While there is growing optimism within the organization, Charlotte still has a ways to go to reach the upper echelon of teams in the Eastern Conference.
Despite upgrades at nearly every position—through free agency or the development process of players—the Bobcats will face hurdles in most facets of the game next season.
No player in the projected Bobcats starting rotation (Kemba Walker, Gerald Henderson, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Cody Zeller and Jefferson) is proficient at shooting the three. That means Clifford and Co. will have to be creative with their offensive play-calling.
Rick Bonnell from the Charlotte Observer noted earlier this summer the development of Walker and Kidd-Gilchrist directly ties in with the hiring of assistant coach Mark Price.
Price is expected to work on Kidd-Gilchrist's confidence and his shooting technique. The assistant coach will also assist Walker's development in the pick-and-roll game while attempting to perfect his floater.
Running the pick-and-roll should be more effective with an intelligent big man in Jefferson. He's an obvious upgrade. The real question marks for this offense are Kidd-Gilchrist and Zeller.
If MKG can put together even a semblance of an updated shot from range and Zeller can transition into the rotation as seamlessly as he did during the Las Vegas Summer League, the Bobcats offense should have some firepower.
Walker picking up the pick-and-roll offense better won't only rely on how Jefferson and Zeller transition into the offense. His development will also depend on patience from the third-year pro.
According to 82games.com, Walker took 37 percent of his shot attempts within 10 seconds of the shot clock. That's a quick trigger for a point guard who isn't a great shooter. He's going to have to make better decisions early in the season and make that a consistent effort for the Bobcats to be successful.
While Charlotte's backcourt of Walker-Henderson-MKG should play some stout defense, the pairing of Zeller and Jefferson leaves much to be desired.
Jefferson is known more for his offense and less for his ability to stay with big men on the block. He's got bad feet, gets lost in the pick-and-roll and is slow on switches. As if that combination isn't bad enough, his counterpart, Zeller, is an unproven rookie who brings the "soft" label to the land of giants.
With Bismack Biyombo waiting on the bench, it might not be long before Clifford opts to balance the roster with Zeller in a reserve role if things get too shaky early on.
Seven of Charlotte's first nine games are against either playoff contenders or against teams coming off tough playoff losses.
They'll have to withstand two tilts with the New York Knicks, two against the new-look Cleveland Cavaliers and matchups against the Chicago Bulls, Boston Celtics and Atlanta Hawks. That's a tough road to follow for a young team hoping to make a splash early on.
In order to build confidence moving forward, they'll need to get a few upsets along the way.