Charlotte is a championship contender.

I didn't mean today, but maybe within the foreseeable future. Yes, really.

I watch the whole league. I have no ties to Charlotte, and no favorite team, but I am an NBA junkie, so I even watch and follow losing teams like Charlotte.

This franchise that has so much promise. They just need to get lucky once, but are doing everything to position themselves for that. Don't abandon your fandom now. There's much to be excited about here.

Here's a basic analysis of where your franchise is at.

From what I see, Charlotte is in the early stages of building a foundation for long lasting success. Don't let the record fool you. This isn't a dysfunctional losing franchsie like Sacramento or Washington.

This can be seen from having a solid front office. Cho doesn't make idiotic moves, and in the NBA, not making huge mistakes with your cap and roster is very important. Most teams can't really afford more than one major roster mistake.

A timely example is the Brooklyn Nets. They have a rich owner who wants to win at any financial costs, they're in New York City, they have Jay-Z's celebrity and connections (something players love), and now they're suck with that roster for the forseeable future. How can you skillfully improve that roster? It's really hard. They are who they are.

Charlotte's roster and cap is extremely flexible. You're lucky that you're not that good, like Orlando for example. The Magic seem to have found a good young coach, and their front office made it publicly clear that they were going to go the OKC route of rebuilding (a route that isn't as easy as OKC made it look). But Orlando signs Nelson and hasn't traded JJ Redick, so they're actually winning and in danger of being as low the #10 draft pick.

OTOH, Charlotte is positioned for a top 4 pick currently. Also, the (soon to be) Pelicans & Cavs have their stars returning from injuries, meaning the Bobcats will likely have a top 2 chance of winning the lottery.

So unless you can orchestrate a trade for a young great player, like James Harden, then you need high lottery picks.

Kyrie Irving was #1 in 2011. Anthony Davis was #1 in 2012. You need these sorts of guys to become a perennial championship contending franchise (ie. currently Heat, OKC, Spurs if healthy, maybe Clippers if CP3 resigns). If you really want to build something like OKC or San Antonio did, then you need top picks to find that dominant guy. You need to be lucky in the draft, it's that simple. So you want to be one of the worst 2 or 3 teams in the league to increase your odds and pray that you win the lottery, or hope for a draft with more than one Hall of Fame prospect, or hope somehow that teams pass on a Chris Paul (he was still drafted at #3). You can't get that excited about #7 or #9 picks (ie. Bobcats picks in 2011). It's so much more rare to get a franchise builder.

YOU MUST HAVE THAT FRANCHISE PLAYER. Without that, your GM must be unrealistically flawless, your coach perfect, your players always maxing out, a perfect bench, and no injuries. That's not going to happen. Dominant stars make life so much easier. You must maximize your chances of getting one, while you can. Charlotte hasn't gotten lucky in the past 2 drafts, and you may not have another chance after this year. Once your young core starts to develop, you could end up winning 30 games/year soon, and that'll be your core. I'm not sure the 2013 draft has a Kyrie or Davis, but it may your last chance at a guy like that.

So far, the Bobcats have done as well as one could hope.

Kemba Walker has been really solid for a #9 pick. Maybe he can develop into being part of a trio of stars, but you hope that becomes something like a Serge Ibaka, Chris Bosh, or Tony Parker (not a slight, as these are great players) than he is Durant, Lebron, or Duncan (perennial MVP guys).

Biyombo was the #7 pick. He's so young and raw that it's too early to judge him, but physically it looks like he'll have a place in the league. But currently I don't think anyone is thinking of him as a foundational trio.

MKG was the #2 pick, and despite how young he is and how raw he is, he's the best young piece this team has. The Pelicans got lucky with the clear #1 pick, and Detroit got lucky with the risky Drummond pick panning out so far. But among realistic #2 picks, it's early, but MKG seems to be a great pick. He's currently my ROY, and no one seems to be talking about him. Lillard is overrated (just watch him play defense, yuck), and Drummond & Davis may be better players now, but MKG is a freak somewhat like Gerald Wallace. He has the makings of an elite wing. To me, there are three guys from the 2012 draft that can become dominant players. Davis seems like the only lock, but Drummond and MKG at least have that potential. They're both producing now, as teenagers! That's insane.

MKG clearly has foundation potential, but he's not enough (not even Lebron was enough). Under these current rules, the most seemingly obvious way to build a perennial contender, is to have three stars. You can lock those guys up to multi-year deals at $10 million or more/year. You can get those secondary stars, but dominant guys (Lebron, CP3, Dwight Howard) seem to be flocking to the sexier franchise locations (NYC, LA, Miami). The small market contenders (Thunder and Spurs) built it from the ground up.

Note to Charlotte, you're in the embryonic stages, but all signs look good so far. You can't control the lottery, but imagine getting another young MKG level talent in the 2013 draft. A smart GM isn't enough. You need a top pick (& not a crappy draft class) to get that. If you're lucky, and that guy is a big man who can dominant defensively inside, then you have the makings for a rapid growth.

OKC's win totals by year during Durant's first 3 years:

  • 2008: 20 wins (Durant's rookie year)
  • 2009: 23 wins (Westbrook and Ibaka's rookie year)
  • 2010: 50 wins (Harden's rookie year)

Charlotte's doing everything right in the early stages. Cho seems like one of the better GMs. It's early, but Dunlap seems like a decent coach. And MKG is basically a kid out of high school, producing on both ends at an above average level. Who knows how things will work out, but now is the time to invest your fandom.

After all, you will win the championship in the year ... oh wait, I don't want to spoil the surprise.

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