Pawing Through Picks, a Few Could Stick
Posted Jun 23 2004 5:51PM
Charlotte Bobcats begin building process with expansion selections
June 23 -- In the interests of financial flexibility, the Charlotte Bobcats expansion selection on Tuesday night was devoid of any big names -- and the big contracts that come with them -- with Head Coach and General Manager Bernie Bickerstaff instead opting for 19 youngsters who combined to start 76 games in 2003-04. Center Jahidi White, the eldest player on the squad at 28, was the only selection to start more than 15.
Primoz Brezec CenterBuried deep on the Indiana Pacers' bench, this 7-1 center out of Slovenia has appeared in only 62 games over three seasons, averaging 5.5 minutes. His size alone should get him increased playing time in 2004-05 -- if anything, he's another big body to guard the basket -- and Bickerstaff likes his mid-range shooting touch.
Brandon Hunter ForwardA 6-7 rookie for the Celtics in 2003-04, Hunter didn't play a minute until January, but he soon found himself in Boston's starting lineup. His playing time continued to be limited, but Hunter showed some tenacity on the glass, grabbing 5.4 boards in 19.3 minutes per game as a starter -- that's 13.4 rebounds per 48 minutes. But with the Bobcats expected to take Emeka Okafor or Dwight Howard with the No. 2 pick in tomorrow's NBA draft, Hunter will effectively be relegated to reserve duty.
Jason Kapono ForwardKapono was little-used during his rookie year in Cleveland, averaging 10.4 minutes in 41 games, but the Bobcats love his 6-8 size combined with his ability to hit the long-range shot. Knocking down 21 of his 44 3-point attempts (.477) in 2003-04, Kapono can provide the team with a legitimate deep threat that will be a big help to its half-court execution.
Jamal Sampson ForwardSampson remains a bit of a mystery after playing in only 15 games over two seasons, but he has good size and athleticism at 6-11, and like Hunter, he's shown a nose for the basketball while on the floor. In 10 appearances for the Lakers last year, he averaged 5.2 rebounds in 13.0 minutes, or 19.2 boards per 48 minutes. He also hinted at some offensive aptitude, hitting 11-of-23 (.478) from the field.
Theron Smith ForwardUndrafted last year out of Ball State, Smith landed in Memphis courtesy of one of the most respected evaluators of talent in the league, Jerry West. "Not only is Theron Smith an exceptional talent and athlete, but he is also a quality young man," said West following Smith's selection on Tuesday. In Hubie Brown's extended rotation, Smith played more minutes (178 in 20 games) than any other Grizzlies rookie, averaging 2.2 points and 2.1 rebounds and knocking down 6-of-12 from 3-point range.
Gerald Wallace ForwardDuring his three years in Sacramento, Wallace never got much playing time on one of the NBA's deepest squads, averaging only 9.7 minutes. But he has displayed exceptional athleticism in his ability to slash to the rim for thunderous dunks, and in his one start in 2003-04, he posted 16 points and 11 rebounds. Bickerstaff, however, believes Wallace can be an effective contributor at the other end of the floor, telling Bobcats.com, "Hes hopefully a player who will be able to take on the challenge of being a defensive stopper for us."
Jahidi White CenterEntering his seventh season, this 6-9, 290-pound bruiser is Charlotte's most experienced player -- he won't be an offensive force, but he provides toughness in the paint and can rebound the basketball. White's best season was 2000-01, when he averaged 8.6 points and 7.7 rebounds for the Washington Wizards, but his minutes have declined since then, with his 14.0 mpg last year the fewest since his rookie year. As an added bonus, the Bobcats also received a future first-round pick and cash from Phoenix in exchange for selecting White.