Re: "If you could be GM of any lottery team..."

My favorite part of the EA Sports games isn't the games. Honestly, I never get the guys who camp in front of the TV for weeks on end, playing Madden by themselves. Doesn't beating the computer by 30 get old?

Instead, it's building a team--growing the Raiders into a juggernaut, or transforming the Charlotte Bobcats into contenders--that hooks me (or at least did, back when I had the time).

So of course, I'm fascinated by this very interesting post by Steve Weinman over at Taking it to the Rack. (Ok, full disclosure: Steve kindly spent the entire post answering my question: "Pick among last year's non-playoff teams and build a contender within three years.") His choice--the Bobcats, the newest team in the L, but still the only franchise never to even sniff the playoffs, let alone make a run. Not the first team most of us would pick.

But you know what? Steve's buying Charlotte stock at the right time. The Bobcats have 1) a young, talented core; 2) aren't in the West, which should continue to be awful competitive across our self-imposed three-year window; and 3) have the three offensive cogs that most good teams need to compete (Gerald "next MJ" Wallace, Jason "next MJ" Richardson, and Emeka Okafor).

However, who takes the shot at the end of the game? Wallace? Every good team needs that closer and I don't know who's it on the 'Cats. Guess Sam Vincent's got three years to figure it out.

Other nice chips include Sean May (who's been great, if injured), sweet-shooting Matt Carroll, and sweet-hair-product-using Walter Hermann.

Of course, the team's backcourt is weighted down by bricklayers Adam "Che" Morrison and Ray Felton. Steve's plan to move Morrison is a great, if fanciful, idea, but he oversells Felton, whose 39% career shooting percentage terrifies me, and who didn't really improve between his rookie and sophomore years, other than boosting his PT.

And I don't buy that Gilbert Arenas or Shawn Marion would relocate to Charlotte. (Steve, have you been to Charlotte? Place is sleepy. I'm getting tired just thinking about it.) If anything, if the Bobcats want an impact free agent, they should hope that a local college legend--maybe an aging Antawn Jamison type or even a Carlos Boozer--comes home to relive glory days.

Still, a solid selection. Which shames asking the question, I hadn't really though through who I'd choose. Also, like most bloggers, it's not as if I have any special basketball knowledge. Sure, I can pick others apart no problem. But I'm no expert on the L. The further I get away from high school basketball camp, the less I know.

So, relying on my mere fandom as a guide, the Hornets are the easy answer, the Celtics are the real easy answer, and--since Steve's removed Portland from discussion, while another commentator argued for the Hawks--I guess I'm taking...the Bucks. Almost unbelievably so. But perhaps it was fated to be.

A few caveats though. Namely, I hate half their roster.

Desmond Mason isn't worth $5M a year. Bobby Simmons also isn't worth $5M a year--which makes his $9M salary some kind of crime. Royal Ivey is cheap at $750k, but isn't anything special on D and couldn't score at the Bunny Ranch. And so on.

That said, the Bucks hook me because of one guy: Andrew Bogut. He's a more athletic, less dominant Yao Ming. What can I say--ever since Hakeem, I've loved the good-passing big man...and Bogut is downright Walton-esque at times. He's still young enough to build around and is clearly an inspirational figure--you don't see Etan Thomas penning a letter to Dwyane Wade or LeBron James, do you? Guys flock to Phoenix to play with Steve Nash. The Euros will courra to 'Kee to commiserate with their truth-talker.

(Look, I don't know if I'd like Bogut, the person. But as a young big, you could do a lot worse).

Admit it, NBA fans: The buzzworthy comments. The hairstyle. The blog fans. Mark my words, this year will be like the Takeover for Bogut. Only, it won't be, because Bogut hates dealing with the media. But if I was the GM, I'd brand the team around his cuss-worthy image. Market the heck out of his Australian connection--maybe work out a deal with Star TV to show the games overseas, if there isn't one already.

Anyway, it's not like Bogut's the only good chip for the Bucks. Their strength is currently in the backcourt, although Michael Redd is probably overpaid (sense a theme?), and so is Mo Williams. But Redd is about a solid a two-guard in the L and, as a great shooter in his prime, he shouldn't really diminish in value the next few years. Williams' performance is parabolically improving, so who knows--perhaps the Bucks get a few vintage Jason Terry years out of him. Charlie Bell seems like a total flake, but at $3M a year for a decent backup guard, he'd be a good bargaining chip if it didn't fly.

Going back up front, I like Charlie Villanueva a lot, actually. Scores over everybody, any which way. Yet clearly, a guy who needs motivation to play well so I'd start badmouthing him to sites like The Bratwurst; when he's in the crib, ego-googling, he'll be stunned by the amount of renewed draft-bashing ("#7 in '05? Over David Lee??"), TJ Ford-praise-singing ("Raps completely won that deal"), and misidentified C. Villanueva-bashing ("What an awful gopher ball to Nate McLouth--guy can't pitch a lick").

And maybe take out a billboard challenging his manhood, just to be on the safe side.

Then, there's a guy you may have heard about: Chairman Yi. The kid is taking a lot of flack. And you know what? He's not the next Nowitzki or Gasol. The guy is 22, let's not pretend otherwise. We know the Chinese athletic association is all about age-fixing. And 19 or 22, he looked real bad in summer league. If scuttlebutt has it, Yaroslav Korolev may not long set the standard for recent lottery busts.

But...what if...he's a contributor?

Is it that hard to imagine? Yao was 22 when he came over. Toni Kukoc was 25. Heck, Arvydas Sabonis was 53. All made the move--and thrived--and certainly none had the NBA-quality athleticism of Yi. He looked good against the Americans at the 2006 World's, too.

I'm holding out hope.

So: Bogut, Villanueva, Simmons, Redd, and Williams as my starting five. Gadzuric, Yi, Mason, and Bell off the bench.

Two years for that young core to gel--for Bogut's numbers to rise to 17/10. For Charlie V to emerge as a solid 18 ppg scorer. For Yi to become a more athletic Detlef Schrempf. For Mason's contract to expire and be replaced by a Marquis Daniels-type. For Redd to remain a dead-eye gunner.

Knock on wood, I like them to emerge from the 2009/2010 East. They'll just have to get by those pesky Bobcats first.

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posted by Doctor Dribbles @ 21:24,


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