The Charlotte Bobcats have made the NBA playoffs twice in their 10-year history.
They have been swept in the first round both times. Once this past postseason by the Miami Heat, and once by the Orlando Magic in 2010.
Is there hope for the franchise to jump start consistent playoff appearances after a strong 2013-14, or is Charlotte headed straight back for the depths of the Eastern Conference?
Kemba Walker Will be a Borderline All-Star
Over the past two seasons, Walker has posted numbers that have put him just behind the cut line for an All-Star reserve. Almost 18 points, 6.1 assists and 4.2 rebounds per game are very impressive for a third-year player, and Walker can only improve.
The duo of Walker and Al Jefferson is one of the top five or six duos in the East, and they are more than capable of bringing Charlotte back to the playoffs.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is Improving, Steadily
Although I have been hard on Kidd-Gilchrist because of his inability to put up double-digit point averages in either of his first two seasons, he has still shown steady improvement in many areas during his second NBA season—as explained here.
With another year of experience under his belt, Kidd-Gilchrist could very well blossom into the dynamic, athletic, scoring small forward that many expected in his rookie season after excelling at Kentucky.
Al Jefferson is Finally an Elite Center
Al Jefferson has one year left on his contract, and after consideration for the All-NBA Team this year, he'll look to average a double-double again in 2014-15.
Jefferson is only 29 years old, and after mulling around with Utah in the bottom half of the Western Conference for a few years he is being given a chance to flourish as the go-to guy on a borderline playoff team in the East.
The Potential to Seriously Upgrade in the Draft
With many combo guards/forwards headlining the upcoming NBA draft, several power forwards that could have an immediate effect may fall to where the Bobcats are picking at No. 24.
Adreian Payne or Jerami Grant would be solid upgrades for Charlotte at the 4. Both players can dominate the low block and also step out and hit jumpers—unlike Josh McRoberts.
An athletic, rangy power forward would certainly have the Bobcats looking at another playoff run in 2014-15.
Although Michael Jordan's club has been historically poor—only recording two winning seasons in franchise history—they finally have the puzzle pieces that could put them on the straight and narrow for the next five years or so.
With their current personnel and the potential to upgrade the roster this offseason, the Charlotte Bobcats could easily take advantage of the weak Eastern Conference and return to the playoffs—potentially as an even higher seed—in 2014-15.