The Charlotte Bobcats didn’t engage in many pre-draft workouts this spring, which left plenty of time for the front office to work the phones.
According to general manager Rich Cho, they could potentially trade up from the No. 4 overall pick in the NBA draft, trade back from No. 4, exchange the pick for multiple picks or just execute the pick around 8 p.m.
“There are definitely possibilities,” added president of basketball operation Rod Higgins. “We’re always talking to everybody in the league.”
The most likely scenario seems that they would stay at the No. 4 spot and take one of seven players: Nevada-Las Vegas forward Anthony Bennett, Maryland center Alex Len. Kansas shooting guard Ben McLemore, Kentucky big man Nerlens Noel, Indiana guard Victor Oladipo, Georgetown forward Otto Porter, Jr., or Indiana forward Cody Zeller.
With Cleveland, Orlando and Washington picking ahead of the Bobcats – in that order – at least three of the above players would be available when Charlotte picks.
The consensus around the NBA is there’s no big difference between any of those seven. Cho concurred.
“There’s not a standout guy like last year,” with Kentucky’s Anthony Davis going first, Cho said.
Cho reiterated at a media briefing Wednesday that the Bobcats should draft the best player, rather than concern themselves with who is already on the roster. It went unsaid that after going 28-120 the past two seasons, no one on this roster is irreplaceable.
Asked about this team’s needs, Higgins said, “Our core is young. Our defense has got to get better. Perimeter shooting has to get better.”
Added Cho, “Shooting, rebounding and we need to add depth.”
As far as these seven candidates, Noel, Len and Zeller could address the rebounding concern. McLemore and Bennett would be the best offensive threats. Oladipo is considered an elite defender. And Porter is probably the most complete player of the bunch.
The Bobcats got to work out only one of them. Zeller came in about a week ago, along with several lesser talents, mostly from area colleges. Noel, Bennett and Len couldn’t work out due to recent surgeries. Porter passed because his agent, David Falk, doesn’t see Porter lasting past No. 3.
McLemore and Oladipo didn’t come to Charlotte, apparently because they would only agree to audition individually.
“Our philosophy is if you’re going to work out for us, you’ll work out against other players,” Cho said. “Some guys wanted to do one-on-zero workouts. Our philosophy is we want to see guys compete, not just shoot jumpers.”
The Bobcats interviewed all of these players, either in Charlotte or at the draft combine in Chicago. Cho didn’t seem concerned that lack of workouts would hinder their draft preparation.
“If there’s more information, you’d love to have it,” Cho said, “but we had our scouts out (at games) all year.”
The Bobcats have only one pick this year because their second-round pick (32nd overall) went to the Oklahoma City Thunder to complete the Byron Mullens trade. But Cho and Higgins both said they were exploring options to add another pick, either later in the first round or in the second.