Friday, June 27, 2008

My head hurts

That's what an NBA Draft will do to you. I told my wife when I got home Thursday night how excited I was to go to work. Going to cover the Draft with all the anticipation of a 6 year old on Christmas morning. Just geeked about all the possibilities.

Wow, what a let down.

The Charlotte Bobcats were hoping to inject some life and energy into their franchise with the draft, and from my chair, they missed the mark. Big.

I said it on the air Thursday night that the 3 men in charge of making the picks, Head Coach Larry Brown, GM Rod Higgins, and Co-owner (and Managing Member of Basketball Operations) Michael Jordan have forgotten more about the game than I will ever know. STILL, when the roster was screaming BIG at the #9 pick, they went with a guard. Not a slacker guard, mind you. D.J. Augustin had a nice 2 year stint in college. He was the Bob Cousy winner as the best point guard in college hoops last season.

Jerryd Bayless (a guard) was still available, as was Brook Lopez (a center). Both were players that seemed to be on the Bobcats radar. Both Bayless and Lopez were rated higher than Augustin in every pre-draft rankings list I looked at. Augustin has impressive credentials, but this seems like a bit of a gamble here, for my tastes.

Before I continue to hammer Augustin into the ground, I will say that in 2 years in the Big 12, he was one of the best players on the floor every time he laced his shoes up. He does have the game to play at the next level, and will be a good player in this league. He's no stiff, and he will be brutalized by Coach Brown as he develops. Brown is tough on his point guards, so Augustin had better be ready. Augustin will be a solid guard for this team, but the message is mixed with Raymond Felton. Rumors floated around on draft night that he could be dealt, although Jordan said after the draft that the team is planning on having Felton around. I like Raymond--I hope MJ is being honest here.

The reason for my ranting is it seemed the Bobcats addressed their needs with the best player available, but in reverse, and their 2nd pick in round one was even more astonishing.

Alexis Ajinca at #20? This is a player that may not even be STATESIDE in the fall. This to me was a reach as well, considering the Bobcats heed help NOW, not down the road. The selection of Ajinca (who Brown said Thursday could have been a top 3 pick in next year's draft, so he sees something in him), does absolutely nothing for this franchise if Ajinca stays in Europe this season, for whatever reason. The Bobcats have to obtain his rights from his club in Europe (from what I was told), before he can come to Charlotte. Jordan said last night that Ajinca has good range for a big man, but that range likely does not include the Atlantic Ocean.

I don't get it. I am trying, but I just don't get it.

Then, this morning I hear of an almost deal that would have sent Gerald Wallace to Toronto for T.J. Ford (who was later dealt to Indiana for Jermaine O'Neal)? I love Wallace for his hustle, heart, desire, leaping ability, tenacity, all of it. The guy is a fan favorite. Dealing him would have been, and could very well be a gut punch the fan base may not forget.

This was Michael Jordan's 3rd draft with this team. He was high on Adam Morrison, then last year's picks of Jared Dudley and Jermareo Davidson. Now Augustin, Ajinca, and Kyle Weaver in round 2. Jordan coming on board was thought to be a good thing for the fan base, as having him connected with such a young franchise could have a positive ripple effect, both in the fan base, and in the front office. You know, get people excited.

Hey fans. You excited yet?


Casey Mears won't return to Hendrick Motorsports in 2009. That came down this morning, officially from HMS. I hate it for Mears. He's a good, young, talented driver. And a nice guy to boot. It was a treat watching him get his first career Cup win at Lowe's Motor Speedway in the Coca Cola 600 in 2007. Problem is, though, nice doesn't equal wins, and that is what drives competition. Mears will land another ride, and I wish him well. Mark Martin should be the guy to replace Mears at Hendrick. That is a fit that makes sense, too.


Anonymous said...

Hey Mike, did you look at the stat sheet from the NBA final game? Lakers starters -11 assists. Celtics starters 36 assists. Rick Barnes had to order Augustin to shoot because he loves assists so much. Do you really think Brook Lopez should replace Okafor? Do you really think Felton cares that much about assists? Look at Sports Illustrated this week for the list of teams that chose highly-rated big men and left future all-star little guys on the board. I think this may be a really good draft for the Bobcats - time will tell.

Mike Solarte said...

I agree time will tell, but the Bobcats aren't afforded the luxury of time. Attendance numbers are down, season ticket numbers aren't as strong as they would like (read, likely also trending down), and the city's bad taste from Shinn-Ridge lives on. This team needs to grab a foothold and soon. And for the record, I WANT them to succeed, since I like positives rather than negatives, but this draft (at least right now) did nothing to make me pleased.

As you said, time will tell...if there is time to do so.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

catfish said...

Hey Mike you are being too easy on the front office what with their so called expert opinions.We could have had Brook Lopez not to replace Okafor but so he could move to forward where he would be a greater player.But no we draft a player that wont even be here to play.I give them no better than a D-.As always we will be watching someone else play come playoffs.Thanks for a traveling coach and no good team.

Ken Smith said...

Solarte,if the Bobcats were white owned i don't think you and the rest of your folks would be so critical,i see right through you.That's why i hate white media,when yall folks have a black owner,manager or athlete issue,yall will run a marathon about it,but let it be one of yall's Great White HOPES,you folks will sugar-coat yall critique.RACIST MINDED

Anonymous said...

Jordan, Higgins, and Brown made extremely poor choices in the draft. Why would a team draft a guy standing 7' feet tall and weigh around 225-230 lbs! He will be banged around a lot against the taller and heavier post players. Why draft a point guard when there are a couple of solid post players that can free up Okafor in the paint! Bobcat fans look forward to another shameful season! Jordan proved he could not win in Washington as a GM and the same is holding true in Charlotte

Anonymous said...

Dear Ken Smith,

You are not a bright individual. Solarte never once injected race into anything that was written. Maybe you should read it again. And like another comment poster mentioned, Jordan has yet to prove he can be an effective front office person.

I do hope Solarte is wrong about this draft being a stinker, but truth is, he's not far off the mark with his assessment.

KA said...

Mike, you said in a previous post that the 'Cats could possibly get Lopez at No. 9. I thought it was a pipe dream. But there he was for the taking -- and the Bobcats passed. I couldn't believe it.

How many chances does a team get to grab a bona fide NBA center with some semblance of offensive skills? Lopez would fill in a big hole at the 5 and allow Okafor and Crash to play their natural positions. It just seemed like a perfect fit.

Possible explanations:
A) The Bobcats didn't really rate Lopez
B) They thought they could get Hibbert or another decent big man at No. 20
C) Larry Brown wants to start from scratch
D) A combination of the above

One thing's for sure -- I bet the Bobcats wish they could reverse that Nuggets trade. No chance they moved up with the intention of taking that French dude. Seems to me like they missed on Hibbert and a couple other guys and were left saying, "Well, dammit that didn't work, let's just roll the dice and hope we get lucky."

Dave o said...

All Drafts are a crapshoot except the rare Lebron or kobe. Let it play out might work out and you the racist calm down this has nothing to do with race. Lust basketball operations, and the game itself .

Dave o said...

Did not mean lust[ but than again with Jordans rep] Meant Just