Which Youngsters Can Charlotte Bobcats Count on for the Future?
The Charlotte Bobcats, only three months removed from their historically awful 2011-12 campaign, are currently in a massive rebuilding project, and therefore trying to evaluate the respective potential their promising young players each hold.
However, which of these youngsters will tap into said potential and become cornerstones for this franchise in the future?
There is no question that the Bobcats have had their dismal teams in past years. While this season is no exception, there are some encouraging talents on the roster that could possibly develop into featured players capable of leading this relatively young franchise to a playoff berth.
If that's not exciting to a fan base that considers the postseason a foreign luxury, I'm not sure anything will truly satisfy Charlotte.
*Only players 24-years-old or younger will be included in this slideshow.
Boom or Bust: Boom
For some odd reason, NBA franchises think score-first, pass-second floor generals are taboo. Much like foreign swingmen and forward tweeners, this breed of guard is often shied away from, especially on draft day.
Yet time and time again, these so-called shooting guards in a point guard's body see their stocks fall, resulting in a selection that is far too low. Kemba Walker was one of the latest victims of this problem.
After leading his UConn squad to an NCAA championship, Walker was drafted with the ninth overall selection in the 2011 NBA draft. Far too low considering the other players taken before him.
Nevertheless, this young man has proven his doubters wrong, showcasing the very skills that made him dominant in college. Last season, Walker had a very solid start to his NBA career, averaging 12 points and four assists per night off the bench.
This year, though, he has received the starting nod, and is scoring nearly 19 points and dishing six assists per contest.
Walker is a former champion too, and his leadership coupled with his talent will make him a force for the Bobcats for years to come.
Boom or Bust: Boom
Much like Kemba Walker, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist was considered the leader for his Kentucky squad that finished the season as champions last year. His consistent performances and great work ethic made him one of the top prospects in this summer's draft, even if he was still considered quite raw.
When the Bobcats selected him with the second overall pick, over the likes of Bradley Beal and Harrison Barnes, my initial reaction was that this Charlotte squad once again botched a high draft choice. Immediately, thoughts of another successful small forward the Bobcats selected with a high draft pick in 2006.
Of course, I am referring to bust Adam Morrison, who has been forced out of the league.
Nevertheless, MKG has proven me wrong, and in just a preseason and five regular season games has turned me into a believer. Critics are going to say that is too short amount of time to completely change a stance, but this prospect truly has a knack for the game of basketball that I did not see translating into the NBA game.
That, however, has not been the case.
Only 19-years-old, Kidd-Gilchrist is averaging 12.2 points, 7.6 boards, 2.2 blocks and 1.6 steals, while only committing 1.8 turnovers, per contest.
Boom or Bust: Boom
The oldest of all the prospects, Gerald Henderson doesn't hold nearly the value the aforementioned two youngsters hold, and for good reason. Not only is he far from an elite prospect, but his jump shot is far from consistent, only shooting 23 percent from behind the arc last year.
While he is not considered a three-point specialist, Henderson has showed signs of becoming a legitimate threat from behind the arc. If he adds this part of the game to his arsenal, this former Duke star will have one of the most complete offensive games in the league.
His athleticism allows him to be a dangerous penetrator and finisher at the rim, but opposing defenders like to sag off the guard. If he can shoot from deep, opponents would have to defend him honestly.
Additionally, his tenure with coach Mike Krzyzewski in college and the fact that he is one of the longest tenured Bobcats on the roster had made him a captain at the young age of 24-years-old.
“Gerald gets it,” Jordan said to the Charlotte Observer. “He shows signs. He’s a captain this year… To be a captain is a responsibility of leading by example. Don’t talk about it, do it. Be there every day in some capacity. If your shot’s not there, then rebound or play defense. These are the things I’m expecting to see from Gerald. He’s shown the signs. Now can he take the next step?"
High words from his boss, but let's not forget that this is the same executive who decided to draft Adam Morrison.
Boom or Bust: Bust
After seeing little action in his stint with the Oklahoma City Thunder Byron Mullens was shipped to the Charlotte Bobcats last season. Mullens was quite the pleasant surprise for a franchise that possessed few answers for their big man woes.
While Mullens battled consistency issues, his sweet stroke that extends beyond the three-point line and pick-and-roll abilities made the deal an absolute steal for the Bobcats. While the former Ohio State center played well in his first year with Charlotte, there are numerous flaws in his game that will most likely keep him from reaching the destination Bobcats fan probably hope for.
Simply put, his defense is atrocious. Despite his 7'1" lanky body, Mullens fails to alter many shots during a game and is often routinely beaten off the dribble by opposing big men. Also, he needs to hit the boards with more force.
Nevertheless, Mullens' size and offensive game make him capable of becoming a true starting center for a playoff team, but I wouldn't hold my breath.
Expect Mullens to find a suitable spot on the bench unit once the organization finds a replacement for the 23-year-old.
Bismack Biyombo: Boom
Even though he may never live up to being selected seventh overall in 2009, there is no denying the potential for this power forward to become the next great defensive force. With elite athleticism coupled with a lanky 6'10" body, Biyombo has become a blocking machine, averaging 1.8 blocks per game in only 19 minutes of action per game.
Jeffrey Taylor: Boom
Surprisingly, Jeffrey Taylor has seen a fair amount of action in the start of his rookie year. The former Vanderbilt star has started in three out of the five games, and has showed confidence while on the court. However, Taylor is quite raw, but may be dangerous once he develops.
Cory Higgins: Bust
Cory Higgins does show potential, as there are few 6'5" point guards in the league. Higgins has had chances throughout his first two years in the league to prove himself, but those opportunities have been quite ineffective.