Top 5 Players in Charlotte Bobcats History
The Charlotte Bobcats entered the league as an expansion team in 2004, and they've had one of the more interesting franchise histories thus far.
The Bobcats' lone playoff appearance came in the 2009-10 campaign, where they were convincingly swept by the Orlando Magic in the first round. Since then, the Bobcats have never even been close to sniffing the playoffs, and instead clinched the worst winning percentage in a single season in 2011-12 (via FOX Sports).
However, there have been a few bright spots in the midst of their struggles over the years. A few former Bobcats have catapulted their careers because of the opportunity of getting significant playing time on a new team.
This list will showcase what I believe to be the five best players in Bobcats history. I will consider everything from a player's skill level, the impact they had on the team's success and tenure with the team.
5. Gerald Henderson
Gerald Henderson is one of the longest tenured Bobcats, and the only player on this list who's still part of the team as of today. He recently signed a three-year, $18 million deal to remain with the Bobcats and is part of the team's rebuilding plans for the near future (via ESPN).
Henderson has been developing steadily over the past few years and saw his scoring average and PER increase every year since he entered the league in 2009 (per Basketball Reference).
Although his career has been marred with various injuries, none of them were severe enough to stunt Henderson's improvement. In the past two seasons, he has averaged a respectable 15.3 PPG on 45.2 percent shooting from the field—a big improvement over the 6.9 PPG he averaged in the first two seasons of his career.
By signing him to another contract, the Bobcats organization have made it clear that the hyper-athletic shooting guard will have a prominent role on the team for the next few seasons at least.
4. Stephen Jackson
Stephen Jackson would definitely rank higher on this list if he suited up for more games as a member of the Bobcats.
He only appeared in 137 games in a Bobcats uniform, but he was arguably the best all-around offensive player that the franchise has seen. In those 137 games, Jackson recorded averages of 19.8 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 3.6 APG and 1.4 steals per game.
Even though Jackson has had a relatively controversial career, he was still a very good player during his prime. In the 2009-10 season, he averaged 21.1 PPG, 5.1 RPG and 3.6 APG and was instrumental in leading the team to their first ever postseason appearance.
Unfortunately for Jackson, his Bobcats career was cut short after he got traded to the Milwaukee Bucks. After that, he never really got back on his feet and he started to see his production decline in every subsequent team he's been on.
3. Raymond Felton
Although Felton may never compete at the same level as the two aforementioned superstars, he had some great years with the Bobcats before the team decided to go in another direction.
Felton played the second-most games out of any other Bobcat (399) and averaged 13.3 PPG and 6.4 APG during that time. He started in 369 of those 399 games at point guard and—like Jackson—was key to the Bobcats making the playoffs in 2010.
Part of the reason for Felton's departure could be attributed to D.J. Augustin taking a bigger role and succeeding him as the starting point guard. However, three years later and Felton is now the starting point guard on a playoff contending team, while Augustin has bounced around the league and never saw his game blossom.
2. Emeka Okafor
After winning the 2005 Rookie of the Year award, Emeka Okafor continued to steadily contribute for the following five seasons until he got traded to the New Orleans Hornets.
Okafor finished every one of those five seasons with a double-double average. In 330 total games, Okafor averaged 14.0 PPG, 10.9 RPG, 1.9 blocks per game and a 50.6 field goal percentage.
In the 2008 offseason, the team signed Okafor to a six-year, $72 million contract, which was by far the biggest contract that the team offered to any of their players (via Marc Stein of ESPN).
Despite the new contract, Okafor never really showed much improvement since his rookie season and he was shipped off one year later. His 15.1 PPG during his rookie season is still a career-high up to this day.
1. Gerald Wallace
Gerald Wallace was the face of the franchise ever since he got selected to join the team in the 2004 NBA Expansion Draft.
He holds the record for most games played in (454) and a handful of other franchise records for the team. He is also the all-time leader in total points scored, minutes played, field goals made and attempted and total steals recorded.
Wallace was also the first Bobcat (and only one, even up until now) ever to be selected to participate on the All-Star team in 2010.
Wallace was also relatively unknown before joining the squad in 2004. He spent three seasons on the Sacramento Kings' bench during their glory days, but showed great potential when he instantly became the starting small forward.
The man known as "Crash" carved out a nice career with the team, as he proved himself to be one of the most versatile scorers in the league, as well as an elite defender who can hold his own at multiple positions.