Bobcats Draft Watch: Bigs nobody is talking about, yet

Jonas Valanciunas

I know, I know, the season isn’t even over yet and already we’re looking at the draft. Maybe it’s just because I’m in draft mode with the Panthers being so lousy this past season and the NFL Draft being a little over a month away, but I’ve been researching players that the Bobcats could look toward in some of my free time, also.

The Bobcats are currently in a race for the 8th spot in the Eastern Conference, which would give the team their second-ever playoff berth.

But unlike last year — when they didn’t have a pick — they’ll have two this upcoming season: their own and New Orleans’, which they acquired in the Gerald Wallace trade.

The Hornets are currently the 6th seed in the West, and could easily move up to fourth if they play their cards right. Either way, the Bobcats are looking at a pick in the high teens or twenties from the Hornets. Their own pick, unless they miss the playoffs and hit the lottery, will likely be in the mid teens.

It’s conceivable that the Bobcats could package the two picks and change, and move up in the draft to take a special player — one that they could build around. But who, in a draft that some say is down in talent, could the Bobcats take?

Guys like Jared Sullinger, Kyrie Irving, Harrison Barnes, Perry Jones and Kemba Walker are names you’ve heard of, but it’s some of the guys that you haven’t heard of that just might be the best players in the upcoming draft.

More astute fans probably have heard of Enes Kanter, the big man from Turkey who signed with Kentucky and was ruled ineligible before the season. Kanter was one of the highest rated recruits in the nation, and probably will end up being the best player in this draft.

Although not exceptionally tall, the 6’10”, 255 lb. freshman has all the ability and tools to play in the NBA right away: he’s a tough, physical player that can handle passes inside and finish at the rim. He’d be able to help the Bobcats right away, but they’d likely have to trade up into the top 5 to get him.

Another 18-year old the Bobcats could look toward for some inside help is 6’10”, 230 lbs. Lithuanian Jonas Valanciunas. Valanciunas is a solid rebounder and shot blocker who has a decent inside game offensively, but still needs to add bulk. Unlike former first round fiasco Alexis Ajinca, Valanciunas playes solid minutes in the Euroleague and his game is often referred to as “American”. He may be available with the Bobcats’ first pick, so start watching highlights on YouTube now.

Valanciunas isn’t the only Lithuanian on this list, as center Donatas Motiejunas could be around with the Bobcats pick as well. The 7′, 220 lbs. Motiejunas lacks bulk, but is quick, athletic and is an accomplished scorer. At 20-years old, he’s a little more mature mentally than Kanter or Valanciunas. His inside scoring would be a blessing for the Bobcats, who have very little inside threats.

Rounding out the list is 6’11”, 240 lbs. Czech Jan Vesely. Vesely needs to improve his inside game, but already has a nice jumper and 3-point shooting range. For the Bobcats, he could draw defenders away from the basket, allowing for easier lanes for Gerald Henderson and Stephen Jackson to cut to the basket. Vesely could be available when the Bobcats pick in the late teens or twenties with the Hornets’ pick.