CHARLOTTE, N.C. — What do you want in a basketball player?
What do you look for?
What do you need most?
The Charlotte Bobcats could have invested the No. 2 pick in Thursday's NBA Draft on a shooter such as Florida guard Bradley Beal or North Carolina forward Harrison Barnes. They could have drafted a rebounder such as Kansas power forward Thomas Robinson. They could have drafted a scorer such as Syracuse guard Dion Waiters.
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Instead, the Bobcats invested the No. 2 pick on a player whose jump shot would not distinguish him in a pickup game at the YMCA.
The absence of a jump shot is the reason drafting Kentucky small forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is a gamble.
This is why the Bobcats had to gamble. Kidd-Gilchrist played as hard last season as any player in college basketball. He tried to impose his will on the opponent every time the Wildcats had the ball.
Kidd-Gilchrist goes to the basket, rebounds and plays defense. His relentless style is the quality that distinguishes him. He goes and goes and keeps on going until he gets his dunk or layup, until he gets his way.
Shooting can be learned. Michael Jordan, owner of the Charlotte Bobcats, became a much better shooter after he turned professional. Kidd-Gilchrist has further to go as a shooter than Jordan did, and I'm not comparing them as players.
But Kidd-Gilchrist has time to get there. He doesn't turn 19 until September.
How many games last season did the Bobcats allow themselves to be overwhelmed? Yes, they gave away talent nightly, and when they played a day game, they gave away talent, too.
They fought early in the season and occasionally upset superior teams. The longer the season went, the less they fought. It wasn't as if they quit. But they lacked a leader.
Kidd-Gilchrist will be that leader. Yes, he will put up jump shots that entice innocent children to hide behind their parents.
But if you watched him help push his Wildcats to the NCAA championship last season you can't fathom him allowing his team to go quietly.
In an interview with Charlotte media Thursday night, Kidd-Gilchrist was asked if he could do for the Bobcats what quarterback Cam Newton did for the Carolina Panthers.
"I'm a winner," he said by telephone from Newark, N.J., site of the draft. "I don't see why not."
Here's a possible Charlotte lineup when the season begins five months from now: Kemba Walker and Gerald Henderson at guard, Bismack Biyombo at center, Kidd-Gilchrist and perhaps Tyrus Thomas at forward.
I don't expect the Bobcats to make the playoffs next season. I don't expect them to win half their games. I don't expect them to come close to winning half their games.
But I expect to see life down there on the court. I expect to see a group of hustling young players who, some nights, will demonstrate that they can grow up to be pretty good.