NBA Eastern Conference Preview: 15. Charlotte Bobcats
The Charlotte Bobcats are coming off a season where they took the term "bad basketball team" to previously unseen lows. Their 7-59 record set a new mark for futility in the NBA with a .106 winning percentage.
The only thing that kept them from overtaking the 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers for the outright title of the worst team in league history was the lockout-shortened season. Thank goodness for loopholes.
The good news for the Bobcats and their fans is that things cannot get any worse. The bad news, however, is this year’s version of the ‘Cats will start the season with only a marginal increase in talent. The glaring holes throughout their lineup that led to such a dismal season only a year ago are still there.
2011-12 Record: 7-59
Key Additions: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Ben Gordon, Ramon Sessions, Brendan Haywood
Key Departures: Corey Maggette, D.J Augustin, Michael Jordan as a basketball decision-maker.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist was chosen second overall by the Bobcats this past June, and has been given the unenviable task of changing the culture in Charlotte. We've heard about coaches changing the culture and star players doing the same.
Now an 18-year-old rookie, who is roughly 14 months removed from his high school prom, has been tapped on the shoulder to do it as well. Somehow, I don’t see it going that smoothly.
The reality is that MKG is still very much a work in progress, and he should be given adequate time to improve the weaknesses in his game, including his handle, jumper and physical strength. Yes, he will play right away and I have no doubt that he’ll make positive contributions as the season goes on. But this is a dire situation that will require much more than a single player to turn it around, especially one that is as raw as Kidd-Gilchrist.
Ben Gordon was acquired in a trade with Detroit for Corey Maggette, which is as fair of a deal that you’ll find in the NBA considering they’re both volume shooters who are on the backside of their careers.
Gordon will shoot, shoot and then shoot some more, but he won’t do much else. Brendan Haywood was picked up off the amnesty scrap heap after being cut loose by the Dallas Mavericks, so who knows what kind of physical and mental shape he shows up with in training camp?
If I were compiling a list of players who would completely check out after landing with a lowly team like the Bobcats, Haywood would rank pretty high. Freshly inked Ramon Sessions will fill the void left by DJ Augustin at point guard. Sessions assumes the role of being one of the worst starting point guards in the league.
Besides those new faces, it will be much of the same decrepit roster that they rolled out last season. Kemba Walker and Bismack Biyombo—lottery picks from 2011—are still trying to gain traction in the league, and show they can be counted on for a consistent effort nightly.
Gerald Henderson will continue being the least impressive leading scorer in the Association. After that, who else plays for the Bobcats again? It goes without saying that new coach Mike Dunlap will have it tough trying to pull this team out of the league’s basement.
The other piece of noteworthy news surrounding Charlotte is that Michael Jordan has announced he is stepping away from basketball personnel decisions and will focus more on the business side of his ownership position.
For Bobcats supporters, this news comes as a blessing. It’s hard to believe that a man, who so regularly dominated his opposition, could be so inept in the front office. But it’s absolutely true. Jordan has enough bad moves on his resume to fill up a blog post of his own. Bobcats fans should take comfort in the fact that he’s reportedly no longer steering this ship. General manager Rich Cho will now take over the reins and begin trying to get this franchise back on track.
All I can say is good luck and don’t hold your breath.
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- 15. Charlotte Bobcats
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