By Scott Lauer
December 26, 2013
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.
Hopefully you had a relaxing and enjoyable holiday season and are looking ahead to the rest of this Bobcats hopeful playoff run. It’s a good thing that they won four of their last five, because we’re approaching a very challenging stretch in the schedule. The Thunder are here on Dec. 27 (tied with the Blazers and Pacers for the best record in the NBA), followed by nine road games over their next 11! Then the Heat rolls into town immediately after that!
That playoff hunt has been a hot topic amongst Bobcats fans this season. Ordinarily, the consensus would be to feel elated if the team made the playoffs, but some would rather gain ping pong balls at the draft lottery next spring because there has been so much hype around the upcoming draft producing franchise-changing talent. That may prove to be an accurate statement, but I couldn’t disagree more about wanting a lottery pick vs. a playoff berth.
In the 10 years that I’ve been broadcasting Bobcats games (since their inception), by far the most exciting games to call were…PLAYOFF games. That was four seasons ago, as we faced the Orlando Magic. This is what sports is about; winning! Unfortunately, Orlando earned a sweep, but Time Warner Cable Arena was rocking like never before for those home games. It’s imperative to build a winning culture, and you do that by WINNING. That’s how morale improves, how you earn respect around the league and how you better position yourself to get free agents to come here.
The lottery hopeful’s argument is that in this particular year, if you draft any of several players, they can boost your team’s success whereby it would be worth “tanking,” to use the popular term, describing what teams may be doing to drop to the bottom of the standings to receive a high draft spot. Look, there is no guarantee that all (or any) of these hyped prospects will become major difference makers. IMy point is, too many fans get caught up in hype.
Of course, my next thrust is that in a draft lottery, chances are that a team is not going to be slotted in an inverse order from worst record on. We saw that two years ago, as New Orleans won the lottery.
Furthermore, getting back to the hype, I guarantee that a few years from now, one of these upcoming picks is going to be considered a major “bust.” There’s always one or multiple such picks high in the lottery every year. Remember names like Kwame Brown, Eddie Curry, Robert Swift, Chris Washburn, etc…all players that went No. 1 overall (or in the lottery) and obviously didn’t live up to the billing.
I’d rather take my chances like the Spurs have shown, to win consistently and steal guys in the draft late in the first round, rather than to always pin your hopes on that next year being the draft that turns the organization around.
Particularly heading into our transitional offseason when we shed the Bobcats name for the highly popular Hornets name, after just unveiling those outstanding logos/colors, it would help tremendously to come off our second playoff appearance in franchise history. The energy was almost palpable at our arena last week when we revealed the Hornets brand identity to our fans for the first time. That is what the atmosphere is like for a playoff game, which instantly catapults an organization into being relevant. That’s the rising emotional level of a fan base that I hope to see in mid-April once again, instead of hoping for lottery balls to fall our way.
Lauer Blog Archive:
12/19/13: Great December for Cats
12/12/13: VIDEO: Catching Up with Stephen Silas
12/5/13: VIDEO: Catching Up with Southerland
11/21/13: VIDEO: Catching Up with Adrien
11/14/13: Jefferson Returning to Form
11/7/13: Unsung Heroes Helping Early Success
11/1/13: Ready for Home Opener
10/2/13: Bench Will Be a Difference Maker
10/1/13: Jefferson Will Make an Impact