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The Delicate Dance of NBA Drafting

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How the the Hornets could finally land the superstar they’ve been looking for.

NBA: Chicago Bulls at Charlotte Hornets Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Watching the draft is like going to an art museum, in that all you think about is how much better you could do this thing everyone is paying attention to.

That, and they’re both bullshit. Bullshit, because of the sheer amount of brute subjectivity involved in a thing that plays science on TV, complete with experts and analysts and tests testing everything from upper body strength to intelligence to how quickly you can cover 34 of a basketball court. All of this data and examination for something so inherently elusive can fool the best of us. For example, every year a thoughtful Charlotte fan base expects/hopes/prays for the Hornets to draft the next studly homegrown All-Star talent, and instead what we get is a press conference in mid-to-late June with Rich Cho and some half-baked looking blob of conceptual pastel, ushered in as something close to masterpiece.

“We really feel as though ________ will be a great fit here in Charlotte due to his ability to _________ and ________. The organization couldn’t be happier.”

Well then, I guess the dynasty has begun.

In their defense, you can never really know. It’s Russian roulette, and your GM’s employment is the victim. But in defense of the casual observer, that’s the point. No one does — know much of anything, that is — which is why the whole draft thing is so totally fraught, and thoroughly stirring. Attempting to game a stock market of 18-21 year old man-children with egos and talent and a certain social carte blanche.

Charlotte has made 26 draft day selections in the history of the franchise — 12 of which were in the lottery — one of which became an All-Star.

Impressive, though more like “The size of that terrible pile up on the I-95 was impressive.”

Other than Kemba Walker, the HornCat’s draftee list is a who’s who of NBA journeyman and washouts. Perhaps the most egregious draft in Charlotte history was in 2005. With both the 5th and 13th picks in the draft, the then-Bobcats selected future world-beater fatso’s Raymond Felton and Sean May. It wasn’t a mistake simply because these two players didn’t work out (literally), it’s that even at the time the choice was made for the wrong reasons: deep NCAA run, teammates, local boys, successful at the collegiate level.

If there is an iota of semi-reliable science in the clusterf&@# of player development, it is this: Year-to-year improvement, physical measurables, age, and present-levels of skill, ability, and intangibles are vastly superior avenues for predicting NBA success than college-level production — or as we know it, the Achilles heel of the Charlotte Hornets drafting philosophy.

Frank Kaminsky, God bless him, is not the franchise, nor was he ever going to be. Bismack Biyombo and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist on the other hand — though disappointing up to this point in time — at least could’ve been. The draft should be a freaking home run derby, and the Hornets must treat it as such. Swing for the fences and don’t stop until something lands. Option B is to wade deeper and deeper in to the old, dirty hot tub of NBA no-man’s land, with all of the other nothing franchises refusing to commit in either direction. As I hope Cho and Co. realize, risk averse in the short run equals real, legitimate risk in the long. A relatively silent summer does not have to be an unimportant one. And if it is, I think we all know a few die-hards looking for a summer job.