Charlotte Bobcats Season Preview

2013 Season Previews

Charlotte BobcatsCHARLOTTE BOBCATS pre-Hornets

Of course, we do need to talk about the biggest acquisition in Bobcats history, no not Al Jefferson, the Charlotte Hornets! Once the best decision Jordan has ever made as an executive was announced, ticket sales and excitement reached levels the Bobcats didn’t see when they made the playoffs!
Sadly, Alonzo Mourning is not walking through that door.

Bobcats to HornetsHow would you like to double your win total, without adding anyone who needs to make plans at the All-Star game, and STILL get fired??
That is the problem Mike Dunlap had, and he is replaced with Steve Clifford.
Who?
Exactly. Clifford does has some names on the bench, notably Bob Weiss, who has been coaching in the NBA for decades, Patrick Ewing, who should be duct-taped to Al Jefferson (and will be the next coach of the Hornets) and Mark Price- who should be working with Kemba Walker and Gerald Henderson on what this whole “assist” thing is about.  I would not buy a house if I was Clifford, but if the Hornets find a great coach, then they hit a goldmine, if not then Ewing becomes a coach for his buddy, and Clifford can take his payout and coach in the Big 12.

Lets start with Al Jefferson, whom possibly becomes the best player in franchise history- something only LeBron James has experienced as an incoming free agent in the last decade.Al Jefferson

Center: If he learns anything from Ewing on the defensive end, Al is going to be well worth the money, offensively, he gives the Cats the best option 1 since Gerald Wallace was making a case for a top 3 SF in the NBA. Al is going to be a centerpiece on offense and could put up very good numbers if spacing comes together.
Backing him up is Bismack Biyombo. If the ‘Cats could get the NBA to change starters like the NFL on offense and defense, they would be set. BB tries hard, but simply is too stiff to be more than a defensive spot player. UNC alum Brendan Heywood is there, but is coming to the end of a decent career, but is still a good positional rebounder.
Behind them is DeSanga Diop, who is possibly even more worthless than BB with 5 fouls.

Power Forward: Moving down the list, we get Cody Zeller, whom is going to continue the long legacy of white centers from Big 10 schools to dominate at PF at the NBA level.
Yeah, I’m not predicting much here, but he might help with spacing as he’s not a bad shooter, but might be a tad slow for major minutes at PF.
Josh McRoberts should start, and can rebound really well to make up for a lack of scoring ability. As the season wears on they should flip, and that might help the second unit more than the first unit.
Jeff Adrien will be lucky to survive camp.

Small Forward:  Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, second overall pick, and second team all rookie. Forget the Pippen 2.0 talk. Pip could score 9 points a game NOW. MKG is a good defender, and better than average rebounder, and it might be intersting to see how those numbers change with Big Al down low and also Cody Zeller eating up space in the paint. Its hard to see if his play can do anything but go up with hard work and he might be Mark Price’s number 2 project this year.
It might be a little early to think he could be a bust, but some of the advanced metrics are not great, but if he’s the 2nd best player on your team, you might be having bigger problems. If he’s your third best? Maybe not. Lets keep in mind, this wasn’t the class of 2003 here. Not like the Bobcats passed over Melo or anything.

Shooting Guard: I still don’t like Gerald Henderson. Never have, never will. (Duke)  But the last third of the season made me dislike him less- going for 24ppg, while boosting your shooting percentage to 47% will do that, not to mention earning an 18M contract. Henderson ended the year at 15.5ppg, so the Bobcats have to hope that’s not the norm. Henderson is an above average defender, but has to work on his passing and rebounding. If he can give the Bobcats close to 20ppg with his defense, he’s going to be a major part of the future, but has to do better than 33% from distance.
Ben Gordon is not going to be part of the Hornets, not with a 13M expiring contract. If he’s any good, then he can be moved to a contender for some instant offense in a second unit, if not he can eat up some cap room to sign a free agent you want. For all the junk the Bobcats got for overpaying Al, he only makes 4 million more than Gordon does this year. The better his shot, the more options he will give the Bobcats (and his agent) for a new home.Kemba Walker

Is Kemba Walker the answer? I think the Bobcats have bigger problems, and he can be a player to keep. 17.7 ppg is a good thing, and if he can get 2 assists per game more now that he has a low post threat in Al Jefferson, they can live with Walker going for 18/8 a game with his defensive effort and 3.5 rebounds a game. The question again is: can you win with Kemba as your point guard? We just don’t know without knowing how he works in a system where he doesn’t have to be option 1 or 2 on every halfcourt set. Mark Price is going to earn his keep here. I personally think that he is a keeper, and as he was one of the players working on recruiting Big Al, that’s a good sign he wants to build something, and not run to Miami as soon as his contract expires. That in itself is a positive move for the uriun and orange.
Ramon Sessions is the backup, and had one of his worst years as a pro. He’s not much help with a 30% 3pt percentage, but he’s not a major loss either. Never a good sign when the bottom line is – there are worse options out there.
This brings us to Jannero Pargo. Pargo is a decent scorer, and has carved out a long career at the end of the bench. He also has to shoot better to stay around.

The PG position is not the worst on the team, but in today’s NBA, when your FG% is 42,40 and 36 with a 3PT% of 32, 30 and 33 with 3 shoot-first guards, you are going to have problems improving.Bobcats

Finally, I see the Bobcats improving to possibly 30 wins, quite a jump in how they have been playing. I do look for Kemba to take a bit of a step forward, and the defense to improve. Jordan is still a massive bust as an owner, but the pending change to the Hornets has excited the city, and could start some early season momentum, and decent performance there could last the entire season. Who they get for Gordon could also improve the team, as by then they will know where the holes are.

EJ with the 2nd look: The Bobcats are a franchise that’s in transition. Sound familiar? Anyway, I do like the signing of Al Jefferson. He’s a legitimate big man and that’s something the Bobcats haven’t had in the past. However, I’m not high on the rest of the roster. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist needs an offensive game in the worst way. So does Bismack Biyombo. If those two can’t score, then where does the Bobcats offense come from? Gerald Henderson? Kemba Walker? Cody Zeller? The Bobcats might get to 25 wins but another poor season and another high draft pick wouldn’t hurt the soon to be Charlotte Hornets.

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