NBA: Bobcats not opposed to drafting based on potential
By Mike Cranston
CHARLOTTE ó If there was ever a team that would seem unwilling to wait for a top draft pick to develop, it’s the Charlotte Bobcats. They’re desperate for fan support and just hired a 67-year-old, well-traveled coach known for impatience and short stays.
Yet there was Larry Brown Wednesday morning, working out two young, talented ó and extremely inexperienced ó big men who could someday become stars: Anthony Randolph of LSU and Darrell Arthur of Kansas.
Both are expected to go early in the June 26 draft. Both need to add weight, develop post skills and learn on the job.
“If he’s the best player, the best prospect, I don’t think we should ever not take talent,” Brown said. “I’m not the boss, though.”
Part-owner and basketball operations chief Michael Jordan will make the final call on draft night, but Brown will play a big role. Despite Brown’s age and the pressure to make the playoffs next season for the first time, the coach insists his team won’t shy away from taking a young big man like Randolph, Arthur or DeAndre Jordan of Texas A&M, who worked out for Charlotte last week.
Brown pointed to the NBA champion Celtics to show the importance of athletic, long players. Kendrick Perkins went from a little-used project to a starter and key contributor in his fifth year in Boston. Leon Powe went from an almost-forgotten second-round pick to an important player off the Celtics’ bench in his second year in the league.
“The more young, big kids you can get with the chance to get better, the luckier you are,” Brown said. “Then it’s our job to coach them up. These big kids that we’ve had in, not only today, but last week, there are a lot of them that have a huge upside.”
And the frontline is an area of need. The Bobcats are looking to re-sign restricted free agent Emeka Okafor and get him help. The Bobcats were consistently outrebounded last season and Okafor struggles to defend stronger, more athletic centers and power forwards.
“I think that would be a great fit,” Randolph said of being paired with Okafor. “Just me down there to help takes some of the pressure off of him.”
Randolph could be gone before the Bobcats pick. Arthur is projected to still be there. Both have work to do to become effective NBA players.
Randolph is 6-foot-10, but only 205 pounds, and Brown acknowledged he’s “got to fill out a little bit” to play inside. The left-hander averaged 15.6 points and 8.5 rebounds for the Tigers as a freshman last season. He won’t turn 19 until next month.
Brown got a long look at the 20-year-old Arthur when he spent time around Kansas last season. He’s 6-9 and 225 pounds and averaged 12.8 points and 6.3 rebounds before leaving school after winning the national title as a sophomore.
“I think it would be difficult for a lot of these guys to step in right away,” Brown said. “But that being said, you don’t know. In Seattle they had to play (Kevin) Durant and (Jeff) Green right away. Their team didn’t have a lot of success, but their learning curve was sped up because they got to play.”
The question is whether the Bobcats, who are bleeding money, and Brown, known to prefer veterans, can wait for a big man to develop.
“I’m not afraid to play young kids,” Brown said. “They might have to learn on the job, but that might have to happen. You can’t teach athleticism and you can’t teach size.”
Notes: Oft-injured F Walter Sharpe of UAB was the third member of the workout. … Dave Odom, who stepped down as South Carolina coach in March, attended the session. Brown is still looking for a lead assistant coach and has said he’s talked to Odom about joining his staff. “I have talked to him. I’ve got some other priorities right now,” Brown said. “He’s a friend and a terrific coach. We’ll see.”