Due to a series of trades made between the end of the 2009-10 regular season and the 2012 offseason, the Bobcats could potentially have up to three first-round picks in the 2014 NBA Draft. However, all of these picks are conditional, and it is still yet to be determined whether the Bobcats (well, they'll be the Hornets by then) will have any of them at the draft. Below, I'll take a look at the status of each of these picks and how their ownerships became up-for-grabs.
Pick 1: Originally belonging to Detroit Pistons:
Projected position (based on current standings): 12th overall
In the 2012 offseason, Charlotte acquired the Detroit pick along with Ben Gordon for Corey Maggette. It is protected through the top 8 in 2014, so this pick would currently transfer over to the Bobcats. If the Pistons start losing a few more games this season and the pick does not transfer to Charlotte, it would only be protected if they earned the first overall pick in 2015, and it would be unprotected in 2016.
Although the 2014 draft class looks to be historically packed with potential future stars for the top lottery picks, I'm not sure that talent would remain in the 10-13 range, where this pick would most likely end up. I would say the Bobcats are fairly likely to end up with this pick, as the Pistons look just a little too talented to end up in the bottom eight of the NBA standings. I'd set the odds at around 60% that this pick transfers to Charlotte in the upcoming offseason.
Pick 2: Originally belonging to Charlotte Bobcats:
Projected position: 16th overall
During their run to the playoffs in 2010, Charlotte traded away this pick to the Chicago Bulls along with Flip Murray and Acie Law IV for Tyrus Thomas, which, in retrospect, was not one of Rod Higgins' better moves as general manager. It is protected through the top 10 in 2014, the top 8 in 2015, and unprotected in 2016.
As far as the likelihood of this staying in Charlotte, I suppose it all depends on exactly how well you think the Bobcats will play for the rest of the season. If you think that this current stretch of relative success isn't indicative of how the rest of the season will play out for the Bobcats, and they'll fall in the standings, then this might stay in Charlotte. If you, like me, think that the lack of competition at the bottom of the Eastern Conference will keep the Bobcats in contention for a playoff spot for most of the year, then you would probably expect this pick to go over to Chicago. I'd probably say that there's about a 40% chance that the Bobcats retain the pick.
Pick 3: Originally belonging to Portland Trail Blazers:
Projected position: 28th overall
At the 2011 trade deadline, Charlotte traded Gerald Wallace in exchange for Dante Cunningham, Joel Przybilla, Sean Marks, a 2011 first-round pick (later used in the deal to trade up for Bismack Biyombo) and this pick. At least they got the draft picks. It's protected in the top 12 in both 2014 and 2015, and unprotected thereafter.
I don't much expect this pick to stay with Portland. While I doubt the Blazers are truly the third-best team in the NBA, I am also quite positive, short of a string of unexpected injuries or an unprecedented match-fixing scandal, that they will be a playoff team this season. I'll say the odds are about 90% that this pick transfers to Charlotte, and it'll likely end up around 19th-22nd overall.
So what can we expect the Bobcats to have in the upcoming draft? Unfortunately, short of a ton of ping-pong balls falling in Charlotte's favor, I don't think we can expect to be in the running for one of the current college superstars named Wiggins, Parker, or Randle. The Bobcats will likely have two first-round picks to work with, though, and though it's probably only one will be in the lottery, Rich Cho and company in the front office will probably still be able to find quality talent, especially in a draft being so touted for its depth. Michael Jordan did mention his aversion to tanking not long ago, and the team seems to be following that strategy. Thankfully, there's more than just one way to build a team, and the accumulation of assets with two first-round picks in the 2014 Draft might prove vital to the long-term success of the franchise.