The Charlotte Bobcats. It’s depressing that this three word phrase has become a punch line of sorts. Really, how am I expected to discuss this team without turning it into a Comedy Central Roast? Despite the incredible challenge, I’ll do my absolute best to not make a mockery of this faltering proud franchise for the next few hundred words.
The season for the Bobcats consists of a whole bunch of what if’s and hope so’s. What if Al Jefferson comes to Charlotte rejuvenated by a huge contract and kills it? What if Michael Kidd-Gilchrist learns to shoot outside of five feet? What if Kemba Walker goes full-fledged Connecticut Huskies mode on the NBA? What if Steve Clifford actually makes a difference? What if Cody Zeller is more than Tyler Zeller 2.0? If all of those things work out in the Bobcats favor then look out, eight seed here they might come! Yeah, I said eight seed. The way I look at it, the most realistic best case scenario for the Bobcats looks something like this.
Al Jefferson taps into his pre-injury Minnesota days and averages 22 points and 11 rebounds per night, commands a double team at all times late in close games and single handedly accounts for about a ten win increase for the Bobcats from last year. That’s realistic, right? Okay, let’s keeps going. Kemba Walker continues to get better, averages something like 20 points and 7 assists—I know that seems crazy on paper, but he was nearly an 18 and 6 player last year— and that accounts for an additional five wins. Now let’s assume Kidd-Gilchrist improves on offense—for the love of God it has to happen, right? Additionally, Bobcats fans can hope that Steve Clifford is the next Phil Jackson (I know, we’re straying away from the whole realistic notion) and Cody Zeller really maxes out as LaMarcus Aldridge, his NBADraft.net comparison. If (and that’s an if as big as the city of Charlotte) all of these things happen, aren’t the Bobcats at least in contention for 40 wins and the 8th spot in the playoffs? No? I’m crazy? Okay, you might be right. The more likely scenario looks like this:
Al Jefferson taps into his pre-injury Minnesota days and averages 20 points and 10 rebounds per night, commands a double team at all times late in close games, but remains a sieve defensively. Let’s say he accounts for 5 additional wins. Let’s assume Kemba makes a slight improvement, Michael Kidd Gilchrist bumps his outside of five feet shooting percentage from 28% to 35%, and Cody Zeller becomes the rich man’s Tyler Zeller… Maybe the Bobcats get to 30 or so wins which in turn will likely rob them of getting a top five pick in next years loaded draft. In other words, they f***** up.
Really, there is no winning scenario for the Bobcats that doesn’t include ending up with Andrew Wiggins on the team or Michael Jordan returning to the court as Jalen Rose suggested he may. The harsh truth is the only way the Bobcats can be interesting this year is if 50-year old Michael Jordan plays in a game—how he would hold up in an NBA game is a different debate for another time. I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for Jordan’s return though. So until the Bobcats become the Hornets next year and everyone gets excited about that for two weeks or so, they’ll have to settle for remaining largely irrelevant.