Michael Jordan continues to show terrible foresight, taking a team with perennial high lottery odds and adding a player that will most likely reduce their number of ping pong balls, just in time for one of the best drafts in memory. By signing Al Jefferson, the Bobcats should be able to crawl out of the cellar, but only far enough to keep them dwelling in mediocrity for years.
Head Coach: The Charlotte Bobcats change head coaches like most people change underwear. New coach Steve Clifford marks the third coach in three years, and the sixth since their inception in 2004. No coach has lasted longer than three seasons for the Cats, and that was their first coach ever, Bernie Bickerstaff.
Last Season’s Record: 21-61. Not the worst team in the NBA. Progress.
Key Player Losses: None, really. Not to say that they didn't lose any players, but they didn't really have anyone good enough to lose that would be that significant. I was expecting to put Gerald Henderson here but he re-signed, so... GO CATS!
Key Player Additions: Al Jefferson, Cody Zeller, Anthony Tolliver. Jefferson was a big get for them, agreeing to a three year, $40.5 million contract. He should push Josh McRoberts out of the starting lineup, which is good for everyone except maybe Josh McRoberts. Also good is that Bismack Biyombo will most likely be moving to the bench after the team drafted Cody Zeller with the fourth pick. Fans booed the pick, but Zeller dominated in summer league, averaging 16.3 points and 9.3 rebounds per game and shooting 52% from the field. Tolliver doesn't bring much, and statistically he's gotten worse each year he's been in the league. But he should bring some veteranship to a young team and can be a good locker room guy.
Best Player: Kemba Walker. He led the team in scoring (17.7 ppg), assists (5.7 per game), and steals (2.0 per game) last season. You'd like to see the scoring load spread out a little, as only five players on the Bobcats averaged double digits last year. Zeller and Jefferson will obviously help change that, and there's a good chance Walker's assist numbers could come up a bit. The two things he most needs to improve are his free throws (.798 last season) and turnovers (2.4 last season).
Worst Player: James Southerland. He was an undrafted rookie out of Syracuse, despite averaging career highs in scoring (13.3 ppg), rebounding (5.2 rpg) and three-point shooting (.398) as a senior. While he could turn out to be a steal, chances are better that Southerland will spend a good portion of the season in the D-League.
Player due to breakthrough: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. MKG is never going to be a top scorer in this league, his jump shot improved throughout the season and he's been working on it in the offseason to improve it even more. He shot a paltry .222 from three point last year, on only nine attempts, and you'd hope he can improve on that. You'd also hope he can bring up his assist numbers a bit, he averaged 1.5 last year. But he is a super-athletic, spark plug type player who averaged nine points, 5.8 rebounds, 0.7 steals and 0.9 blocks last season. He doesn't do any on thing exceptionally well, but he does give you a little bit of everything.
Random Seattle Connection: Assistant coach Bob Weiss played for the Sonics in 1967-68 and was an assistant coach for them from 1994 to 2005, when he was named head coach, although he stepped down after only 30 games. Assistant coach Stephen Silas's dad Paul played for the Sonics from 1977-1980.
Best Case Scenario for the Season: Honestly, the best case for Charlotte would be that everything fails and they are able to draft Andrew Wiggins. While the Bobcats have a young core, there's just not that much talent on this team. Walker and Kidd-Gilchrist continue to improve, and Zeller could be a very solid contribution as well, but having a talent like Wiggins could finally give this team someone they can build around.
Worst Case Scenario for the Season: Saying Charlotte is a long shot to make the playoffs is an understatement, and they will most likely wind up in the bottom half of the NBA, but not far enough to give them a shot at Wiggins or even Jabari Parker or Julius Randle. The worst case scenario for them would actually be making the playoffs, because the more games they win, the farther down the lottery they fall. And they could use all the help they can get.
Projection: 34-48, missing the playoffs yet again.
Prediction: Charlotte, for once, won't be in the race for the bottom, which is actually unfortunate for them because the 2014 draft is one of the best in recent memory. Michael Jordan and Richard Cho have clearly gotten tired of waiting, and may try and pull the trigger on another move this season. While this predicts to be another year missing the playoffs, Charlotte fans do have a few things to look forward to; a slight improvement, a young team that can continue to improve, a hope that whoever they draft somewhere around number ten helps push them one step further, plus next year the Hornets are back!
Head over to Rufus On Fire for even more on the Charlotte Bobcats!
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