We featured the Charlotte Bobcats toward the end of the regular season in a series about the league’s non-playoff teams. When I started researching the piece I looked around the blogosphere for some opinions from Bobcats fans and came across the excellent Queen City Hoops. I was familiar with the Brett Hainline’s Bobcats blog, and I decided to ask him for some analysis on a few players, rotations, and roster moves I wasn’t well versed about. He was all too happy to respond with several pages of insightful analysis on everything I asked – and he had it for me within just a few hours.
I ended up using several large block quotes from Mr. Hainline in that Bobcats article, and so when we were looking for bloggers who cover individual teams for our Scribes of the NBA Interview Series he was an obvious choice. True to form, Brett was again happy to lend his insight and knowledge about these Bobcats. ETB sent him ten questions, and Brett responded with ten answers covering the villainous Alonzo Mourning, the enigma that is Raymond Felton, the disappointment that is Adam Morrison, the logic of a Gerald Wallace-for-Andrei Kirilenko swap, the future of Jared Dudley, reaction to the Bobcats’ draft, and much more.
Empty the Bench: A lot of people on the outside looking in are confused by the Raymond Felton conundrum. Could he be a point guard? Is he an NBA shooting guard? Is he a potential franchise cornerstone?
Brett Hainline: Raymond Felton – as currently constructed – is a point guard. Or he needs to be anyway. He is never going to be a Jason Kidd, pass-first-second-and-last kind of guy. But he just is not good enough of a scorer to be played at the 2. He is not a great shooter or finisher, but he can get by his man and get to the rim – where he is and should be looking to dish to his teammates.
ETB: As a Bobcats fan you’ve seen your share of poor draft picks and personnel moves. What specific moves or move has hurt this franchise the most?
Hainline: Adam Morrison. And I don’t think it is close. Brandon Roy or Rudy Gay could have been in Charlotte – and either almost certainly would have been enough to push the Cats into the 8th spot this year. Can Morrison contribute at the NBA level? Maybe – but never at the level expected from someone drafted where he was – and he’ll never have a season like the ones already put up by both Gay and Roy.
If the Bobcats lose Emeka for pennies on the dollar (or for nothing at all, if he takes the qualifying offer then walks next year) – well, then Adam would have some competition. [Ed. Okafor signed a a six-year, $72 million contract just after this interview]
ETB: You’re the Bobcats GM. Who is on the block, who is untouchable and who are you targeting in trades?
Hainline: This team has no untouchables – the only reason MJ called J-Rich untouchable recently is because there is no one who would take on his contract. And I think J-Rich is a good player, though overpaid. Gerald Wallace may actually be underpaid – but he is also a walking infirmary and I would like to see that be someone else’s issue. While most may not agree, I would love to see Utah and the Bobcats swap AK-47 for Crash: Similar players, but we could play AK at the 4, where he fits better, and Crash could actually man the 3 for Utah, instead of Andrei playing out of position.
The undersized David Stern and Muggsy Bogues after the jump…
Charlotte Bobcats Photo Credit: Icon SMI
ETB: What is the sentiment in Charlotte regarding David Stern? Are you guys cool now, or does he need to go?
Hainline: I can only speak for myself and say that I am indifferent to Stern – I certainly do not blame him for the Hornets leaving and I appreciate that another franchise was given to us so quickly. For the way he allowed the Sonics to be taken from Seattle and the on-going Donaghy mess, I would say his time might be up.
ETB: Jared Dudley came on strong as the season went along and posted a few big games. What can we expect from him going forward? Is this a future starter, a big piece of the puzzle?
Hainline: He is a future starter – as long as he is going to be the fourth or fifth guy on the court. Jared is a solid, smart basketball player – he knows what the team needs and he did his best to fill that role as a hustle player with an emphasis on rebounding. Though I was unsure of the comparisons around the draft, watching him play last season led me to accept the similarity with Shane Battier – though not the defender Shane is, Jared is the type of player winning teams need. A glue guy who can score effectively without requiring plays run for him.
Hainline: I was very surprised by the Augustin pick – the team is big-needy and Brook Lopez would have seemed to be the safe pick. While I was impressed by DJ’s play in Vegas, I still have reservations about how much value a 5-11 point guard can offer in the NBA – there just are not that many of them.
And if I was surprised by the Augustin pick, I was shocked by the Ajinca pick, though I had heard the rumors. Who is he? A rail-thin, super long kid – who is a few years from being ready to play in the NBA based on his summer league exploits and the numbers he put up last year in some French league. When I went looking for more info on him, I was not thrilled to find that most of it was only available in languages other than English – he is not coming from high level league, and the Bobcats invested a first round pick in him? Charlotte (the city) is ready to start winning, but the Bobcats did not seem to have a draft that brought them much closer.
ETB: You’ve been blogging about the Bobcats in Vegas this summer. Give us a mini-recap, what are you seeing in the youngsters? Any players from the opposing teams opening your eyes?
Hainline: Aside from flashes of Augustin and Jermareo Davidson to a degree, there was little to compliment for the Bobcats in Vegas. With so few open roster spots, most of the players had no chance of making the squad anyway – though I will cheer for Marcus Slaughter because of his awesome name.
ETB: Let’s turn the clock back a few years. Who was your absolute favorite Charlotte Hornet and what was your favorite Hornets team?
Hainline: Muggsy Bogues. As a kid, it was tough to pass up cheering for someone who was almost my size (height-wise anyway). My favorite Hornet team was actually the second to last one in Charlotte, the 2000-01 squad. It was mainly for the one series they won in the playoffs – there was nothing I enjoyed more than watching Baron Davis and Jamal Mashburn knock the Heat, led by the villainous Zo, out of the playoffs.
ETB: We’re trying to get a lot of opinions on this: Who is the most underrated player in the NBA today? Feel free to mention any others that come to mind.
Hainline: Kevin Martin – I know he is starting to be recognized, but I do not think people realize just how good of a scorer he is. His true shooting percentage was 61.8% this year, 16th among qualifying players in the NBA. For the most part, the players above him were bigs, role players, or Steve Nash (who is phenomenal, offensively, but with 2 MVP’s, I will not call him underrated). Martin chipped in 23.7 points per game this year on 15 attempts per game – Kobe got his 28.3 on 20.6 attempts. Sticking with his accumulated stats, Martin would have scored 32.5 given that many opportunities – I know there are a lot of assumptions in there, but for a high volume scorer, Martin is remarkable for the efficiency with which he gets his.
ETB: A lot can change between now and opening day, but if you had to pick the 2008-09 NBA Champ right now, who would it be and why?
Hainline: Boston – if they stay healthy, they are too good to pick against. Defense wins championships – and they were an elite squad at exactly that, which should not change during the off-season. The next two best teams were Detroit and the Lakers – Detroit couldn’t beat the Celtics and the Lakers got destroyed when they had their opportunity. As much as I would like to make waves and pick some dark horse, I am too much of a numbers guy to pick anyone but who I see as the favorite.
Recommended Reading at Queen City Hoops:
More ETB’s Scribes of the NBA Interview Series:
– J.E. Skeets of Yahoo!’s Ball Don’t Lie
– David Friedman of 20 Second Timeout
– Ron Hitley of Hornets 24/7
– Ryne “Odenized” Nelson of SLAMonline
– Tom Ziller of Sactown Royalty and FanHouse
– Brett Hainline of Queen City Hoops
– Dave Deckard of Blazer’s Edge
– Kurt of Forum Blue and Gold
– Brian Powell of Awful Announcing
– Lee Grammier of The Dream Shake
– Jason McIntyre of The Big Lead
– Scott Carefoot of Raptor Blog
– Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, Part 1
– Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, Part 2
– Matt Watson of AOL FanHouse and Detroit Bad Boys
– Natalie Sitto of Need4Sheed.com