The season after our first play off run as the Bobcats, we limped to a 34-48 record in 2010-11, and ended up with two draft picks in the 2011 draft: Bismack Biyombo (#7) and Kemba Walker (#9). In hindsight it may have been better to have gone with Kemba Walker (or Brandon Knight) at seven and Klay Thompson at nine. That could have given us the backcourt to help lead this team into a bright future. But overall the rebuild started promisingly because Kemba Walker has become a cornerstone of this team. But the other issue that we have faced as this team is that we have been unlucky in the subsequent drafts... Take the 2011-12 season when we ended the season with the worst record in the league. Instead of landing the top pick and getting Anthony Davis, we got the second overall pick and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Don't get me wrong, MKG has been a solid player for us, but he's not a star player or someone you can build a team around. If he develops into the calibre of player DeMarre Carroll was for the Hawks - a decent fourth or fifth option - then that is about his ceiling, but as a second overall pick he has been underwhelming and isn't the type of player you hope to get that high. The kicker in this draft is that there were two other stars you could build a team around that went after we picked - Damian Lillard (#6) and Andre Drummond (#9) - though how realistic selecting Drummond as high as second is debatable. That said, we could always have picked Bradley Beal second overall, who could have become a good compliment to Kemba in the backcourt. So on the one hand, we were unlucky; and on the other, one might argue we didn't draft well. The following year we sucked again, but it was a bad year to do it because the draft class was weak. We ended up with Cody Zeller, who to be perfectly honest is better suited to a role off the bench than a starting position. The further issue is that our alternatives may not have been much better, and the only one that has really shown he could offer us something we don't have right now is Nerlens Noel. I would have added Giannis Adetokoubo, but he was drafted later on. So this time we were just damn unlucky that it wasn't a deep draft class. So is it any wonder after these two years that we ditched building through the draft and went for Al Jefferson in free agency to give us a boost? Not really. By this point we had sucked for three seasons and our result was Kemba Walker, Bismack Biyombo, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, and Cody Zeller. That is hardly the type of draft haul you want to build a team around. We haven't had the luck that OKC had during their rebuild which netted them: Kevin Durant (2007 - #2), Russell Westbrook (2008 - #4), Serge Ibaka (2008 - #24), and James Harden (2009 - #3). That's three straight drafts which resulted in three all stars (albeit one hit that level in Houston) and one borderline all star. It is scary to think how good OKC could have been if they had kept hold of James Harden and promoted him to the starting line up. In fact, OKC got very lucky because Portland passed on Durant for Greg Oden... Miami and Minnesota passed on Westbrook for Michael Beasley and OJ Mayo... And Memphis passed on Harden for Hasheem Thabeet... We have NEVER been that lucky. Don't get me wrong, there is no disputing that our team has made its fair share of bad draft selections, but our most recent rebuild didn't stand a chance. The players we could have realistically drafted second and fourth overall in 2012 and 2013 were never going to be on the same level. That's the issue with rebuilding through the draft. Some teams get lucky like OKC or the Timberwolves (Andrew Wiggins, Zach Lavine, Karl Anthony-Towns etc), while others like us net "ok" players, and ultimately end up in that mid range and being mediocre. If our bad years had been 2007-2009, we may have been looking at a different team right now. But sadly we were bad from 2011-2013 and that has ultimately limited how good this team can be, and to be honest, it wouldn't surprise me to see them blow it up in the near future if we remain a .500 or sub .500 team.
Which wasn't surprising considering they have seen 4/5ths of their starting line up walk in free agency. They took Vonleh because their plan is to rebuild that roster around Lillard. In regards to giving up, we sent Henderson and Vonleh their way for a potential one year rental of Batum. One could argue they "gave up" on Vonleh thinking he couldn't step into the starting line up at PF, or play a significant role off the bench next season. If they believed he could step up and take a big step forwards, would they have traded him for a potential one year rental of Batum?
I doubt we will win anything, but the way they've built this team is to try and win now, regardless of how realistic that is. Like I said. If Al opted out, then maybe we would progress forwards with the young talent (Kemba, MKG, Vonleh, Zeller, Frank etc) and maybe tank a season to get another high draft pick (eg Skal or Simmons, though with our luck we'd lose the lottery again and end up with another MKG instead of Davis). But that didn't happen and Al opted in, so the front office made moves to get better in the hope it will help us "win now", as unlikely as that may be.
I don't think the problem was ever the talent Vonleh possesses. It was more likely down to how long it would take for him to develop into player he could be, and unfortunately, that was not on the same timeline as this team because our team is in "win now" mode. And that's without considering our head coach doesn't tend to give major minutes to the rookie/raw players. Now I suspect if we had been in a sort of rebuild mode (eg Al opted out and signed elsewhere), then we probably would have kept Vonleh and potentially given him a greater role in the team. But as things stand, they made a trade to get a player that will have a greater impact on the team now, and Batum has the ability to do more for this team's desire to "win now. Like you, I'd have kept him. But this team is going in a different direction, and time will tell if that is the right decision or not...
They don't have the assets to tempt us, or even make it worthwhile for both sides since we both want to be competitive. The one thing we could watch for is whether they follow through on what Mark Cuban said, in that if they missed out on their free agent targets, then they would tank. With Jordan going back to LA, one could argue their current roster is not good enough to get them back to the play offs, so they could end up having a fire sale to tank. At that point we may have some interest in Parsons, Matthews (if he signs/they sign him), and maybe Jefferson for the bench (?) - not saying we should trade for them, but if the price is right, then adding one of them would give us added depth.
I didn't really get into basketball until the late 1990s to early 2000s, but around that time my favourite two teams were the Orlando Magic (Tracy McGrady was awesome to watch) and the Sacramento Kings (Chris Webber and Vlad Divac were pretty dominant). My main team is the Panthers, so I've come to adopt the other teams in the area. So I'm now a Hornets fan because of that, but to be honest, I don't remember much of the Hornets' original run, and the Bobcats era was truly forgettable.
The issue I have with Kaminsky is that he's not really a good fit next to Al Jefferson. He's not athletic. He's not a rim protector, and on the whole he isn't impressive on the defensive side. The positive is he can shoot and potentially develop into a stretch-4, but unless he improves defensively, he could be a liability as a starter and ultimately become a role player off the bench. Now maybe long term we will let Al Jefferson walk away, and then pursue an athletic center to replace him, and let Kaminsky develop into that Channing Frye type player. But to be honest, if we were going after a big, I would rather have drafted Myles Turner because he could have been a better fit next to Al. Though I suppose Kaminsky is more pro ready and likely to contribute in Clifford's rotation, whereas Turner is another raw prospect like Vonleh that may have been marginalised. Overall, we need Kaminsky to become at least as good as Channing Frye. But arguably that might be a waste of a top ten pick, especially if Justice Winslow becomes a borderline star or better. Same with Turner.
Al signed after Davis and MKG's rookie seasons. So why would we not have gone for Al Jefferson in free agency? They aren't the same type of player and actually would compliment each other quite well. Davis has led the league in shot blocking these past two seasons (something we've struggled with), has been pretty prolific as a scorer, and in general has been one of the best two way players in the league. For me, having him next to Al would help both players and would give us one of the best big man duos in the league. I think Henderson in a line up with a star (Davis) and two very good players (Kemba and Al), would be a decent enough starter, and especially so if he became a more consistent 3pt shooter. All we'd need is to find a new SF and we could have acquired a steady starter in free agency, through a trade, or our own draft pick. Or we could have waited a year and made an attempt on a new free agent in free agency, and let's face it, a young star like Davis should easily be able to persuade one to come play on this team. That said, this never happened so hey ho.
Makes you wonder how good this team would be right now if we had won the lottery that year and got Davis instead of MKG. Building around Kemba, Davis, and Al would have been our big three. Instead we got MKG in our "big three". Ah well, guess there's always next time...
I can't say I am surprised because the past two seasons under Clifford he doesn't seem to have been rated as more than a role player. He went from starting 74% in his first two seasons, to starting just 21%, and that was only boosted due to injury problems last season. And likewise his minutes diminished under Clifford. In his first season he averaged 23.1 mins, that improved to 27.3 mins in his second season and he showed steady improvement. Que Clifford (and Big Al), and those minutes fell to 13.9 mins in 2013-14, and while they increased to 19.4 in 2014-15, that was arguably down to injuries and not more trust and/or desire to play him more. For me, I think it is possible that Clifford (and perhaps Cho?) don't see Biyombo as a pivotal piece going forwards, and instead see him as an impact player off the bench. Maybe they'll try and sign him to a long term deal, or try and keep him on a cheaper one to two year deal, or simply let him walk. After all, they've acquired two big men this off season in Hawes and Kaminsky. That's two more players to added to a packed front court, so I suspect someone has to make way...
I don't hate the pick per se, rather the fact that we passed on Winslow who had top five talent. He could have easily developed into an excellent SG prospect. But the guy we got will do a steady job for us and should be able to contribute from day one.
I wonder how Henderson feels not long after opting in for the 15-16 season? He could have picked anywhere he wanted to go, but chose to opt in and stay here. Then he gets traded. Be interested to see how he reacts and players in Portland.
That could certainly be a possibility. Both athletic players that should be able to play as part of a small line up. Batum also gives us a clutch 3 point shooting to spread the court. With Stephenson and Henderson gone, we're going to have to find a SG. Could be an indication we will target Hezonja (if he falls) or Booker in the draft, and perhaps if we have the cap space, Wes Matthews could be a good addition at SG.