Three days until the Draft, and….
The Bobcats have a very interesting decision on Draft night that is about more than this pick. It could be about the selection two years ago as well.
Bismack Biyombo, the defense and rebounding specialist taken seventh in 2011 as part of a pre-arranged deal with the Kings and Bucks, has gone from 23.1 mpg and 5.8 rpg as a rookie to 27.3 mpg and 7.3 rpg last season as part of what everyone knew going in would be a long-term project for a prospect with no offense and little previous basketball experience. Charlotte believed, and the ultra-confident Biyombo did as well, that he could become a game-changer just by his work around the rim, but that would take time.
While there was an ongoing internal assessment, the June 2013 read on Biyombo is particularly relevant as the Bobcats stare at a Draft board that would take them in two directions: Use the No. 4 choice Thursday night on Alex Len of Maryland as the new starting center and a much-needed infusion of post scoring. Or, go with Anthony Bennett of UNLV for the kind of offensive boost that is necessary for a power forward playing alongside the one-dimensional Biyombo.
Len makes sense because centers are always hard to find and he is the best one on the board this year. Maybe Biyombo’s best fit is as an energizing defensive force off the bench, able to spark a team the same way other coaches typically rely on a scorer for that role.
But, Bennett makes sense because Biyombo is clearly progressing in some areas. Plus, the Bobcats hired Patrick Ewing as an assistant coach and just maybe he knows something about playing center that can help a project develop. No one expected Biyombo to be making a major impact after two seasons anyway, and his rebounding numbers are encouraging.
Bennett is also a good fit with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, the lottery pick a year ago. Kidd-Gilchrist can’t hit a jumper, so the Bobcats need someone with range. That’s Bennett. There are questions about who Bennett guards — not strong enough to handle power forwards, not quick enough to stay with small forwards — but Biyombo and MKG have the potential to become elite defenders and compensate.
Charlotte will be facing a lot of scrutiny by the end of Thursday night no matter what, just because owner Michael Jordan is the name at the top of the masthead. The potential Len-Bennett internal debate, with Indiana shooting guard Victor Oladipo worth putting in the conversation as well after his improved perimeter game last season, makes for an intriguing decision in the Bobcats’ future.