Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Outsiders: What About The Bobcats?

To say that the Charlotte Bobcats are a team on the outside looking in is something that rings true in more ways than one. For one, not even the most casual NBA observers would mistake them for a playoff hopeful this coming season. Let's be completely honest here, the Bobcats will still be a pretty terrible team this season. There aren't many things to be certain about in the NBA, but knowing that the Charlotte franchise will struggle through 82 games is something you could bet the house on.

Still, there is something about this team that is intriguing at the least.

Lottery pick contenders aside, this team more than any other still manages to distinguish itself from the other 29 organizations. The Charlotte Bobcats are a paradox. Located in a city rich with basketball history, and yet a history that doesn't actually connect to this team. Yeah the team will be adopting the "Hornets" name in 2014, and it's only fitting that in doing so they will be erasing this disastrous footnote from the history books of Charlotte.

The Bobcats never belonged. That's why it's fitting that the team that failed to establish any real identity will be taking on a name that brings back fonder memories of the city.

It's almost as if the powers that be placed these pieces together for the sole purpose of transitioning this team into a new era. The off season signing of Al Jefferson gave them a player that quite frankly, this team couldn't pass up. Michael Jordan has made some questionable moves since becoming owner of this franchise, including this very signing, but Al Jefferson certainly doesn't hurt this team.

In fact one look at the projected starting roster, and suddenly you have a team that won't bring many wins, but could certainly make a play for League Pass favorites.

Jefferson is an offensive force that leaves a lot to be desired on the defensive side. What he may lack on that end, many will expect rookie Cody Zeller and 2nd year small forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist to pick up on in the front court. More than that, MKG in particular could develop into a legitimate second scoring option, and a much improved defender on the other end of the court.

Kidd-Gilchrist's development going into his second season isn't just anticipated, but it's expected. His athleticism combined with a hopefully much improved shot could make him a very dangerous sleeper. At times he seemed uninterested in defense, and while Big Al may not be the best example to follow on that end moving forward, you can only assume the 20 year old will fix that. For all the talk of Harrison Barnes over in Golden State, it wouldn't be too much of a shock if Kidd-Gilchrist took the next step sooner than anyone else in his draft class, save his former Kentucky teammate Anthony Davis.

Then there is Kemba. Yes, Gerald Henderson is a reliable option in the backcourt by process of elimination, but Kemba Walker is the driving force there. His size is still a question, but it's one of those things people gripe about just to complain. He is what he is as far as his height goes.

What Kemba can change is his decision making. At worst, he'll take shots he shouldn't, and at times fill up the stat sheet doing so. At best? Kemba could make the biggest strides if he and Al Jefferson can establish some sort of consistent Pick & Roll attack. Big Al is the perfect offensive anchor that Kemba hasn't had in his prior 2 seasons. If he can control his own impulses and refine his game, then there is no reason not to believe the offensive efficiency can't improve greatly.

This roster is filled with talent and potential, but what does it all mean? On paper they have the pieces that could become a well rounded unit. In reality they are an experiment. A random combination of talented players that will spend more time "figuring it out" than they will winning, and that's ok.

This final year of the Charlotte Bobcats will be confusing, at times disappointing, but undeniably fun. Expect highlights. Expect them to lose games, but don't expect them to get ran over night in and night out. This is a team that will surprise you in games that you normally wouldn't expect, and should prove to be an intriguing option on most nights via League Pass.

The Bobcats are indeed a team that doesn't belong, but one isn't here to fit in anyway. They'll play at their own accord, and actually be entertaining doing so. In a league that's as top heavy as it's ever been, that's really all you can ask for.

Esau Howard


Terrill said...

Ok. I am from NC, so I already feel "some type of way" about this situation. I'm a Chicago Bulls fan for the record, but I digress. They need real management, then have MJ as the figure of the franchise. Tom from Myspace did this best. He had a partner, but most people never knew he existed. They never seem to make good moves with all the lottery picks they get. We saw LA Clippers turn LA into their city, so not all hope is lost for Charlotte. Getting the Hornets name back soon will bring great memories of Zo, LJ, and Mugsy from the 90s.

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