Things looking up in Charlotte... a little
(The Sports Network) For the 2012-13 NBA season, the Charlotte Bobcats were not as historically bad as they were the previous season.
That's what they should've printed on their season tickets.
Two seasons ago, the Bobcats had the worst winning percentage in league history. If not for a labor-shortened season, Charlotte could have enjoyed the worst record ever.
Last season was much better, although the Bobcats would not be confused with the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls. The Bobcats did pick up seven wins in November.
And 14 over the next five months.
The Bobcats suffered through an 18-game losing streak that spanned into a 1-15 December. They were back to being the laughing stock of the NBA. (In fact, a three-game Charlotte winning streak at the end of the season gave the Orlando Magic the worst record in the league.)
With some cash in pocket (after finally jettisoning the unreliable Tyrus Thomas), and a need for an impact guy, the Bobcats signed Al Jefferson to a three-year deal.
Jefferson has never gotten the royal treatment his numbers may warrant. The center has averaged 18.9 ppg and 10.1 rpg over the last seven season, all the while staying relatively healthy. (Jefferson tweaked an ankle in a preseason game, but should be fine.)
They could use a borderline superstar. The Bobcats tied for 26th in scoring and 27th in rebounding, two things Jefferson should help with immediately. Jefferson is not known as a good defensive player and Charlotte could definitely use a boost on that side of the floor. The Bobcats finished 29th in opponents' scoring.
Who's In/Who's Out
Key Additions: Al Jefferson, Cody Zeller, Anthony Tolliver, Jannero Pargo
Key Losses: Tyrus Thomas, Byron Mullins, Reggie Williams
With a fringe superstar in the fold, stability should come with it.
Still The Champs
Mid-Low Playoff Seed
Youth Making Strides
It Could Be Worse
We Want Wiggins
Jefferson is a sensational low-post talent. He will immediately improve the on-court product, but Jefferson has never been a winner at any point in his career. That may be remarkably bad luck, but it might be reflective of him. (Jefferson has never been labeled anything but a model teammate.)
They also have a solid young core with Kemba Walker and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.
Kidd-Gilchrist was the second pick in the 2012 NBA Draft and was not taken to be an impact guy right away. His numbers were modest (9.0 ppg, 5.8 rpg and 1.5 apg), and his shooting needs to improve. Kidd-Gilchrist posted marks of 45 percent from the field (good) and 22 percent from the 3-point line (bad). His development is key to the Bobcats' franchise. His numbers should go up some.
Walker might have had the best season no one outside the Walker family cared about in 2012-13. He averaged 17.7 ppg, 5.7 apg, 2.0 spg. He shot 42 percent from the field and 32 percent from long range. Walker is a legit NBA point guard.
Gerald Henderson emerged a bit. While his scoring average (15.5 ppg) remained steady, he shot 33 percent from beyond the arc and he signed a reasonable free-agent contract in the offseason. He may not be the cornerstone two guard, but he's serviceable.
Ben Gordon and Ramon Sessions could be the best bench backcourt in the league. Both can score and probably deserve to be on the floor at the end of games.
Bismack Biyombo and Jeffery Taylor also showed flashes last season.
What To Expect
The Bobcats still won't be relevant this season.
Jefferson was a good addition and Zeller will surprise some, but there is not enough talent for the Bobcats to sniff the postseason. Walker, Henderson and Kidd-Gilchrist are the start of something, but it's just a start.
A mild improvement on the 21 wins is reasonable. Give everyone some time to build together, add some more high draft picks and Charlotte might reach the playoffs later this decade.