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Scott Howard-Cooper

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist would be a safe pick for Charlotte. But will the Bobcats go safe?
University of Kentucky athletics

At No. 2, MJ's Bobcats are keeping everyone guessing

Posted Jun 21 2012 10:09AM

No one outside their offices can be sure what the Bobcats are plotting with the second pick in the June 28 NBA Draft, partly because the Bobcats have several attractive options, partly because the Bobcats are good at throwing surprise parties and partly because -- did we mention? -- they are the Bobcats. Or as one rival general manager said when asked what Charlotte will do in the Draft: "I don't have any idea. I don't think they do either."

If there are to be real trade offers, they won't start coming in until next week. If they keep the pick, it's impossible to make a call yet because some top prospects have yet to audition. But, yes, the cloudiness in Charlotte also is the price of being the organization headed by a one-time superstar (Micahel Jordan) who picked Adam Morrison at No. 3 six years ago and Kwame Brown at No. 1 in 2001, while MJ was with Washington.

The truth? The Bobcats, before and after Jordan, are not the draft-night eco-disaster most would portray. Among the most-recent rookies, Kemba Walker couldn't hit a shot, but Bismack Biyombo developed quicker than even some within the team imagined. The 12th choice in 2009, Gerald Henderson, just averaged 15.1 points. With no first-rounder in '08, the 2007 lottery pick, Brandan Wright, was turned into Jason Richardson in a very good trade, and the 22nd pick was spent wisely on Jared Dudley.

The other truth -- the one particularly relevant heading toward the real start of the Draft after the Hornets take Anthony Davis at No. 1 -- is that Charlotte does not shy from the unpredictable. No one heard a word of Mike Dunlap so much as interviewing for the coaching job, and he just got hired. A year ago, it was difficult to imagine an organization desperately needing stability making the speculation pick with Biyombo, but look where he landed.

Which brings us to Andre Drummond.

Drummond would be a bold move, the gamble pick of the entire Draft, a gifted center with size (6-foot-11, 280) and athleticism to pair with Biyombo but with such a concerning lack of focus as a freshman at Connecticut that at least one executive said recently that Drummond could slide all the way out of the top 10. There is zero chance of that happening now.

But at No. 2? With the other options available? That would be risky even for the Bobcats.

Thomas Robinson, the power forward from Kansas, would be sensible at that spot. A team needing toughness would get an interior presence with the bonus of getting someone able to hit a mid-range jumper. Robinson would be the most NBA-ready at that spot, mostly likely to help the team jet up from their 7-59 record last season. Robinson would be a non-stop worker, too. The only concern is that he will be a good player for many years but does not have the superstar potential of the other candidates.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, the small forward from Kentucky, would be logical, an elite and versatile defender, certain help for one of the worst defenses in the NBA last season. If only he could hit a shot, he would be the easy call at No. 2. But with Kidd-Gilchrist on the wing and Biyombo inside, the Bobcats would have the foundation of a good defense.

Bradley Beal, the shooting guard from Florida, would be a sound choice. The Bobcats just finished last in the league in shooting, and Beal will hit from all over the floor, with range and the ability to create off the dribble. He projects as a good rebounder from the backcourt and, like the others, gets good marks for character. Beal has the most complete of the skill sets.

Charlotte has another possible direction: None of the above. It could trade down and add an experienced player along with a later pick or trade out of the first round entirely in exchange for a package of players. It could further blur the situation with workouts in the final days before the Draft. North Carolina small forward Harrison Barnes is coming in Thursday, for example, just before Robinson on Friday. That will keep everyone guessing.

That, and everything else.

Scott Howard-Cooper has covered the NBA since 1988. You can e-mail him here and follow him on twitter.

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