For some teams, this might be a free agent. The Bobcats have rarely gotten a hyped free agent, but they have had their share of hyped rookies. From the first draft pick to the most recent, the Bobcats have been a mainstay in the lottery for the duration of the franchise. Some thought that Emeka Okafor could have ended up as the best pick in that 2004 draft, but few had the pure hype as Adam Morrison.
Morrison's scoring prowess at Gonzaga in his senior year was unmatched (though JJ Redick made a good effort) and he could do it in a variety of ways. Redick was a pure sharpshooter that killed teams with his three-ball off screens. Morrison boasted a better three-point percentage and better all-around scoring instincts. He had a terrific understanding of the game in college and could utilize contact well and knew how to take advantage of spacing. His shooting touch was a thing of beauty. Morrison's shots were at times bizarre, yet he knew what he was doing. His jump shot had a fantastic smoothness to it and he could adjust it as needed.
His weaknesses were readily known, such as his limited athleticism and poor defense. But the Bobcats weren't looking for a defensive maestro in 2007. They were in desperate need of a superstar scoring threat and Morrison looked to have the scoring instincts and understanding of the intricacies of the game to become the next big thing, or so the Bobcats thought.
Morrison's style drew comparisons to the legendary Larry Bird, though Morrison didn't have as great passing skills as Bird, nor did he have the rebounding. But Morrison was a clever, crafty-as-hell scorer with a great mindset at college.
But to their disappointment, the Bobcats drafted him third overall. General reactions to the pick were overwhelmingly positive, praising the Bobcats for drafting a quality player with the scoring skills they so needed to pair with the defensive-minded players like Gerald Wallace and Emeka Okafor.
He had the skills, he had the analyst endorsements, and he had the gimmick to make the pick a hit -- his trademark hair and mustache. The Bobcats even had a fake mustache giveaway at one point, if memory serves me correctly. If you ever make a trip through the team's offices, you can see one posted on one desk's bulletin board as a memorial, I suppose. He even had an action figure.
But Morrison was far from stellar in his rookie season. He received November's rookie of the month award, but it was all downhill from there. His shooting for the season was a poor 37.6 percent, and even in his exceptional November, he only shot 38.8 percent from the field. He just couldn't make the jump to the next level against NBA defenses due to lackluster athleticism and unfortunate shooting. And it didn't help that he got fined $25,000 for making an obscene gesture to a fan in Miami.
Morrison's struggles would never be overcome. The heavy expectations and constant pressure wore on Morrison constantly.
Then in 2007, Morrison tore his ACL during a preseason game. He was sidelined for the entirety of the season and would never be the same.
Already a limited athlete, Morrison's remaining quickness and agility were subsequently drained and his confidence was shot. The Bobcats now had their third coach in three years since Morrison's arrival, having dumped Bernie Bickerstaff in favor of Sam Vincent, who was unceremoniously canned a year later after his own poor coaching (although not a poor record) before the team hired the prolific Larry Brown.
Larry Brown, not surprisingly, did not do much to help get the young forward's confidence back up. Brown loves players who can play defense and, frankly, Morrison definitely could not play defense well, especially after his injury.
Morrison was frustrated with expectations, Brown found little use for him and the two were soon parted.
The Adam Morrison era ended abruptly in the middle of the 2008-09 season, traded with Shannon Brown in February to the Lakers in return for Vladimir Radmanovic.
The Bobcats' building process became bungled with Morrison's failure to pan out. In the following seasons, the Bobcats gave up on the process in favor of trying to win on the shoulders of Brown's coaching and a limited roster led by Gerald Wallace. Perhaps the most positive result from Morrison's time with the Bobcats was this photo.
Morrison went on to win a championship ring with a very small role on the Lakers and then fell out of the league, failing to remain in the NBA for the Wizards or the Trail Blazers, each of whom waived the former top-three pick.
Now Morrison is retired and helps at his old stomping grounds as a student assistant at Gonzaga, having returned to his studies.
But more than that, Morrison's name is little more than a joke to most basketball fans, another fallen hopeful star. What-ifs of course remain, from other possible draft selections to the possibilities if Morrison hadn't suffered such a disastrous knee injury. Unfortunately, these things are nothing but mental exercises that have been relentlessly retread by Bobcats fans.
Morrison's career has thus become one on the short list of go-to names of draft busts. He looked funny, performed poorly and was drafted on high expectations. But now it is as if nuance and hindsight are treated as common knowledge everyone had already known before the draft. Everyone apparently knew he wouldn't turn out to be a great player. A person in the Bobcats front office had to assert that Michael Jordan didn't make the Morrison pick despite analysts eagerly praising the pick on draft night for Jordan avoiding the 'potential' of other players and choosing the developed player in Morrison.
What was once considered a great situation for Morrison and a great talent for the Bobcats is little more than e-dust.
Memories are short and jokes are easy.
And so it goes.