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Bobcats need to go big on skills
Trade for more offense would be ideal
 
Published Wednesday, February 20, 2013 12:56 pm
by Steve Reed, The Associated Press

Nine months later the Charlotte Bobcats are still feeling the effects of losing out on a shot to select Anthony Davis in the NBA draft.

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PHOTO/CURTIS WILSON
Charlotte center Bismack Biyombo (left), like most of the Bobcats’ big men, is more adept at defense than offense.


The Bobcats again own the league’s worst record, and one of the major reasons is the lack of quality big men.


Bobcats team president of basketball operations Rod Higgins told The Associated Press that moving forward one of the team’s biggest areas of need is “finding bigs.”


It’s a necessity that could’ve been filled had the pingpong balls fallen Charlotte’s way last May in the NBA draft lottery.


Instead, the New Orleans Hornets defied the odds and landed the No. 1 overall pick and used it to select Davis, the draft’s marquis player.
While the Bobcats say they’re pleased with the development of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, the No. 2 pick, the bottom line is failing to land a franchise center has been a huge setback for an organization in dire need of a dominant force in the middle.


“You are always looking at quality big men, even if you have a few of them,” Higgins said. “You can never have enough of those. ... If you can get quality bigs you increase your ability to win at this level.”


Davis has been a quality “big” and more for the Hornets.


After missing some time with a stress fracture in his ankle early in the season, Davis has come on strong and is averaging 13.1 points, 7.6 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game, putting him in contention for rookie of the year honors.


It’s the type of production the Bobcats could certainly use from the No. 5 spot.


Brendan Haywood, Hakim Warrick and Bismack Biyombo struggled to fill the void left by starting center Byron Mullens, who finally missed 19 games with a foot injury before returning to action this week.


Warrick is averaging 7.1 points per game, Biyombo 4.4 and Haywood 4.1. And DeSagana Diop, despite making $7.37 million this season, rarely sees the court.


Higgins said the Bobcats will be “very active” as the NBA trade deadline approaches looking to upgrade at all positions — although he knows it can be extremely difficult to land a difference maker, particularly at center.


“Those guys usually aren’t available,” Higgins said.


So the Bobcats may have to look at next year’s draft or free agency to add big men.


And cruel twist is they were so close to having one.


The Bobcats suffered through the worst season in NBA history — they finished 7-59 in a lockout-shortened season — and then took a kick to the stomach when it was announced the Hornets got the No. 1 pick. When the announcement came down that the Bobcats didn’t get the pick, general manager Rich Cho was noticeably deflated on stage.


And understandably so.


The Bobcats say they’ve moved on.


“I put it out of my mind after the balls stopped tumbling and it was evident that we have to do our business without having that pick,” Higgins said. “Those kinds of things you can’t hold on to. You have to let it go because you would be doing a disservice to the organization and the players you have. You just can’t deal with the what-ifs.”


Charlotte chose Kidd-Gilchrist over Bradley Beal, Dion Waiters, Thomas Robinson and Damian Lillard.


“MKG,” as he’s called in Charlotte, has shown some promise, averaging 9.6 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game. And while his jump shot still needs some major tweaking, coach Mike Dunlap said Kidd-Gilchrist’s positive attitude has been a big plus for a developing young team.


“Along with his hustle he brings a lot of energy to the locker room, and some other intangibles,” Dunlap said.
Problem is he’s not a center.


The Bobcats are significantly more competitive than last season, but the reality is at 11-36 they aren’t going anywhere fast and it could be a few seasons before they can realistically compete for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.


That’s one of the reasons Dunlap has been playing youngsters like Kemba Walker, Biyombo, Kidd-Gilchrist and Jeffery Taylor so much — to give them needed experience down the road.


Higgins wouldn’t go as far as to say anyone on the roster was untouchable in terms of a trade, but made it clear he wants to hang on to the team’s core of young players.


“We like our young kids and it would be very difficult to part with them,” he said.


As for Dunlap, the team’s first-year head coach, Higgins said he’s doing a good job of learning on the fly. But like the team’s young players, Higgins said there is room for improvement.


“I like that he is prepared and works his tail off from day to day,” Higgins said of Dunlap. “He has to get better in certain areas and he knows that, and I’ve told him that. But the learning curve is there for him as a young NBA coach. He has a ton of experience in other areas of coaching. But right now it’s a work in progress — for him and our players.”

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