The two players Id most like to see the Charlotte Bobcats select with the second pick in the NBA draft are in their practice gym Monday.
Thats Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, a 6-7 small forward out of Kentucky, in the electric blue shoes with the silver stripes. If the power goes out, Kidd-Gilchrist will be the easiest player to find.
Thank you, Kidd-Gilchrist, 18, says.
See how nice he is? If the Bobcats keep the pick, they ought to draft him not because hes nice but because his game is.
Bradley Beal, a 6-3 guard out of Florida, is my runner-up. His shoes arent distinctive but his jump shot is.
Every time Beal, who turns 19 this month, shoots, you expect the ball to go in.
Joining them are Bobcats Gerald Henderson, Bismack Biyombo and Kemba Walker, and four players who are candidates for Charlottes second-round pick.
Kidd-Gilchrist says hed love to play with Walker.
I mean a hometown kid, Kidd-Gilchrist says.
Kidd-Gilchrist is from Elizabeth, N.J., Walker from the Bronx.
Watching are Bobcats owner Michael Jordan, president of basketball operations Rod Higgins and general manager Rich Cho.
By the time Kansas forward Thomas Robinson comes to Charlotte to work out Friday, the three officials could be joined by a head coach. That the Bobcats havent scheduled any workouts until Friday might suggest they have other business.
Hiring the right coach is important. Drafting the right player is essential.
There is no obvious decision about who to take at No. 2. But somebody in this draft other than Anthony Davis, whom New Orleans will take with the first pick, will emerge.
Is it Robinson? Many fans like the 6-9 Robinson more than I do. Maybe he can get his shot against NBA big men and evolve into a power inside.
North Carolinas Harrison Barnes jumped higher than anybody else and ran the court beautifully at the pre-draft camp in Chicago. Fans of jump-shooting, aerobically correct Tar Heels undoubtedly will clamor for him. It would be easier to join them if Barnes could go to the basket.
Maybe Beal will dazzle with his scoring and passing and rebounding (in seven games last season he grabbed more than 10 rebounds)
Maybe Kidd-Gilchrist will do in the NBA what he did for the national champion Wildcats run as if he has evolved beyond fatigue and play asphyxiating defense. Maybe he'll even learn to shoot.
Somebody is going to become a star, and the Bobcats have to find him. You dont suddenly move out of last place. Thats not how it works.
You do it piece by piece. You draft talent. The talent evolves. You add more. And when you get enough, you dont have a successful team. You have a successful program.
The system works if you draft the right players.
I ask Kidd-Gilchrist what he offers.
Its just defense I think, he says. Defense and my motor.
Kidd-Gilchrist doesnt say much. Hes courteous but anxious in a group. He's in the middle of a group of reporters, photographers, cameramen and women, his body repeatedly bouncing against the padding on the wall he stands against.
On the court, I wouldnt say he is comfortable. Id say he makes opponents uncomfortable. He plays as if he can will his team to victory.
Basketball is about heart to me, says Kidd-Gilchrist, who at 232 pounds is bigger and more muscular than I expected. Heart and winning basketball games.
By the time the media are allowed past the curtains onto the practice court Monday only shooting drills remain.
Kidd-Gilchrists shot isnt nearly as pretty as his shoes. Its as if he shoots in two parts, legs and then body. From the corner he hits two jumpers, misses two and hits one. He takes five shots from the right of the free-throw line and hits them all.
Now hes at the top of the key, small forward country. He swishes three, un-swishes one and hits one more.
So you do have offense.
Youre going to see when I get here, probably, Kidd-Gilchrist says.
I hope to get the chance.