Inside the Bobcats Draft Room

June 23, 2011

The Bobcats drafted Kemba Walker with the No.9 pick and traded for the rights to No. 7 pick Bismack Biyombo along with Corey Maggette in a three-way trade to give Charlotte two lottery picks in the 2011 NBA Draft. was there to bring you inside the Bobcats Draft Room. (Watch video)

Following Charlotte's No. 9 pick, Matt Rochinski of caught up briefly with Bobcats Assistant Coach Stephen Silas to get his take on the pick:

(On how excited the Bobcats are about the pick)
It’s a great pick for us. One of our weaknesses this past year was scoring, so to have someone who can score the ball the way he can and to bring all the intangibles like being a winner, big-shot taker and big-shot maker – it’s a great day for us.

(On if they expected Walker to be available at No. 9)
We were a little surprised to see him at No. 9. It’s such a fluid draft this year that we really didn’t know who was going to go where. There were a bunch of scenarios on our board and we were really, really happy when he was available at that spot.

Kemba Walker checked in with media to get his take on being drafted by the Charlotte Bobcats:

(His impressions on being drafted by the Bobcats at the No. 9 pick)
I’m extremely happy. I feel like I’ve really been given one of the best opportunities in this draft. I’m going to a team that’s run by Michael Jordan, the best player to ever play the game. I’ve got a lot to learn from him and I’m definitely going to go in with an open mind and try to pick his brain and be the best player that I can be. It’s an amazing feeling.

(On if he was surprised by being picked by Charlotte)
No, not at all. I came into this draft with not higher expectations. I was just patient and ready to be selected by whatever team. At this point, the number doesn’t matter, to tell you the truth. I’m just happy that the Bobcats are giving me a great opportunity.

(On if he’s ready to take some of the scoring load for the Bobcats)
I’m the kind of player that does whatever the team asks of him. I’m going to try my best to do it for them. Whatever the Bobcats need me to do, I’m going to try my best to do it for them.

(On if he thinks he’ll be relied upon to score so much)
Yeah, I don’t know, honestly. I have no idea. If that’s what they need me to do, I’m going to try my best to do it. I’m going to continue to work hard. Whatever the staff asks me to do, I’m going to try my best.

(On if he talked to Bismack Biyombo)
I just told him ‘Congratulations,’ and that’s it. We didn’t really speak a lot; it was the first time I met him today. I hear he’s a pretty good player, but I didn’t get to see him play much. They say he’s like a Ben Wallace, so it sounds really good. He’s a shot-blocker, so of course any basketball team. So, I’m looking forward to it.

(On the call he got from Michael Jordan letting him know he was drafted)
Man, it was an amazing feeling, talking to Michael Jordan. He told me he’s happy to have me. I’m definitely happy that he’s giving me the opportunity. I’m going to work my butt off. Work my butt off, to try to make an impression on him and the coaching staff. Hopefully, we can be a good team next season.

(On his height and working with D.J. Augustin)
We didn’t speak about how me and D.J. would fit each other, but as far as my height, that can’t be changed. He really didn’t have a problem with it. I’ve been this height for a long time and I’ve been doing well with it. I’m just going to continue to play the way I play and I’m going to continue to stay intense and just have heart out there. I think that’s what gets me over the hump.

(On how he and Augustin would compete for the starting job)
I don’t know him, personally. But myself, I’m going to go in there and I’m going to play hard and I’m going to fight hard. I’m going to try my best to push him also, so he can be the best player he can be, since we’re teammates. Whatever we can do to make that team better, I’m willing. Me having to play less minutes behind D.J., even me coming in and starting, I’m going to do it.

(On where Charlotte ranked for him)
Charlotte was probably my best workout, honestly. I look forward to being here. I definitely think Charlotte was my best.

(On his family in North Carolina)
My sister lives up here right now. She lives in Charlotte, and my grandmother lives up there.

(On his leadership)
I feel like every point guard, starter or not, has to be a leader that has to be vocal, that has to lead by example. As far as me coming and being a leader, it’s going to be hard. I know that. I know it’s going to be hard. I’m only 21. There’s guys on that team that’s been there for a while. It’s going to be hard to get their respect at first, but I’m just going to continue to play hard, work hard, be a gymrat and hopefully those guys will respect me.

President of Basketball Operations Rod Higgins and General Manager Rich Cho on the night of the draft.

Opening Statement from Rod:

I think that we were able to get two young pieces that we were targeting. We’ve been talking about this process for the last four or fives days – a collaborative effort from our coaching staff, our scouting staff and obviously, our ownership group.

(On if Biyombo is a power forward, center, or both)ROD: I think he can be both, to be honest. His upside is still tremendous. The attributes that this young man has are right in your face, with his athleticism, ability to block shots, ability to change ends of the court and I think his offensive game is obviously untapped. I’m sure our coaching staff is looking forward to working with him.

(On if his buyout is a concern)RICH: He’s got a dispute with his Spanish team and that’s something that we’re going to address. It’s a little bit complicated. I don’t really want to get into the details, just out of respect for Bismack. It’s something we’re definitely going to address.

(On if Biyombo will be available to play next season)RICH: I think he will be here.

(On when the trade discussions for the 7th pick and moving Stephen Jackson began to intensify)ROD: A couple of days ago, we started to have conversations. Yesterday, it got to a quicker pace. Then this morning when we got to the office around lunchtime, we got together with our scouting staff and it came together. Everybody was on board and we were able to get it done.

(On if Bismack was always the target)RICH: Yeah, he’s a guy that we’ve targeted and we’ve looked at. I went to see him last month in Spain and worked him out, had dinner with him, just really loved him as a player and a person. When you guys meet him, you’ll see what I mean. He’s just a wonderful person. We see a lot of upside in his game. He’s got a wingspan of 7’7” and a reach of 9’3”. He’s got a great work ethic. All the background work and research we did was positive and we’re just really excited to have him.

(On the pleasant surprise of being able to draft Kemba Walker)RICH: He was a guy we really targeted, too. It’s really rare that you can get two guys in the top ten. If we only had one pick, it would have been tough to pick just one. But we were able to make a move and get two picks in the top ten and we’re just thrilled to get them.

(On losing Stephen Jackson and how they will make up the scoring his would bring)ROD: I think we all know what Stephen brought to the table. His positives were – he was tough-minded, he could make a clutch shot., he could put up a lot of points for you, he had leadership qualities. I think the one thing that people don’t see is that he was a very good teammate and he’s always been with these guys. I’m sure that’s going to be missed. Scoring those 20 points per game, that’s something we’re going to have to figure out. Corey Maggette’s going to come in here, and that’s one of his strong points. He’s going to get up and down the floor, he’s going to get to the free-throw line, he’s probably going to make 85 percent of his free throws over the course of the season. He’s going to be a guy that we’re going to lean on. Not just Corey; there’s going to be an opportunity for a lot players to pick up the slack. We’re looking forward to getting those guys on the court. I’m sure Coach Silas and his staff will have them in a good position.

(On where the team stands right now)ROD: When you look at our team, yeah, you can say we’re a young team. But I don’t think you can go into that locker room when we have that team together and say that we’re rebuilding. If you say to one of our players, like Gerald Henderson or D.J. Augustin, those young vets or Tyrus Thomas, they feel that they’re capable of competing every night. I think for you guys, you’ll put the questions to us and you’ll question if we’re ready to compete at a playoff level. That’s what happens when you have young assets. We made the Wallace trade so we could get these young assets to get in the position to, as Rich would always say, try to sustain success over a long period of time. That success is hopefully not far away.

(On how Stephen Jackson and Shaun Livingston took the news)ROD: When I spoke to Stephen this afternoon, he was actually pretty good. We had a candid conversation. Stephen’s always been a candid communicator and he loved it here in Charlotte. I think he was disappointed because I think he felt that he could be a piece to help us get back to some success and get back to the playoffs. But he understands the business. I’m sure it’s an emotional time for him, but he’s a pro. He’ll suit up wherever he goes. Also, speaking of Shaun Livingston, he was quite the professional. He just thanked us for the opportunity. He’s going through a time where he’s trying to get back to where he was, so to speak. He was thankful and wished us well.

(On how Augustin and Walker will coexist)ROD: You know, competition is great. It’s great in your job, it’s great in my job. It makes people compete at a high level. It’ll be interesting to see how both of those guys will, because in size they’re comparable, but in style of play, they’re totally different in a lot of ways. We’ll see, we’ll see. I think both of them are very good basketball players. I’m sure the competitive spirit will come to the forefront and Coach will figure it out.

(On the difference in play between Augustin and Walker)ROD:
D.J. is more of a catch-and-shoot guy, a guy that can dribble penetrate, but not as good as a finisher as Kemba. Kemba is a guy that’s probably built as a scorer in a point guard’s body. He gets great separation with his ability to move side-to-side, east to west, if you can visualize that. Great step-backs, the ability to screen and roll very well. In our game, you know the screen and roll is very important. Down the stretch you got to have a guy that can use the screen and roll, getting in the paint, create for others and I think Kemba has that attribute. I think D.J. is a young vet and he’s confident. He can shoot the lights out of the basketball, particularly from the three, excellent free throw shooter. I think they can complement each other.

(On if he’s surprised by the moves that have been made since the playoffs nearly a year ago)ROD:
Not really. It’s part of the league. If you are not a lot of times, a championship caliber team, you’re trying to fix it and you’re always trying to tweak you’re roster; you’re trying to improve it. To be honest, I’m not surprised; it’s just part of the business.

(On having to address defensive issues at the point guard)ROD:
Coach always wants to have a third point guard. The point guards that we have now are comparable in size and height but if we can get a different type of point guard – a Shaun Livingston type of guy who can play both positions, good size and ability to score in the post, yeah, we’ll try to get a different type of point guard.

(On Augustin and Walker possibly playing together at the same time on the court)RICH: Yeah, I think that anytime that you have two guys that are competitive like that and are good teammates, can shoot the ball and handle the ball, there going to be able to play together. You’re going to have your issues when you play bigger teams, but we’re going to up and down the court and both our games are conducive to playing up-tempo. So, Paul’s excited about it.

(On Biyombo’s ability to run the floor)RICH: Bismack can really run. He’s super-athletic. His timing’s great on blocked shots. I think the fans are going to like him. He’s just a really unique player.

(On where the moves leave this team)RICH: I wouldn’t necessarily view it as a step back. We got two top-ten picks, a guy that won the National Championship last year, a proven winner; Bismack is a really young up-and-coming player. When I was with Oklahoma City and we drafted Serge Ibaka, nobody knew who he was. Bismack’s got a long way to go before he’s the player Serge is, but he’s got a lot of physical tools and one thing you’re going to find is he’s going to be one of the first guys in the gym and one of the last guys out. And guys like that have a tendency to improve.

(On DeSagana Diop and Kwame Brown)ROD:
We are planning for [Diop] to be on schedule to be ready for training camp, to compete for minutes. We’ve talked about Kwame. We would love to have him back. That’s something that we’ll address at a later time. But speaking about Bismack, I’ll talk about a few points with him. He’s a kid that is so engaging and when you get a chance to talk to him tomorrow and you see his personality and you see how he’s going to interact with you in the community, he has an infectious way about his personality. He’ll almost disarm you to let you know he’s a guy that’s trying to improve the most on the team. I think what he does is going to help this team as a whole. He’s going to be an 18-year-old guy that’ll have leadership qualities, which are hard to find. Couple that with the fact that the other young man, Kemba Walker, they’re a lot alike in that way. Kemba has a unique confidence about himself that he’s going to be a leader. He’s going to be a leader in that locker room at 21 years old. So we feel good about both of those guys. I think that both of their backgrounds are excellent and I think they’re both winners. Kemba, you’ve seen his ability to win on a national stage. And Bismack, you’ll see it when you have an opportunity to talk and meet him.