Over the next month or so, I will be a writing a series of articles exploring the depth charts of NBA teams, and more specifically, where the rookies from the 2011 draft fit into those depth charts. Thanks to MTD for the idea.
The Charlotte Bobcats have gone through a massive roster overhaul over the past year. The first step was firing head coach Larry Brown and replacing him with Paul Silas. The second step was trading away their two most talented (and oldest) players Gerald Wallace and Stephen Jackson. The latest step in the rebuilding process was to add youth in the form of two lottery picks in the 2011 NBA Draft.
#7 - Bismack Biyombo
- Position: Forward/Center
- Measurables: 6'10" 245 lbs 2010-2011
- Statistics: 6.4 ppg, 56.1 fg%, 55.3 ft%, 5.1 rpg, 2.3 bpg, 17 mpg
Charlotte was in desperate need of some young talent in their frontcourt. Rather than wait around and see who would have fallen to them, the Bobcats took the initiative and swung a deal that allowed them to add the number seven pick to go along with the tenth pick they received in the draft lottery. They then used that pick on Bismack Biyombo, the athletic big man from the Congo.
Biyombo is a physical freak with a 7'6" wingspan and a 9'3" standing reach despite being just under 6'10" tall. He's also an athletic marvel who posted the first triple-double in the history of the Nike Hoops Summit playing against the best young talent the United States has to offer.
- Boris Diaw is the veteran starter at power forward. He's in the last year of his deal, however, and whether it's via an in-season trade or free agency this will be his final season in Charlotte.
- Tyrus Thomas is a former lottery pick with loads of talent who for various reasons has not been able to put it together yet.
- D.J. White is a young back-up forward that brings toughness and an inside presence to the squad, and could be Biyombo's biggest competition.
- Dante Cunningham has been given a qualifying offer and will most likely retun as a hustle player off the bench.
- Kwame Brown is a free agent, and despite his reputation as a bust he could receive some interest from contenders as a back-up. There's still a good chance he will return to Charlotte on a short-term contract and if that happens he owns that starting spot.
- Joel Przybilla has been hit hard by injuries during the last few years and if he plays at all this year it won't be for the Bobcats.
Biyombo's place in the rotation: Biyombo has a lot of work to do to become the player he can be - both to his body and to his game. His best position in the NBA is center, but he still needs to add some weight to his frame if he wants to be able to hold his own against the bigger pivots in the league. His height, however, isn't as much of an issue as some may think as he has orangutan arms and therefore a longer reach than guys two, three, four inches taller than himself. Calling him raw offensively is a bit kind at this point, as his offense is mostly limited to dunks and put-backs.
All that being said, the best way for Biyombo to adjust and improve is to go out there and play. Gain some experience. Show in a NBA setting what he can do and what he needs to work on. Silas was a big man himself in his playing days (and a darn good one), and he'll find a way to get his rookie the playing time he needs to develop.
Biyombo will likely start out as the back-up center behind a re-signed Kwame Brown. In that role he won't necessarily have to play against all-star bigs as often and will have a better chance of staying out of foul trouble and on the court. Spot minutes at the four is a strong possibility as well, especially if Tyrus Thomas fails to stay healthy.
Expectation: If Biyombo is able to play without fouling too much he should see plenty of court time. He won't score enough to grab the national media's attention, but his defense, rebounding, and all-around tenacity should make a significant impact on his team. 4-6 ppg, 5-7 rpg, and 1-2 bpg in 20-22 mpg.
Note: This is assuming Biyombo is able to work out his contract issues. If he is not cleared to play with Charlotte this year, forget everything you just read and I'll do it again next year.
#9 - Kemba Walker
- Position: Guard
- Measurables: 6'1" 184 lbs 2010-2011
- Statistics: 23.5 ppg, 42.8 fg%, 33.0 3fg%, 81.9 ft%, 5.4 rpg, 4.5 apg, 1.9 spg, 36.7 mpg
Having addressed the froncourt with their first lottery pick, Charlotte used their second one to add some much-needed scoring to their backcourt. Kemba Walker was incredibly productive while leading his UConn squad to the NCAA championship this past season, and the Bobcats are hoping he will be able replicate that feat in Charlotte at some point down the road.
- D.J. Augustin is a former lottery pick who became the full-time starter for Charlotte this past season after Raymond Felton departed in free agency. He'll likely return in that same role this season, but the drafting of Walker signals the end of Augustin's time in North Carolina.
- With Stephen Jackson gone, Henderson is all but assured of the starting shooting guard spot and thirty-plus minutes per game.
- Garrett Temple is a combo-guard that finished the season with the team after a couple of ten-day contracts. He signed with an Italian team and won't play in the NBA this year.
- The team is stuck with Matt Carroll for one more year before his contract is up, but he's not a threat to Walker's playing time.
Walker's place on the roster: Kemba's role as a rookie very well could mirror what J.J. Barea did for the Dallas Mavericks during their championship playoff run. D.J. Augustin has the edge in experience and is also one of the only players on the team who can stroke it from downtown, two qualities that mean the starting spot is his to start the season. Like Barea did for Dallas, Walker will provide an infusion of energy and quickness off the bench.
The two diminutive guards will likely split the point minutes fairly evenly unless one far out-plays the other. Paul Silas has even mentioned the possibility of implementing a zone defense into the team's regular gameplan, which could allow him to get Augustin and Walker on the court at the same time. That would mean more game experience for the rookie and less playing time for Matt Carroll, killing two birds with one stone.
Expectation: Offensively inept is a phrase that could easily be applied to this Bobcat squad, so Walker will be given the green light to shoot. He'll certainly hang some points on the board, although the points will likely come with a low field goal percentage. He should be the favorite for MVP of the Rookie All-Star team. 11-13 ppg, 2-4 apg, and 1-3 rpg in 24-26 mpg.