Here’s the odd thing about the 2013 draft: The projected top-three picks in 2014 – and two of those have yet to play college basketball – might have all gone ahead of anyone who’ll be drafted this June.
Kansas recruit Andrew Wiggins, Duke recruit Jabari Parker and Oklahoma State point guard Marcus Smart are seemingly as good as anyone who will show up in Chicago this week for the annual pre-draft combine.
Wiggins and Parker are exceptionally athletic forwards. Smart is a big and explosive playmaker who can also play some shooting guard. The candidates in 2013 don’t quite stack up to that. It’s telling that Kentucky center Nerlens Noel – who doesn’t figure to be ready for training camp due to a severe knee injury – could still be the No. 1 pick in the June 27 draft.
The good news for the Charlotte Bobcats is there’s a strong possibility they will have four first-round picks between the 2013 and ’14 drafts and they could all be lottery picks (top 14).
The Bobcats will definitely have their own pick (top-five, based on their 21-61 record, second-worst last season). There’s a remote chance they could have the Portland Trail Blazers’ pick, but for that to happen the Blazers would have to end up outside the top 12 in Tuesday night’s draft lottery.
If the Bobcats don’t get Portland’s pick in June (it’s owed from the Gerald Wallace trade), then they might get it in 2014. They could also have a pick the Detroit Pistons owe them (from the Ben Gordon trade) and their own (though there’s a small chance they would have to give that up to the Chicago Bulls from the Tyrus Thomas trade).
Complicated as all that sounds, here’s the best-case scenario: Four first-round picks in the next two drafts and more than likely three of those in 2014.
Wiggins and Parker weren’t eligible to enter the 2013 draft because of the NBA rule saying a U.S. player must be at least one year removed from his high school class’s graduation. Smart, who will be a college sophomore, chose to stay in school, while others – prominently Noel, Kansas shooting guard Ben McLemore, Georgetown small forward Otto Porter and Michigan point guard Trey Burke – all chose to turn pro.
The Bobcats will have a 19.9 percent chance at the No. 1 overall pick in Tuesday night’s draft lottery. The Orlando Magic, finishing with the NBA’s worst record at 20-62, gets a 25 percent chance at the top pick.
Since only the top three picks are decided by the weighted lottery, the Bobcats can do no worse than fifth pick. The Bobcats have no second-round pick in 2013, as they owe it to the Oklahoma City Thunder (Byron Mullens trade).
The players show up in Chicago the rest of this week for physicals, interviews with front-office personnel and some physical testing. The Bobcats are still in a search to replace head coach Mike Dunlap, with additional interviews planned after the combine. While the team would like to have a coach hired in time for him to participate in pre-draft workouts, president of basketball operations Rod Higgins has said there’s no deadline for hiring a coach.
With all that in mind, here’s a look at players the Bobcats might consider with a top-five pick: