When the Charlotte Bobcats took D.J. Augustin with the ninth pick in the NBA draft, most basketball fans in and around Charlotte yawned or complained. They wanted a big guy, preferably 7-foot Brook Lopez out of Stanford. Some of us are conditioned to believe that bigger means better. Thus supersized meals. Thus SUVs.
Lopez, who went 10th to New Jersey, will be a servicable big guy. He could be good. But Augustin already has demonstrated that despite being a foot shorter than Lopez he will be special.
The rarest commodities in basketball and true and talented centers and point guards. You can always find big guards, small forwards and power forwards. And you can always find a lumbering big man. center. But if you desperately need a point guard, and have the opportunity to draft one as low as ninth, you jump.
I wrote a column before the draft advocating Augustin because of all that he offers. Raymond Felton is not a prototype point guard. He works hard but he doesn't have the skills that enable him to, say, get the ball to the wing cutting off the pick when and where the wing wants it. Felton spends a lot of time beating his man with spin moves. He'll then draw a defender to him and find the open man.
But he doesn't see the court the way a true point guard does. Playing for so many coaches with so many philosophies hasn't helped.
Augustin sees things. He exploits openings the way a tailback would and pushes to find his shot or a shot for a teammate. Against Atlanta Friday, he scored 26 points and added seven assists and turned the ball over only once. One turnover in 40 minutes is extraordinary.
Augustin has the potential to be an all-star. I'd be surprised if, in a few seasons, he isn't. He's not tall. He doesn't have to be.