By Scott Lauer
September 20, 2012
Scott Lauer is the radio play-by-play voice of the Charlotte Bobcats. His column will appear on bobcats.com on Thursdays throughout the season. The opinions expressed here are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Bobcats organization.
The Bobcats made transactions this offseason that will benefit the organization both in the short and long term. There were five player acquisitions, and a head coaching hire that were all prudent decisions, as I see them.
- Success starts with the draft, so we must start here. With the No. 2 overall pick in the draft, the Bobcats took Michael Kidd-Gilchrist out of Kentucky. MKG is the prototypical NBA player – he’s athletic. Look at this past year’s NBA Finals featuring Miami and Oklahoma City. Players like Lebron James, Dwyane Wade, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden (to an extent) carried those teams. Could I picture MKG athletically competing with those guys? YES. Not many teams have a player that can defensively lock down an athletic 1, 2, or 3. MKG will prove to be that type of piece defensively. He just turned 19, making him the youngest player in the league, so he has years to develop a well-rounded offensive game. He’s a hard slasher to the rim who puts pressure on defenses, and he can handle the ball. He has many Scottie-Pippen-like qualities about him. On top of all of that, he’s an upstanding young man with a wonderful demeanor. MKG is a competitor! He has the foundation to grow into a special player with all of those characteristics.
- Jeff Taylor was the top pick of the second round and is another strong defender with sneaky athleticism and an outside shot. He’s a mature 23-year-old out of Vanderbilt who will make teams wish that they took him in the first round. Anytime you can get a player that shot 40 percent from beyond the arc who possess athleticism and is engaged defensively, you have to be encouraged.
- Ben Gordon was obtained in the offseason with a future first round pick from Detroit in exchange for Corey Maggette. Gordon is a superior player to the one that Charlotte traded; that helps in the short term. This team needed better 3-point shooting and Gordon brings that range. He shot 43 percent from the arc last year. I’ve always enjoyed his competitive spirit over the years as well. What I like even more from that deal was the ability to acquire a first round pick from Detroit. It’s top-14 protected in 2013, and then the protection loosens gradually each remaining year. There’s a chance that in June, 2014 the Bobcats will have three first round picks (their own, Detroit’s and Portland’s) and have eye-popping cap space at their disposal.
- Ramon Sessions has been arguably the most underrated guard in the NBA and Charlotte signed him to a two-year deal. He essentially replaces D.J. Augustin, and as much as I admired what Augustin could do, Sessions is the better player. There career numbers are similar, but Sessions is the better defender. Sessions flourished in 23 games with the Lakers last year (after being traded by Cleveland), as he shot 48 percent overall, and 49 percent from 3-point range. He’s only 26 years old, and has the chance to be the team’s MVP.
- Brendan Haywood was amnestied by Dallas and the Bobcats made a fine risk/reward play here. By NBA standards, they’re not spending much money (the Mavs will pay most of the contract), and he has quality minutes left in his body. Three years ago he shot 56 percent with 10 rebounds per game for Washington. He’s a Greensboro native who’s maintained a home here, so one would figure that this is an easy transition for him.
- The team named Mike Dunlap its fifth head coach this offseason. Dunlap spent most of his career in college while logging a couple of years assisting George Karl in Denver. He’s an inspirational speaker with an authoritative delivery and appears to be an excellent fit for a team on the rise. I love his aggressive playing philosophy, particularly on the defensive end where a trapping, full-court press has been stressed. That will play well with this young roster. It’s an exciting style that can create turnovers and lead to easy points.