I think most Charlotte Bobcat fans have come to realize that D.J. Augustin, drafted ninth overall in the 2008 draft, is not the point guard of the future for Charlotte (as he was drafted to be).
D.J.'s not a bad player. D.J. is actually almost a good player, and last season he showed some of his true promise early on in the season before injuries robbed him a fair amount of what was already a shortened season.
But D.J. is not Charlotte's point guard of the future, and it's silly to walk around the fact that the fans want, and management needs Kemba Walker to start at the point right from the get-go next season.
Augustin is a restricted free agent (RFA), and I think it's time to let him walk.
He has already (perhaps somewhat fortuitously for the Bobcats) turned down a long-term contract extension and clearly does not want to play for such a bad team. Augustin could become a valuable bench player and add depth to a contender in need of pass-first guards.
Let's compare Kemba Walker and D.J. Augustin's stats from 2011/2012 and look at the pros and cons of each player, as they both split time at the point. These statistics will all be per 36 minutes so we can compare evenly.
13.6 PPG, 7.8 APG, 0.9 SPG, 2.8 RPG, .376 FG%, .341 3P%
Keeping in mind—all of these stats are per 36 minutes—that's pretty horrible.
D.J. took a real step back last season, and whether that was because of injuries, losing talent around him or feeling the pressure of young up-and-coming Kemba Walker, it doesn't matter. As the leader of the team at point guard, D.J. should be able to post better numbers than that.
He's an excellent passer, and he can create options for others but rarely creates any for himself. It's almost as if he lacks the confidence to take shots on his own, and while I am all for a pass-first point guard, he still has to be able to put the ball in the basket, which he didn't do last year.
He's not a great defender; he's not especially great in transition; and he's simply just not a starting point guard in this league (at least not without some more talent around him). He is not the player to build around.
16.1 PPG, 5.8 APG, 1.2 SPG, 4.7 RPG, .366 FG%, .305 3-PT%
Slightly better than D.J. in most aspects, and that's taking into account they had the same group of guys to work with.
Kemba is sort of the polar opposite of D.J. in terms of confidence, and that's probably his biggest flaw as a point guard in this league right now. Confidence is great and having too much of it is a good problem, but Kemba tended to take some impossibly difficult shots from the field last season, which is why his FG percent numbers are so low.
He can create space for himself, he has great ball-handling skills, he's a better defender than D.J., and he (at least, as of now) still wants to make things work in Charlotte.
Kemba got better at passing the ball as the season went on, which I think is the biggest thing he needs to be thinking about... being the floor general, creating opportunities for everyone and taking advantage of those opportunities instead of blowing it on an impossibly long three-pointer.
The long and short of it
Augustin has become a redundancy. He's no longer needed.
Kemba has a higher ceiling than Augustin. The only way Kemba is going to get better is to get more playing time on the court and to figure out how to play the NBA point guard position, something he has a ton of potential to do.
There is a lot of debate about what kind of point guard Kemba will become, and what kind of point guard he should become.
One thing is for certain, his potential was on display during stretches of last season, and with some more talent around him, he could really become a great point guard. I'd like to see him pass more, but Kemba is wired to score.
As long as he can limit his difficult shots and still dish the ball effectively, I have no qualms with that.
Furthermore, the Bobcats have depth at guard with the addition of Ben Gordon via trade, and the potential to pick someone like John Jenkins, Jared Cunningham or Kim English in the draft at 31st. D.J. will be pursued by a team better than the Bobcats to come off the bench, and he will hope the 'Cats don't make a qualifying offer.
I think it's time to let him walk and officially hand the reins over to Kemba Walker.