Fans of the Charlotte Bobcats — let’s pause here for laughter to die down, as Bobcats fans are rarer than 14-year-olds who haven’t see The Avengers yet — are banking a lot on the upcoming NBA Draft.
More importantly — and much larger in scale — fans of Michael Jordan everywhere have their fingers crossed that he doesn’t screw this up.
Even after losing Anthony Davis — to the dreaded, evil New Orleans Hornets — there’s plenty at stake. (Although, there’s still a shot: Hey, New Orleans, you want a tall guy? Two words: Andre Drummond. The Connecticut center is ONE INCH taller than Davis. So, you know, pick him instead. Thanks.)
The Bobcats have their choice of any draft-eligible amateur basketball player in the world NOT named Anthony Davis. Think about that. That’s hundreds of dudes, and they can get any of them.
That sounds great, but there’s this statistical fact (that I totally just made up): In a GOOD draft, if there are 200 guys available, 190 of them will end up making little to no impact on the NBA. The majority of those guys have a better chance at being WNBA all stars. Around 150 of them will have the same NBA stat line that I do, which is non-existent.
Around 5-10 of them will be Steve Blake — regular starters who contribute in some way and have quality, if unspectacular, careers. Three of them will be Jerry Stackhouse — long-term starters who, while never really making it big, always seem as if they COULD make it big. One of them will be Vince Carter — a regular all star who racks up big stats but never seems to bring his career together. And, if you’re lucky, one or two players will emerge as franchise-changing talent. Assuming Davis is one, that means the Bobcats have one shot at finding the other.
And that’s BEST-case scenario. Let’s not talk about bad drafts, such as 1986 or 1990 or 2000.
Which means Charlotte has a much bigger chance at screwing things up than it does at getting it right. And if the Bobcats franchise has proven one thing since its creation, it knows how to screw up drafts. Yes, we’re looking at you Sean May and Adam Morrison and Alexis Ajinça. Or, rather, we would look at you, if we knew where the fuck any of you were.
Which is such a shame. Because no one wants to see Bobcats owner Michael Jordan become a punchline (although he’s doing a GREAT job at that himself, what with his horrible clothing choices).
If you grew up in the 1980s or 1990s, you love Jordan. You just do. You might be from Cleveland, Detroit, or New York, (you might have rooted against him) but you still bought his shoes, watched his commercials, and memorized his VHS documentary Come Fly With Me. Jordan (like Ruth or Ali or Petty or Gretzky or Tiger, before the porn stars) is above the normal love him/hate him dynamics of athletic stardom.
And he doesn’t lose. He CAN’T lose. We don’t want him to be a loser. We want him jumping from the free-throw line, tongue out, for ever and ever and ever. Even if you want his team to not win, you still want Jordan to find a way to not lose. And, yes, that makes total sense.
But so far, he has really, really sucked as an owner and a GM. It’s not too late to change that — in the NBA, more so than most leagues, you are one good draft pick away from being important for the next 10-15 years — but this is the draft that needs to happen. This year. Now.
And, hey, he has made SOME good decisions, such as plucking whiz kid Rich Cho from Oklahoma City and installing him as general manager. If anyone should know talent, it’s Cho, who had a hand in the Thunder’s recent success.
Which is why it’s so mind-numbingly painful to read on CNNSI.com that “the buzz about the Bobcats is that, despite general manager Rich Cho’s considerable influence, it still comes down to which player Michael Jordan falls in love with during this process.”
Michael, please, PLEASE — fans of the NBA everywhere beg you — PLEASE draft Thomas Robinson. It’s so simple! Fall in love with HIM. Don’t over think this. We’ve seen your gambling debts; making decisions that involve taking in a lot of info is not your strong suit.
Robinson’s your best shot. Seriously. And if he fails, at least it won’t be your fault, because the whole planet thinks he’s the second best player in the country. Let’s say you didn’t completely screw it up last year and the year before, and the guys you picked are just a year or so away from major impacts, then you’re starting with a lineup of D.J. Augustin, Kemba Walker, Gerald Wallace, Bismack Biyombo and Robinson. And, hey, that’s not bad.
Or you could take Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Look, I think that’s a riskier pick; taking a 19-year-old small forward not named Kevin Durant usually is. But MKG does have tons of upside. (By the way, “upside” is a term only used in sports. No hospital has ever said, “Yes, Dr. Johnson had poor grades in medical school, but we hired him because he has tons of upside.”) At least the choice would be defensible — you know, until Robinson wins Rookie of the Year.
Or you could take Harrison Barnes, who most of Charlotte think you will find a way to take. You know, because that’s exactly the sort of thing you do with a top draft pick.
Oh, you might not take him No. 2 — you probably aren’t that stupid (please, PLEASE don’t be that stupid) — but you could always trade down and take him. It probably won’t be hard to find someone who wants to draft Robinson, you know, since he’s awesome and all.
And, folks, if that happens, let’s close the book on the Jordan era. In fact, let’s close it in 1998 and just ignore anything that happened since then. Because taking Barnes would be a horrible decision. Kwame Brown bad? Well, no. But bad.
The kicker is Barnes might end up being a good NBA player. On Cleveland — playing for a quality point guard, where he can be the second or third scoring option — Barnes might excel. But ask him to be The Man in a city looking for a savior? No. He can’t. Anyone who watched the Tar Heels the last two years knows this about Barnes.
And you know who watched the Tar Heels the last two years? Bobcats fans. You know who else? Jordan. And if Jordan watched Barnes and came away thinking, “There’s my franchise player,” well, that tells you everything you need to know about Michael Jordan: Champion Basketball Executive.
There’s still hope. There always is. As a player, Jordan could make mistakes and turn them into great plays. He could take John Henson No. 2 (please, PLEASE don’t do this) and get lucky. You never know. OR a coconut could hit him on the head, and he could wake up and be a changed guy and totally decide to listen to Cho or anyone else. That could happen, too.
Either way, I am still rooting for the guy to get it right. I still want him to win, despite himself. At least for a few more weeks.