|Who will have the last laugh after the Bobcats pick Thursday night? (Getty Images)|
Michael Jordan eats pressure alive. He devours it and consumes it, it makes him stronger, along with your tears. He has no fear, no reserveration, and no consideration of the possibility of failure. It is this element in him that allowed him to become the greatest basketball player of all time.
It's also what can make him kind of a terrible owner and general manager for a basketball team.
Jordan too often is not involved enough with decisions, and when he is, tends to react from places which are not of sound reasoning. His draft history is littered with not just failure, no, tha would be too gentle. His draft history is a dumpster fire, burning alone outside a sewage treatment plant in the muggiest swamp you can think of. You need an iron-clad stomach to venture down that road of misery and after you come out, you're only going to feel worse about yourself as a person and us as a society.
So, no, he hasn't drafted well.
Thursday night represents a monumental decision for Jordan and a genuine chance to undo much of that perception of him. You're only as good as your last drft pick and the Bobcats have a high one. Unfortunately for him, the Bobcats were not only not blessed with the number one pick in Thursday night's draft, a right they should have held due to their "oh-my-why-is-that-stuffed-animal-being-run-over-by-a-truck" record last season, but they also managed to land No.2 in a year where there it isn't a two-man race, as it was in 2007 with Portland and Oklahoma City. There is a substantial gap between Anthony Davis and the field, and it's Jordan and Co.'s job to determine which of the leftovers they should take.
When the clock hits zero, the decision will not come from just Jordan, but from his staff, including Rich Cho who has put much thought, time, and effort into this process. But Jordan will be the one pulling the trigger, and it's Jordan who will be associated with the pick. Even if he's on the course all day and barely paying attention at night, the perception will be this is Mike's pick. So who's it going to be?
Thomas Robinson, the sure thing: The bust potential for Robinson is low. He's a hardworking big man with collegiate pedigree and a solid NBA frame who hustles and has decent footwork and hands. Best case sceanario, he's a monster down low who devours everything inside. Worst case scenario, he's a quality rotation big who lacks the explosiveness to be an All-Star. Not bad.
But will Jordan go with a player that may or may not be able to play with Bismack Biyombo, and who doesn't feature exceptional size? Will he recognize Robinson's bitterness about not being selected first in himself when he was drafted? Will Jordan go with something safe that may not save the franchise?
Bradley Beal, the exceptional talent: Pure shooter, athletic defender, talented all-around player. Beal has everything you're looking for in a star, except the numbers. He's compared to Ray Allen... but didn't shoot all that well from three for Florida. He's athletic... but not a superfreak like Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Beal has almost all of everything you want in a pick, but not all of anything you want in a pick. He's an exceptional talent with an unexceptional resume.
Does Jordan recognize himself in the gunner? Does he see the potential for him to surpass favorite Bobcat Gerald Henderson as a wing scoring machine? Does Beal have the killer mentality? Or will Jordan wait for someont to really wow him?
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, the killer robot: Hardworking to the core, with a superfreak athletic set and a can-do attitude, Gilchrist represents that which is most important to Jordan: winning. He won in high school, he won in college, he's relentless, athletic, and could be as good as can be if he puts all the skills together and finds a jumper and some handle.
But will MKG's lack of a jumper put Jordan off him? Will Kidd-Gilchrist's connections to World Wide Wes and Kentucky be considered attractive or off-putting to Jordan who never had an expansive entourage, early on? Will Jordan really put faith in someone who's biggest attribute is his attitude?
Harrison Barnes, the prodigy: It would make sense on the surface. Perimeter wing from the Midwest. Star for Carolina. Shooting stroke. Athleticism. Strong, fast, and agile. Who could resonate more with Jordan? But there's been very little indication in past months that Barnes is on the Bobcats' board. If Jordan and Barnes had connected at North Carolina, you'd hear about it by now.
Can Jordan risk another Carolina pick? Is Barnes' attitude in mesh with Jordan's own aggressiveness? Can he really consider Barnes special?
Trade down, the not-so-easy out: The Cats need help at every position. They need a whole new starting five, to be honest. So why not trade down for more depth and hope for better luck in the lottery next year? A trade down would gift the Bobcats with more flexibility and the potential to land a steal rather than the burden of trying to draft a star where there is none.
But can he really trade away the No. 2 pick in the draft? Can he give up the possibility of Beal, MKG, Barnes, Robinson turning into an All-Star and having given them up? Most importantly, can he look to the future and not focus on the present, considering his financial situation?
There are no easy answers to these questions. But on Thursday night, we'll have the answer to the most important one.
Who does Mike like?