Commentary

Should Hornets pick Anthony Davis?

Michael Jordan should be out, selling alternative to Anthony Davis

Updated: June 2, 2012, 7:25 PM ET
By Scoop Jackson | ESPN.com

Charlotte Bobcats GM Rich Cho sent out a message not long after his team lost the chance to nab Anthony Davis with the No. 1 pick in next month's NBA draft.

"The last time we picked No. 2 we got Durant," he said.

Gotta love optimism.

But this time, the No. 2 pick isn't going to help his squad the way Kevin Durant did in 2007 when Cho was assistant GM of the Sonics. Unless Cho's boss, Bobcats owner Michael Jordan, can convince the New Orleans Hornets that Davis is not the answer to their drama.

[+] EnlargeMichael Kidd-Gilchrist
Chris Steppig/NCAA Photos/US PresswireMichael Kidd-Gilchrist should be an instant threat.

And with the first pick of the 2012 NBA draft, the New Orleans Hornets select … Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.

Like that's really going to happen. We all know the chances of hearing those words come out of David Stern's mouth are as likely as the chances were of hearing RG3's name come out of Roger Goodell's mouth after "Indianapolis Colts" a month ago.

But as crazy as it sounds, for the Hornets, Kidd-Gilchrist is the right pick.

There's a gaunt line between a need and a want. Missing in all of the post-lottery uproar of league conspiracies concerning the top of the draft order is that teams are sometimes forced to choose between the two.

Often, especially when it comes to professional sports, the line that divides what a team needs and what it wants blurs when the draft order is set. It often gets further indistinguishable when everyone is saying there's one player who can and will change the entire direction of a franchise. In some cases save it.

This year that player is Davis, the NBA's can't-miss version of Andrew Luck. But the Hornets don't need him. He's a want, a desire.

The Bobcats, on the other hand, and with almost desperate severity, need Davis. Not because they finished with the worst winning percentage in NBA history, but simply because no other player in the draft balances their roster like he would. No other player in the draft comes close to completing them.

Charlotte already has three players who can legitimately score at three different positions: D.J. Augustin at the point, Gerald Henderson at small forward and Kemba Walker off the bench. They don't need a Kidd-Gilchrist or a Bradley Beal or a Harrison Barnes (or even a Thomas Robinson or a Jared Sullinger, who could help them at the power forward spot). The Bobcats' problem -- well, there are many, but for the sake of this column we'll just focus on one or two -- is that they can't stop other teams from scoring. Plus, they don't have one player who can make it difficult for opponents to score.

[+] EnlargeAnthony Davis
Streeter Lecka/Getty ImagesAnthony Davis broke the NCAA freshman block record.

The Bobcats allowed 100.9 points per game, 27th in the league (the Hornets' D finished eighth). Davis would change that for Charlotte. Immediately. No disrespect, but an upgrade from Bismack Biyombo in the middle is urgently necessary.

With three centers and a 7-foot starting power forward (Jason Smith), the Hornets don't lack at Davis' position. If they draft Davis, they'll have to make some deals or begin cutting players to make room.

If I'm Michael Jordan, this is what I'm selling. Not getting the No. 1 pick wouldn't bother me as much as not getting a shot at getting Anthony Davis. If I'm Michael Jordan, I'm on the phone right now trying to make a deal. I'm in Rick Warren mode, I'm preaching. If I'm New Orleans -- and if it's the gospel Jordan is speaking -- I'm listening.

Because contrary to what everyone else is saying, Davis is not the Hornets' answer, not in the way a player like MKG would be. If the Hornets are serious about building a team that will make the playoffs in the near future, they need offense now at a position where they don't have anyone to score. They need explosiveness, not a defensive presence who is going to need time to find himself offensively. They need a player who in the next few years might be the next Paul Pierce, not someone who before his career is over could the the next Tim Duncan.

That's going to be a hard, almost impossible sell with all the hyping of Davis' uniqueness and upside. Even for a team with a roster full of players at his position, what Davis brings may be worth clearing a table already set.

Jordan needs to go deep, take the Hornets through his own personal history. Remind them of what happened in 1984 when a team with a higher pick (Portland) chose another great big man from Kentucky (Sam Bowie) and passed on a special shooting guard. (And then Jordan can have Cho follow that up and remind them about the Greg Oden-Durant outcome.) Jordan needs to remind the Hornets that only twice since he won his first NBA championship ring have there been teams (2004 Detroit Pistons and 2008 Boston Celtics) that won NBA championships without a player on the roster averaging 20 points.

He needs to then fly to New Orleans, show them the six rings he collected and enlighten them how he did that without having a "can't-miss" center on any one of those teams.

So before you dismiss this and never read another one of my columns, remember that crazier things have happened. In 1993, the Orlando Magic traded the No. 1 overall pick, Chris Webber, to the Golden State Warriors for the No. 3 pick, Penny Hardaway, and three future first-round picks.

It comes down to how desperate/serious the Bobcats are in pursuing a dream. Does Jordan have enough Bishop Juan skill as an owner to persuade Hornets owner Tom Benson that Davis is not in his team's best interest? Can the Hornets be persuaded to believe that MKG's career could at some point during the length of his rookie contract begin to replicate the original AD: Adrian Dantley?

The Bobcats' need has to supersede the Hornets' want.

There's a saying in the NBA when it comes to the draft: Always take the best player available. That player might not be Anthony Davis. But it's going to take the best "game" Michael Jordan ever played to convince the Hornets of that.

Scoop Jackson | email

ESPN.com columnist