters a very crowded frontcourt in Utah. Surely he will carve out a solid role. But will it be enough to put up real numbers?

One solid dark-horse candidate: Kemba Walker. While he might not start from Day One because of D.J. Augustin, Walker will find plenty of available minutes in Charlotte's torn-down backcourt. The Bobcats are entering Year One of a major rebuild and thus will have Walker's development as a top -- perhaps the top -- priority. He enters the NBA after three years in college, and he proved that he was a star on that level. 

Ultimately, I would expect this to boil down to a three-man race between Williams, Irving and Walker. Williams is a worthy early favorite.
Posted on: June 25, 2011 3:59 pm
Edited on: June 25, 2011 6:41 pm
 

2011 NBA Draft: Top 3 point guards face logjams

Kyrie Irving, Brandon Knight and Kemba Walker -- the top three point guards in the 2011 NBA Draft -- face logjams of varying degrees on their new teams. Posted by Ben Golliver.

walker-irving-knight

NBA executives talk all the time about drafting the "Best Player Available" rather than targeting a particular position of need. The logic goes that NBA roster turnover happens at such a pace that it's better to collect talented players, letting them beat out incumbents for a spot, rather than compromising on upside simply to complete a jigsaw puzzle that could change quickly due to injury, chemistry or other factors.

One of the most unusual aspects of the 2011 NBA Draft is that the top three point guards that went off the board -- Duke's Kyrie Irving, Kentucky's Brandon Knight, Connecticut's Kemba Walker -- all went to teams with an incumbent option or options at the one.

Starting from Day 1 has proven to be a blessing for recent point guard prodigies like Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls and Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder. Getting NBA reps at the earliest age possible -- with a support staff and management structure that trusted in their abilities -- was vital in the development for both. Last year's No. 1 selection, John Wall, followed that same track for the Wasington Wizards. But Irving, Knight and Walker could face slightly different circumstances. Let's take a look at each.

Kyrie Irving -- Cleveland Cavaliers

The No. 1 overall pick, Irving, out of Duke University, is the most NBA-ready point guard prospect in this year's group. He goes to a team that needs a new face, a new identity and a new direction after an awful season that resulted from the departure of LeBron James. He's got the size, smarts, scoring instincts and play-making ability to start from Day 1. He should start from Day 1.

The only problem? The Cavaliers have former All-Star Baron Davis and capable back-up Ramon Sessions already on the roster. Sessions' agent made it clear earlier this summer that something would have to give if Cleveland drafted Irving, but nothing gave on draft night. Neither Davis nor Sessions was traded. Daniel Gibson looms too, as he played a fair number of backcourt minutes last year as well.

The ideal scenario long-term would be to move Davis and the remaining money on his contract, however possible. That would allow the Cavaliers to turn the keys over to Irving immediately, with Sessions, a very capable and fairly paid back-up, able to step in and play big minutes as needed behind Irving or alongside of him. Gibson, if his $4.4 million salary for 2011-2012 couldn't be moved, would then provide depth.

The only problem? Davis is on the books for $13.9 million next season and has a $14.8 million player option for 2012-2013 so there may not be any takers until he becomes an expiring contract at the end of next season. Theoretically, the Cavaliers could make him an amnesty clause casualty, depending on the terms of the next Collective Bargaining Agreement.

If Irving and Davis are both on the roster, Cleveland will need to get to work on Davis, making sure he understands his role as a veteran on a rebuilding team. At 32, Davis' job now is not to lead Cleveland to the playoffs. His job is to help mentor Irving into a franchise, All-Star caliber player.

Brandon Knight -- Detroit Pistons

The Pistons were a dysfunctional mess last season under coach John Kuester, who tried all sorts of different things at point guard, including a Tracy McGrady experiment. 

Brandon Knight -- a very talented, intelligent prospect who has done his best to shake off the "combo guard" label since finishing his one season at Kentucky -- enters the mix on a roster that currently has Rodney Stuckey, who was recently extended a qualifying offer for next season, and the undersized but capable Will Bynum. Knight is not as ready as Irving this year or as ready as Wall was last year, so turning the keys over to him immediately would mean a long, painful journey.

The biggest question for the Pistons is what to do with Rodney Stuckey. Knight's presence certainly makes the team less dependent on Stuckey, so if someone makes an offer that is too rich for Detroit's blood, they won't be in a position where they will be forced to overpay to retain him. With that said, keeping Stuckey around if possible is worth doing. He is talented and will draw trade interest down the road, especially if he's retained on a reasonable deal, once Knight develops. 

Assuming Stuckey returns, which would be the best case scenario, Knight should plug in as the second string point guard, playing as many minutes as he can handle and given every opportunity to prove himself to be a starter. In that scenario, Bynum becomes expendable. He's on the books for $3.25 million for each of the next two seasons and there should be a decent market for his services at that number.

If Stuckey either isn't retained or is moved in a sign-and-trade, Bynum becomes the Day 1 starter, with Knight as the back-up. In an ideal world, Knight responds to that role well and potentially works his way ahead of Bynum by the middle or latter half of the 2011-2012 season. If the learning curve happens to be steeper, Bynum remains in place. If the Pistons fall totally out of the Eastern Conference playoff chase given that rotation, Knight could take on the starter role, allowing the Pistons to get to work on the future.

Kemba Walker -- Charlotte Bobcats

On Draft night, the Bobcats executed a complicated three-way trade that shipped out forward Stephen Jackson and guard Shaun Livingston to land an extra top 10 pick and Corey Maggette. An under-reported highlight of this trade was getting out of Livingston's contract, as he was owed $3.5 million for 2011-2012 and 2012-2013. Clearing Livingston not only moved his salary but it also opened up plenty of minutes in Charlotte's backcourt.

Enter Kemba Walker, the star of the 2011 NCAA tournament and a potential franchise guard. He joins a stripped-down team that is clearly looking for a slash-and-burn style rebuilding project after the trade of Jackson and the 2011 deadline move of Gerald Wallace to the Portland Trail Blazers. Walker will join a backcourt that currently includes last year's starting point guard, D.J. Augustin, and two guards Gerald Henderson and Matt Carroll. That's it. Those are the only guards currently under contract for the 2011-2012 season.

In other words, Walker will be given free rein, likely as a third guard, to both score and distribute. He should have the ball in his hands plenty and should be encouraged to take as many shots as he wants. He'll be playing in a pressure-free environment as he learns the ropes. The Bobcats will surely encourage him to push Augustin for the starter's job, but anything past playing major minutes in a back-up role this year will be gravy. Augustin will become a restricted free agent following the 2011-2012 season so the Bobcats will have plenty of flexibility in terms of how they handle his future with the team. 

Going forward, new GM Rich Cho will have the luxury of shaping Charlotte's roster to fit Walker's skillset. Those moves will begin soon as the Bobcats clearly need to fill out their roster. Regardless, this is an excellent landing spot for Walker. He can move into a starter's role at his own pace while getting plenty of playing time immediately. The best of both worlds.
Posted on: June 24, 2011 12:37 am
Edited on: June 24, 2011 11:20 am
 

2011 NBA Draft Winners and Losers



Posted by Matt Moore

It's all over. After an underwhelming crop of draft choices led to a flurry of trades, the dust has settled and the picks are wearing the right hats, finally. Here are your winners and losers of the 2011 NBA Draft:

Winners

Cleveland Cavaliers: Irving is mostly a case of winning by default, but they wouldn't have been the first team to be unable to get out of their own way with an obvious pick. Irving gives them a franchise point guard to build around and was the best player overall in this draft. Going for Derrick Williams would have been sheer hubris in order to burn LeBron by choosing a replacement forward. Then, with the fourth, they could have opted for Valanciunas, which would have been a good pick. But there's a reason so many teams were chasing Tristan Thompson. His workouts showed how he would translate on the next level, and with that kind of athleticism, he provides a good running partner for Irving. They managed to not overcomplicate the combination of two top-five picks. They got good talent both small and big. That's a win right there.

Washington Wizards: The Wizards very quietly had a terrific draft. First Jan Vesely was available, who fits a need for them at slashing forward. With his athleticism and aggression, he makes a perfect partner to run the break with John Wall. Then, miraculously, Chris Singleton tumbled all the way down to No.18 where the Wizards jumped all over him. Singleton is a lottery talent that fell out of the top 14. He gives the Wizards the ability to move Andray Blatche if they can find a taker for his contract. He can rebound and defend exceptionally well. Singleton's length and athleticism, combined with a chip on his shoulder from dropping, makes him a great pick for the Wizards. Shelvin Mack in the second round was a great value pick for backup point guard.

Charlotte Bobcats: In a day, the Bobcats transformed Stephen Jackson, Shaun Livingston, the No.9 and No.19 into Corey Maggette, Bismack Biyombo, and Kemba Walker. That's a great haul. I've never been big on either of the Bobcats' draft picks, but when you consider the balance between an athletic super-freak who is unrefined and an established winner with limited upside, the Bobcats managed to grab two of the most hyped players in the draft. Biyombo provides length and athleticism to pair with Tyrus Thomas. Walker creates a complication at point guard with D.J. Augustin already being an undersized point guard. But Augustin has never won over the Bobcats organization and Walker will be given every chance to compete for the starting role. If his size issues aren't as much a concern as they've been made out to be, and if his shot creation translates to the next level, the Bobcats have just instantly created their foundation for the future while ditching one of their biggest contracts. A great start for the Cho era in Charlotte. 

Denver Nuggets: Raymond Felton got flipped for Andre Miller's non-guaranteed expiring contract and Jordan Hamilton, one of the steals of the draft who inexplicably fell. This for a guard the Nuggets didn't want in the first place. Oh, yeah, and they nabbed Kenneth Faried, who perfectly fits their needs and is a great value pick where they took him. Masai Ujiri is better than you.


Losers


Minnesota Timberwolves: Yes, again. Williams is a great pick, if they were moving Michael Beasley. Or if they were trading Williams. But David Kahn reportedly says they're not moving Williams. They wasted an opportunity to create more assets by moving either one, and instead, will now bullheadedly try to cram two similar players (three if you count Anthony Randolph) into a spot. It's a messy situation and Kahn should have taken one of the other offers made to him for the pick. Then there's the other trade, which was just a mess all over. They pulled in another Euro center to add to their collection, Brad Miller and his too-long, too-expensive contract, and ditched Jonny Flynn. The only redeeming quality is the future first which may or may not be protected into oblivion. Another sterling night for the Wolves. If Williams turns out to be worthy of the No.2 pick, and count me among the people that think he is, and the Wolves recognize that versus burying him as they did Kevin Love, this can be salvaged. From this vantage point, it doesn't look great. 

Update: Wolves wound up swapping Mirotic for the 28th and 43rd picks from the Bulls, then moved the 28th pick to Miami for the 31st pick, which they then sold as well as the 38th pick which was theirs. They used the 43rd on Malcolm Lee, and then traded for the 57th. While not getting Mirotic is a lot better than drafting him, they did all that and wound up with a first later, Malcolm Lee, and Targuy Ngombo. Not a great haul, there. Saved the boss some cash, though.

Golden State Warriors: How many guards can they need? New head coach Mark Jackson and GM Larry Riley constantly talked about defense. Then the Warriors took a shooter. They haven't moved Monta Ellis, so now on the roster they have Stephen Curry, Monta Ellis, Charlie Bell, Jeremy Lin, Acie Law and Reggie Williams. And they just added Klay Thompson. It was an unnecessary move with bigger players with more defensive presence available. The Warriors have enough talent to not need the best player available. But, again, they opt for the usual. Disappointing.

Portland Trail Blazers: Where did that come from? The Blazers first take a huge reach on Nolan Smith at No.21. Smith had his proponents as the draft got closer, and certainly isn't a terrible pick. But in taking him, they elected to create redundancy after trading too much (Andre Miller and Rudy Fernandez) for Raymond Felton. The result is a reformed back court as the Blazers had promised, but not nearly as good as one you would have thought they could carry with the pieces available. Smith may work out well, but he'll never be starter caliber. And, with as many talented guards as there were late in the draft, taking him was a bit of a shock. Jon Diebler is 6-6 and can shoot. That's about it.  


Individual Winners:


Jan Vesely: Underrated as everyone talked about Kanter and Valanciunas, Vesely not only winds up with a good team fit for himself, but stole the highlight of the night with a kiss on the mouth of his lady friend. Then he said "I like the John Wall game" in his TV interview. Vesely came off incredibly cool for a 21-year-old Euro who can't shoot.

Tristan Thompson: Congratulations, Tristan, you cleared about ten spots in three days! It's a marathon, not a race.

Joe Dumars: Lucks into Brandon Knight. Rodney Stuckey problem: solved.


Individual Losers:


Brandon Knight: Plummeted due to his attitude and wound up in dysfunctional Detroit.

Josh Selby: If there was no age limit to the draft, Selby would have been a top ten pick last year. Now he falls all the way to the second round.

Jordan Hamilton: Something really bad must have been found on Hamilton, medically or otherwise. There was a nineteen-pick differential between Hamilton and a player who has rumors of being older than listed with a back issue and a contract problem. That's not a good look for the Texas ex.
 
 
 
 
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