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Rufus on Fire 2012 Draft Roundtable

1. Assuming the Bobcats are sticking with the No. 2 pick, who should they pick?

Connor: Thomas Robinson. He's the second most "sure" player in this draft, with a translatable, insanely high rebounding rate and enough athleticism to become an elite defensive player. There's some question as to how he would fit next to Biyombo, but I'm confident enough that Biyombo can add enough strength to play center. The two could form an elite defensive and rebounding front court in the years to come (while average offensively), a highly valuable team attribute in today's NBA.

David: It seems to be between Bradley Beal, Andre Drummond,, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Thomas Robinson. The safest pick out of those is Robinson. He was a rebounding machine last year in college and that is typically a skill that translates to the next level. There will be plenty of rebounds to go around in Charlotte and the Bobcats were second to last in the league on the boards. They've been horrible rebounding the ball pretty much forever and certainly since the only playoff run. Robinson's height concerns me a little bit, if he doesn't actually measure out to 6'10". But, he plays big and dominated the boards pretty much every game last year. His rebound per 40 minutes over his college career sit at over 14. I like Robinson, but the belief is he's closer to his ceiling than any of the other three. I'll get to Drummond when we talk about which players scare me, I don't like him for the second pick. Beal is interesting because the only thing the Bobcats need more than rebounding is scoring. Or they need scoring more than rebounding, one of the two. Beal says he didn't even shoot that well last year at Florida and he filled it up to the tune of 15 points a game, shooting 46%. It seems every dedicated college observer loves the kid and if the Bobcats believe in his shooting they should grab him, they need scorers but putting him in an already small backcourt is a concern. And what do you do with Gerald Henderson who the team still seems to want to groom into a starting two. Whether or not he gets there is tough to say. But drafting Beal would seem to indicate there would have to be a move somewhere. I'd take Kidd-Gilchrist. The concerns about his shot and his ability to score from the perimeter are real. But MKG was the guy not named Anthony Davis you wanted to watch on Kentucky last year. The popular label is Gerald Wallace 2.0 and while that probably should be a compliment it doesn't feel like it's being applied that way. MKG seems to be way ahead of where Wallace was when he entered the league in Sacramento. If none of these guys are supposedly franchise changers (and that's probably not true because someone outside of Davis you would think will shape a franchise eventually) and you want to get a safe pick then the choice is between Robinson and MKG. I think MKG has more upside, and is the better basketball player, I'd take him.

Ben: I've been flip-flopping between Bradley Beal and Thomas Robinson repeatedly, but I think Robinson probably has to be the pick here. The prospects here are all pretty solid, but Robinson looks to be the most surefire impact player. He's quick, strong, bouncy, has solid rebounding fundamentals, decent footwork and an indomitable motor. He's not a completely polished player, but he has the tools to get on the floor day one and get a double-double. I am well aware of the concerns: lack of a go-to post move, subpar jump shot. While those are somewhat worrisome, I don't think they're too make or break, nor are they set in stone. Blake Griffin's managed somehow, has he not?

2. Would you be in favor of trading down?

Connor: I wouldn't be against trading down for the 6th and 11th pick in a trade with the Blazers, especially given the Bobcats' wide variety of needs. My one trepidation would be the lack of players of Robinson's caliber in the 6-11 range, but if the Bobcats took, say, Harrison Barnes and Tyler Zeller, I'd be fairly optimistic about the team's chances of improvement.

David: Yes! If the Bobcats can somehow figure out how to get another lottery pick, giving them two, then they should do it. Even if they drop down and get another player in a trade they should consider it if the player, contract and fit are all in line with what this team wants to do. There are so many variables to consider that they have to improve their position with more players if they're going to give up that second pick. Right now they have their pick of the litter with Davis off the board. That's a powerful position, even in this draft and should be valued as such.

Ben: I'm certainly not opposed to it. I feel like the talent available at 2 could be very similar to the talent just two spots later. And for all we know, the guy the Bobcats like at 2 could still be around at 4, considering the needs of the Cavaliers and Wizards. The dropoff is a much less risky move and the Bobcats could pick up a late first rounder or something else of value. I wouldn't be mad at it ... I think.

3. What players do you like?

Connor: I like Anthony Davis (a single tear falls), Robinson, Bradley Beal, Barnes (in terms of being a decent starter), Zeller, John Henson, Kendall Marshall, Quincy Miller, and Evan Fournier, among others. But I don't pretend to feel overwhelming confidence when it comes to pre-draft analysis.

David: All the players the Bobcats would be looking at for the second pick are players I'm looking forward to watching next year. Even Drummond. Past those the only guy a can see sneaking into their sights is maybe Harrison Barnes. No player was as hyper examined as Barnes last year and his sophomore year wasn't as successful as was projected. But this is still the same guy who put a team on his back as a freshman, and almost got them to the Final Four. So much of his success was tied to Kendal Marshall. I'm probably higher on Barnes than most, but he's still a gamble (who isn't) for some of these teams picking up high. Cleveland supposedly loves him at four, but who knows how the next few weeks will play out. I'm not saying Charlotte should grab Barnes at two, but with comparisons ranging from Calbert Cheaney to Paul Pierce, he will be one to watch. He can score. Can he improve his ball handling, his offense off the dribble, and create his own shot? I'd gamble yes, because he's a worker. I think he'll be able to score in the NBA. If the Bobcats happen to trade down and land in that 4-7 pick area it will be interesting to see if they might make that move.

Ben: Outside of Davis and Robinson, I'm also a fan of Bradley Beal, Harrison Barnes and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Beal's an exciting scoring talent and his nickname could be BB Gun! Wheeeeee! The internet hasn't sold me on the Harrison Barnes will bust campaign. He has good range, nice scoring instincts and is more athletic than people give him credit for. There's room to improve, but I think he'll turn out fine. And how can you not be a fan of MKG? He has his flaws, sure, but he's a scary-good defensive player and the things he's endured through his life and the will he has? Love it.

4. What players scare you?

Connor: Andre Drummond, Perry Jones III, Dion Waiters (if he's in the lottery), and Austin Rivers all worry me in terms of where they'll be drafted.

David: Drummond. Drummond scares the hell out of me. If the Bobcats want to roll the dice in a major way they will pick him with the second choice. He probably has the most upside of any of these picks, he's huge. But he didn't exactly dominate the college basketball world, or even Connecticut last season. I know that team had a lot going on but his no-show in the NCAA tournament was enough to frighten me. And you're right, that's not fair. It's one game regardless of when it was played. But Drummond has questions, and in the Bobcats position it would be a huge gamble. He may dazzle at individual workouts and honestly someone is going to pull the trigger on him, we just don't know how soon.

Ben: Andre. Drummond. No explanation needed.

5. Final word: anything you'd like to add about this draft or offseason?

Connor: I trust Rich Cho to make solid moves that make the team better. He's a smart GM with a clear vision, so I'm fairly certain the Bobcats will be in a significantly better position post-draft than they are now, whether that means the selection of one or multiple draft picks and/or the signing of quality young players.

David: Losing out on the number one overall pick was a massive gut punch to Charlotte. And what makes it worse is that it's really tough to hate Anthony Davis especially when he came out and said there was some disappointment he won't be playing for the Bobcats. But now there is a great opportunity for this team to make itself better. The Bobcats have hired Rich Cho to make these type of tough decisions and they need to let him do that. If he can swing a trade for multiple parts, and they don't like anyone at two, then make it happen. If they have their guy then take him.

Ben: This is undoubtedly an important draft for the Bobcats. I think Rich Cho's a very smart guy and I would be very surprised if he goofed this week. The Bobcats now have more cap flexibility as well, so look out for free agency coming up for them to try to get some more strong young players. Or not! Or the world is ending and the Bobcats will be sent to the seventh layer of Hell and oh god what have I done I've wasted my life!