The Charlotte Bobcats have struggled as a franchise in recent years.
When your 21-61 record is not nearly as bad as the seven wins you posted two years ago, things have been difficult for your team.
There were issues on both sides of the floor for Charlotte. While they trailed only the Sacramento Kings in 2012-13 with 102.66 points allowed per contest, the Bobcats were not much better on offense. They finished with the fifth-worst scoring total and, in turn, the highest negative point differential in the NBA.
Yet things seem to be turning around.
GM Rich Cho has done an admirable job rebuilding the team in a short time, and his most recent offseason moves deserve praise.
Cho and the organization have focused on improving in the painted area to turn around this differential, a strategy that should pay dividends in 2013-14.
It has even led to a deeper bench that should help Charlotte pick up more wins going forward. To come in this slideshow are those players who will occupy that bench, as well as those who may not have the luxury of sitting down very often once the regular season starts in October.
2013-14 Cap Hit: $2.05 million
The veteran center is still picking up a quality NBA salary, but his days as a pro may be numbered.
The 12-year veteran out of North Carolina will be even further down on the depth chart now that Al Jefferson is in town.
In fact, he may be seeing some of the lowest minute totals on the team in 2013-14.
In doing the dirty work for other stars throughout his NBA career, Haywood made a living as an average NBA big man.
Unfortunately for him, his age and play leave him as a center without high demand going forward.
While he has one year left on his three-year deal, do not expect Haywood to see any more contract extensions.
2013-14 Cap Hit: $916,099 (final year, RFA)
While this may be an insulting spot for Jeff Adrien, it is by no means meant to be a knock on the former Connecticut Huskie.
Adrien worked hard to rise from the D-league ranks, as he saw action in a career-high 57 games a year ago with Charlotte.
That was nearly double the NBA games he participated in during his first two years as a Houston Rocket and Golden State Warrior.
The issue with Adrien is that while he is a strong, effective rebounder who snatched 3.8 boards a game in under 14 minutes of playing time, his height limits his rebounding potential.
At 6'7'', 247 pounds, he has the weight, but his height makes him more of a 3 than a 4.
This coupled with his inability to shoot the ball well, as seen by Adrien's shotchart courtesy of SB Nation's Dakota Schmidt, makes the ceiling not all that high for Adrien.
His time in the D-League also leaves him at 27 years old and, with only one year left on his contract, things just do not seem to be working out for Adrien.
While he will remain a solid effort guy who brings positive energy to the floor, it will be difficult for Adrien to make a big impact this season in Charlotte.
2013-14 Cap Hit: $788,872
One of the first picks of the 2012 NBA Draft's second round, Jeff Taylor proved his worth as a rookie from long-range.
The Vanderbilt alum and Sweden native is one of two current 2-guards on the roster and, at 6'7'', Taylor poses an obvious advantage over smaller shooting guards.
Like former teammate, Reggie Williams, Taylor's talents from the three should make him a more usable option for head coach Steve Clifford when he turns to his bench.
The Bobcats made an effort to improve their scoring and defense in the paint this offseason, and thus likely will have to stay in-house to improve more perimeter-oriented areas.
Taylor is one of those in-house options, and a fairly decent one at that. There is no doubt he has serious potential as a 2.
More production should have occurred for Taylor in over 19 minutes of play a night, but he should also be given some slack after his first year in the pros.
Expect a big improvement from Taylor in 2013-14, with a chance to give Charlotte more than its money's worth, as Taylor owns the dubious honor of receiving the smallest paycheck on the team.
2013-14 Contract: 2 years, $5.5 million
The former Duke Blue Devil and No. 7 overall pick of the 2006 second round comes in at No. 9 in this Charlotte Bobcat Power Ranking.
After nearly doubling his minutes upon being acquired from Orlando, McRoberts turned in 9.3 points per game, 7.2 rebounds, and 30.8 minutes in 26 games played as a Bobcat.
McRoberts paired with now free-agent center Byron Mullens to form one of the worst frontcourt combinations in the NBA down the stretch, but his scoring certainly did not hurt a team that struggled mightily in the paint a year ago.
After resigning with Charlotte this offseason, McRoberts will have a chance to continue helping his new team in the painted areas.
As Bleacher Report Featured Columnist D.J. Foster noted after the signing, McRoberts is "a stretch-4 who is not nearly stretchy enough."
I could not have said it better myself.
The Bobcats have addressed their issues in the paint with players far better than McRoberts, and thus he will have to make an impact off the bench if he wants to continue seeing good minutes with the Bobcats.
The good news for the former Dukie is that Mullens is likely gone, and thus the role of a scoring big off the bench appears to be all but his.
2013-14 Cap Hit: $5 million (final year, UFA)
Sessions set a career-high scoring mark with 14.1 points per game last season, a particularly impressive feat considering the guard did not start a single game for Charlotte last year.
Though this strong scoring mark came at the expense of Sessions' typically solid assist numbers, the seven-year pro still managed 3.8 dimes a night.
As it looks more and more likely that Gerald Henderson will not be a Bobcat in 2013-14, Sessions may have to continue scoring at a high clip for the Charlotte backcourt to match opponent’s guards.
Sessions did most of his damage at the line a season ago, where his .839 free throw percentage was the best of his career.
Whether he is playing starters' minutes or backing up Kemba Walker at the point, Sessions will be one of the first players off the bench for Charlotte and expected to score at a high level.
2013-14 Cap Hit: $13.2 million (final year, UFA)
The Connecticut alum is still making a living, and a quite comfortable one at that, as a lights out shooter from three-point land.
Though he matched a career-low with 11.2 points per game, and his three-point percentage was not his best at just under 39 percent, Gordon can still get it done as he reaches year 10 of his NBA career.
2013-14 is an especially intriguing opportunity for Gordon. As of July 12, he is the only true 2-guard on the roster with Gerald Henderson entering a sign-and-trade situation since contract negotiations with the Charlotte front office have stalled.
The Bobcats will likely target a shooting guard if they have to trade Henderson, seeing as the 30-year-old Gordon is unlikely to play a full season as the every day starter at the 2.
A backcourt of Ramon Sessions and Kemba Walker was effective a year ago for the Bobcats, though both players are more suited to play point guard.
Regardless of who the Bobcats pick up in a trade, Gordon figures to be an offensive factor for the Bobcats, particularly as one of their best three-point shooters.
While Gerald Henderson remains a restricted free-agent, it appears Charlotte is doing everything in its power to keep their starting 2-guard.
Charlotte has some options with Henderson according to Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Maxwell Ogden, but it appears they are most interested in keeping around the best option they will have at shooting guard rather than involving themselves in a sign-and-trade.
Either way, it is difficult to speculate about Henderson’s role with the Bobcats this upcoming season.
While he may be enticed by the team’s recent offseason moves, these may be the reason Henderson is not seeing the money he thought he would.
This is, after all, supposed to be the guard’s big payday.
Biyombo or Mutumbo?
2013-14 Cap Hit: $3.05 million
At 6’9’’, 245-pounds, Bismack Biyombo is a physical specimen whom many thought could one day dominate the paint.
That was certainly the thinking when the Sacramento Kings selected him with the No. 7 overall pick in 2011.
The 20-year-old native of the Democratic Republic of Congo has yet to develop much of a scoring touch, but has averaged an impressive 1.8 blocks per game in his first two NBA seasons.
It does not hurt that he has the name of an elite shot-blocker, primarily because of its involvement of the word 'smack'.
Furthermore, the signing of Al Jefferson, which essentially affects every player on the Bobcats roster, will directly impact Biyombo as Jefferson slides into the starting center role.
Biyombo occupied the role a year ago and managed to lead the Bobcats in rebounds with a 7.3 a game clip.
He served as the defensive force while splitting time with Byron Mullens at the 5 position, but this added competition will make it difficult for both to see the floor.
Mullens may be the odd man out in this scenario, as Jefferson has long been known to have a far superior offensive game to his defensive showing.
This makes Biyombo a player of need, and he will certainly see time as the defensive specialist big man. Cody Zeller also will need time to adapt to better scoring bigs in the NBA, so expect Biyombo to draw difficult defensive assignments on a nightly basis.
That leaves Biyombo as one of the most crucial players to the Bobcats' success in 2013-14. If he can continue his upward development, he may be a fixture in Charlotte and the game plan of any head coach who wants to beat the Bobcats going forward.
Cody Zeller is a big man
After turning in perhaps the best performance at the NBA Combine according to Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix, Cody Zeller re-affirmed his preseason status as one of the best prospects in the 2013 NBA draft.
Despite not even participating in any activities involving a basketball, Zeller recorded the combine's best standing vertical jump, 34.5'', and answered questions about his wingspan when that measured in at over 6'10''.
Zeller will need to utilize this athleticism at the next level, as he will have a target on his back in the NBA.
With two other brothers already in the professional ranks—Luke and Tyler—the youngest Zeller knows what it takes to compete with the best.
Cody has excellent ball skills for a big, and though he only hoisted up two shots from three-point land in college, he attempted what Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer called a “slew of NBA three-pointers.” This prompted head coach Steve Clifford to use the phrase “eye-opening” to describe his newest acquisition’s play.
If Zeller can become a stretch 4, a position NBA teams covet in the modern NBA, it will make the rest of his teammates all that much better. Three-point shooting would add yet another weapon to an already diverse offensive game that includes excellent dribbling skills.
Expect Zeller to start from Day 1 at the 4, as expectations are quite high for the former Indiana Hoosier. His playing time and NBA readiness should make him a likely candidate for the NBA Rookie of the Year award.
MKG knows how to finish at the rim
2013-14 Cap Hit: $4.81 million
The former No. 2 overall pick in 2012 is developing into a quality player for the Charlotte Bobcats.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist spent last season as the starting 3 in Charlotte. While he averaged nine points and just under six rebounds per contest, the athletic forward proved capable of filling out a stat sheet in every category aside from those involving the three-point shot.
While NBC Sports' Brett Pollakoff of ProBasketballTalk surfaced some pre-draft rumors regarding Charlotte’s willingness to make room at the 3 position by shopping MKG, the Bobcats clearly wanted to hang onto their second-year player.
Pollakoff certainly had legitimate grounds, and the potential to grab Georgetown’s Otto Porter would have been enticing for any team regardless of what small forward was currently on the roster.
Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer dismissed these rumors soon after they were released.
It is a good thing the Bobcats held onto the 19-year-old starter, because Washington selected Porter with the No. 3 overall pick.
Kidd-Gilchrist should mesh well with Cody Zeller, who the Bobcats selected at No.4. Zeller’s potential to be a quality stretch-4 should open up more opportunities for MKG’s mid-range game and ability to get to the rim.
2013-14 Cap Hit: $2.57 million
Walker has an explosive first step that allows him to blow by defenders with ease.
After posting decent numbers as a rookie (11 PPG, 5 AST, 2 REB), Walker put up staggering figures in his sophomore campaign.
With just under 18 points and six assists per contest, Walker logged inferior but similar numbers to the Wizards' John Wall.
Walker even played a full 82-game season, something Wall has yet to do in three NBA seasons.
The former No. 9 overall selection should continue to improve this season, particularly in the assist category.
The additions of Al Jefferson at the center and Cody Zeller at the power forward position should open up some alley-oop and kick out opportunities for Walker. He should be doing most of the ball handling in 2013-14, and his driving ability coupled with the difficulty opponents are likely to have guarding both Jefferson and Zeller will undoubtedly help the Bobcats bottom-tier offense.
Expect Walker to improve on the already impressive numbers he posted in 2012-13.
2013-14 Contract: three years, $41 million
Rarely is a team able to pick up their best player in free agency, but that is exactly what Charlotte did when it surprised the NBA and signed Al Jefferson.
While Sam Amick of USA Today reports the Jefferson deal will cost the Bobcats a significant amount of money, there is no doubt Charlotte is willing to pay the price for some wins on the stat sheet.
Jefferson, who averaged 17.8 points and 9.2 rebounds a year ago in Utah, has been the best low-post scoring threat on every team he has played for in his eight-year career.
His presence alone will open up driving lanes for Kemba Walker and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. It will give some shooting space for Cody Zeller, Ben Gordon and Gerald Henderson should he remain in town.
Though never an elite defender, Jefferson is an experienced big man with a strong knowledge of how to score baskets.
There is no doubt he will be worth the money, most of which is lost due to the Tyrus Thomas amnesty decision. Jefferson's talents will be highly appreciated in Charlotte, where fans are desperate for a change of culture and winning ways.
Jefferson could lead the team close to the mark his Jazz achieved a year ago. The 43-39 record left the Jazz just short of the playoffs, but such a finish would be an astronomical leap in Charlotte.