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Archive for January 14th, 2013

Of the Bobcats and the draft

The UPoR has a significant piece today on the Charlotte Bobcats draft prospects this year. Recall that current thinking in the NBA is that worst thing for a team to be is average — you don’t win many playoff games (if you make the playoffs) but you also don’t get a chance to maybe go early on draft day, and thus can’t really get much better. So instead of remaining mediocre, the thinking goes, teams should get worse in the short-run so they can get much better in the long run by dump talent in exchange for draft picks.

The Bobcats have embraced this model and have obviously perfected the getting worse part of this transformation plan. But there’s a payoff only if the franchise can acquire exceptional talent via the draft. And that may be the problem. The Charlotte Observer’s Rick Bonnell talked to two pro scouts that rate the upcoming draft as not that good, that the Bobcats were unlikely to get a difference maker. And that may happen just this year:

“The draft lottery was always supposed to be about exceptional players going to the worst teams,” said one of the scouts. “We’ve eroded the concept of ‘exceptional’ – exceptional doesn’t really exist anymore.”

Both scouts say that erosion can be traced to the so-called “one-and-done” rule that governs draft eligibility. Under the collective-bargaining agreement, U.S. players can’t be in the draft until they’re at least one season removed from their high school graduating class.

The unintended consequence of that, these scouts say, is players with pro aspirations now consider one season of college ball the maximum they should stay.

“Now they think one season is the ceiling, not just the floor,” one scout said. “That creates a problem.”

The problem, both said, is while this is better than kids turning pro out of high school, you’re still using high picks on players a long way from finished products. The days when a Tim Duncan, Grant Hill or Chris Mullin entered the NBA, with a clear understanding of how those players would fit, are long over.

So if it’s a huge roll of the dice as to what sort of talent you’re acquiring via the draft because of the “one-and-dones”, then doesn’t it call into question the validity of the Bobcats long-term strategy, which is based upon building upon such players?

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