Revisiting Preseason Predictions for the Charlotte Bobcats
The Bobcats currently stand at 18-61 after dropping their fourth consecutive game, a 20-point loss to a Detroit Pistons team that shouldn't be winning 20-point games against anyone. The loss dropped Charlotte to 1-5 in the month of April, with all but one of the losses coming by double-digits.
It's just another year of obscurity in Charlotte. Record-wise, they're the worst time in the NBA for a second consecutive season, unless they can surpass the 20-59 Orlando Magic. It's their third consecutive losing season and the eighth time in nine years Charlotte will finish under .500.
There wasn't much expected out of the Bobcats this season. Analysts knew going in they wouldn't be as bad as the 7-59 team from last year. With the acquisitions of rookies in Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Jeffery Taylor, the signing of Ramon Sessions and the development of Kemba Walker and Bismack Biyombo, it would be difficult for the Bobcats to be statistically worse than the year before.
They're not as bad as last year, but they did a fair job at matching the futility that characterized last season.
Charlotte ranks 28th in points per game, 30th in field goal percentage, 27th in three-point percentage, 27th in three-point makes, 27th in total rebounds and 30th in assists.
According to SynergySports, the Bobcats are netting 0.89 points per possession. For the sake of comparison, the Miami Heat are getting 1.02 in the same category.
Outside of isolations and pick-and-rolls, the Bobcats rank 21st or worse running any other type of play, including 29th on spot-ups and plays run for the pick-and-roll man.
They're also 27th in post-ups. Have you realized that this team has frontcourt trouble, yet?
And that's just on offense. On defense, they rank 29th in points given up per game, 28th in field-goal percentage, 29th in three-point percentage, 30th in three-point makes, 28th in rebounds and 30th in assists.
Is it safe to say the Charlotte Bobcats played relatively poor this season?
Everybody saw it coming, even with Michael Jordan relinquishing his hands on the controls and allowing new general manager Rich Cho to take the reins of putting together a team. It was going to take far more than a season for the Bobcats to become relevant.
And it's going to take a whole lot longer than that. Charlotte will be happy to have some money cleared off the books and another high draft pick, but it's going to take a significant signing of an established All-Star to turn the Bobcats into a team worth caring about.
The problem with that will be Charlotte's difficulty in attracting any free agent to play in a Bobcats uniform. There will be several high-end free agents this summer, and the organization is going to have to promise some amount of team success in order to lure a star who can very easily take a paycut and play with other top-shelf talent.
Kemba Walker and Gerald Henderson aren't household names, yet. They're tough sells—as is a Bobcats team that has had eight losing seasons in its nine-year existence.
But there is a glimmer of hope for the Bobcats future. Kemba Walker has matured and has played well with a larger role in his sophomore season; Gerald Henderson continues to improve in his fourth season, and Kidd-Gilchrist has the makings of a multifaceted talent.
The Bobcats have one of the league's top point guard combinations in Walker and Sessions and a rising shooting guard in Henderson. Don't look at the Bobcats' backcourt as the primary reason for yet another year of ineptitude.
It's the frontcourt's doing.
In their most recent game, Charlotte threw out a starting frontcourt composed on Kidd-Gilchrist, Josh McRoberts and Biyombo. Where is the offensive production supposed to come from? McRoberts and Biyombo can't score from outside of the paint, and Kidd-Gilchrist isn't much better, shooting 27 percent on jumpers.
Jannero Pargo played the most minutes off the bench. Does anything else need to be said about the state of this team? Charlotte failed to realize that Gilchrist wasn't a scorer and inevitably ended up with a lineup that's among the league's worst in terms of putting the ball in the basket.
The best frontcourt scorer for the Bobcats? Byron Mullens, a seven-footer who is shooting 39 percent from the field and 32 percent from three.
The Bobcats will be happy to see DeSagana Diop's contract expiring after this season. The Bobcats are on their final $7 million payment of one of the worst contracts in the NBA. Unfortunately, they are still paying Ben Gordon (player option of $13.4 million next season) and Tyrus Thomas (owed a little more than $25 million over the next three seasons).
Still, the 2012-13 season wasn't as bad as it could have been for the Bobcats. In fact, they're right on par with most of the predictions that were compiled before the season began. Many predicted Charlotte to have a bad year but to show signs of a promising future.
Yahoo's Ball Don't Lie' staff actually undershot the Bobcats in their prediction for the team, assigning Charlotte a 15-67 record.
But Ball Don't Lie was absolutely right in insisting that Charlotte needed the Ben Gordon that played for the Chicago Bulls and not the Detroit Pistons. Somehow, the Bobcats got something worse as Gordon shot under 40 percent from beyond the arc for only the second time in his nine-year career. His 41 percent field goal percentage is a career low, and the 11.5 points per game average is the second lowest of his career. He's also averaging career lows in rebounds and assists.
The 21 minutes per game Gordon is averaging is also a career low. He has a PER of 13.
Sportsgrid.com provided an even grimmer outlook for the 2012-13 season by giving the Bobcats an 11-71 record. Perhaps that dreadful record was a carryover from the previous season where they set the NBA-record for lowest winning percentage.
Charlotte was going to be bad, but 11-71 was pushing it. Whoever composed that prediction clearly didn't show any regard for the development of Kemba Walker.
Walker went from averaging 12.1 points on 36 percent season shooting in his rookie season to 17.6 points on 42 percent shooting in his second. His assist total has gone up from 4.4 to 5.7 per.
Walker's shooting numbers have jumped as well. He's shooting 42 percent from 10-16 feet and 43 percent from 16 feet out to the perimeter. Last year, Walker shot 38 and 34 percent, respectively, from those ranges, according to basketball-reference.com.
Sports Illustrated provided some of the best insights for the 2012-13 Bobcats' campaign.
The preview mentioned that Gerald Henderson needed to become more than a role player in order for the team to be make a drastic improvement. Henderson, however, has only seen a minimal improvement in his numbers from the year before.
His PER improved to a career-high 16, and he also garnered a career-high 3.1 win shares (an improvement from last year when he had one), but it transferred only slightly to his overall impact.
Henderson improved his three-point shooting, his his overall field goal percentage fell, and his points per game barely increased from the year before. He's also having trouble finishing inside, shooting only 57 percent on shots taken near the rim compared to 68 percent from the same area last year, according to basketball-reference.com,
He's choosing his shots well, too. A year after taking 308 shots in the 16-25 foot range, Henderson has taken only 255 shots from that area and has taken a far larger percentage of his shots from inside 16 feet and in the paint.
The number of Henderson's field goal attempts declined somehow, despite the team wanting him to have an increased role. Despite being the second-leading scorer on the team, he's only getting 12 shots per game, currently placing him outside the top 50 in the NBA in field goal attempts per game.
There are too many problems to begin mentioning when dealing with this team. But there is a foundation, and that's all you can ask of from a team that has one winning season in nine years.
If it means anything to the Bobcats, it seems that they were underrated by the experts who before the 2012-13 season.
Maybe they can make a trophy for that.
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