The Sports Bank will be counting down to the opening tip of the 2012-13 NBA season with team by team previews starting with the worst and working our way to the title contenders. There is no lockout this time around so let’s get going.
After finishing with the worst winning percentage in NBA history, the Charlotte Bobcats have nowhere to go but up. Their rise won’t be rapid but owner Michael Jordan made a couple of minor moves that should make the ‘Cats slightly more competitive this season although not likely enough to get them out of the cellar of the Eastern Conference.
2011-12: 7-59, 15th in Eastern Conference
Predicted EC Finish: 15th
Projected Depth Chart:
C: Bismack Biyombo/Brendan Haywood/DeSagana Diop
PF: Byron Mullens/Tyrus Thomas
SF: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist/Reggie Williams/Jeff Taylor
SG: Gerald Henderson or Ben Gordon/Matt Carroll
PG: Kemba Walker/Ramon Sessions
Charlotte’s off-season was: surprisingly competent. I like the deal of adding a needed scorer in Ben Gordon along with a future first round pick for Corey Maggette’s expiring contract. That deal helps the lowest scoring team in the league immediately without putting them in too much worse of a cap situation and also adds an asset. Drafting MKG second overall was the right choice as the kid is a proven winner and fierce competitor which is the type of player a team like the Bobcats need.
Getting Ramon Sessions to replace D.J. Augustin was ultimately swapping one of the worst starting point guards in the league for one of the worst starting point guards in the league (although it appears Kemba Walker is the favorite to start at the one this year.) Evan adding the amnestied Brendan Haywood for an affordable two-million dollars per year is a slight up-grade from what Charlotte had in the middle last season.
The strangest move was hiring St. John’s assistant Mike Dunlap as head coach. It is a rare move for a college assistant to make the leap to NBA head man. Dunlap is known as a teacher of the game and defensive mind but was reportedly quite a ways down on Charlotte’s true wish list of head coaching candidates.
2012-2013 will be a success if: progress is made. There are maybe a handful of guys who actually figure to be pieces of the long-term puzzle for the Bobcats’ re-building effort. Guys like Walker, Bismack Biyombo, and Byron Mullens (maybe Gerald Henderson) need to show improvements from a year ago while MKG has to make his presence felt immediately. It would also be nice if Tyrus Thomas started to actually earn some of the $8 million he is owed this season.
2012-2013 will be a disappointment if: the Bobcats are even worse this season. Any sort of minute improvement from last year’s historically disgraceful finish is all that can be hoped for at this juncture of the franchise’s current state. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will a winning team in Charlotte… especially one owned by Michael Jordan.
Looking ahead to next summer: Diop and Carroll’s wasteful contracts will come off the books which frees up around $10.9 million in cap space. Another $8.7 could come off the books if the Bobcats decide to amnesty Thomas which will heavily depend on how he performs this season. Cap space is rather irrelevant though since I have a better chance of being seduced by Minka Kelly than the Bobcats do of attracting a marquee free agent anytime soon. Charlotte fans are hoping for a lot of ping pong balls which would result in another top pick and the possibility of Detroit and/or Portland’s first rounders being the Bobcats property as well depending on where those respective teams finish in the standings.
David Kay is a senior feature NBA Draft, NBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank. He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities. David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Honolulu. He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft and the most accurate 2012 NBA Mock Draft on the internet (Yup, repeat champ… #humblebrag.)