(This is another in a series of 30 guest columns that will run in October, when optimism reigns supreme across the NBA. The theme will be “Five Reasons to Feel Positive About … ” We encourage you to follow the authors on Twitter and visit their sites. – CS)
The Bobcats of last season were 100 percent tragedy. They were an utter disaster on the court, making NBA history with the worst season winning percentage. Thankfully for them, the shortened season saved them further record-setting embarrassment. Had there been 16 more games, they certainly would have put more skid marks on basketball history.
The team was sloppy, lethargic and just flat-out untalented – a dumpster fire of an NBA team if there ever was one.
But the upcoming season should shape up to be something of equal beauty and tragedy. The Bobcats won’t be good, but they should be fun to watch even if in futility. Still in the midst of a rebuilding process, the franchise has brought in a new coach, a top draft pick and additional talent at nearly every position.
Although there’s plenty to despair about with the Bobcats, there is also plenty to enjoy this season.
1. There are practically zero expectations
What’s more beautiful than being able to watch a team and know, “Well, in all likelihood, this can’t be worse than last year”? The Bobcats can try just about whatever they want – small ball lineups, full-court press, you name it.
New coach Mike Dunlap bucks conventions from everything to how he got hired to his in-game strategies. In the preseason, he has been tweaking starting lineups as he goes because nearly each position has similar talent level at the starter and backup spots. I expect this to extend into the regular season some as well. Dunlap essentially can have free rein over the Bobcats to try things like full-court press and extremely pressuring defense.
2. Charlotte is better at nearly every position than last season
Sure, they still lack talent to be consistently competitive, but they did get better. They let D.J. Augustin walk, and got a better talent in Ramon Sessions, who is a more efficient scorer. Ben Gordon adds much-needed scoring punch off the bench and 3-point shooting ability.
At small forward, Charlotte drafted two rookie wings in Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Jeffery Taylor. Both are talented defenders with great athleticism, length and motors on defense. While Kidd-Gilchrist doesn’t have a great shot, he can get to the rim decently well and get the team moving in transition. Taylor also has a penchant for shooting from deep, another issue last season’s Bobcats struggled with (29.5 percent from the arc).
Tyrus Thomas is expected to improve after a miserable season battling weight issues following a bout with stomach ulcers. Bismack Biyombo is expected to improve upon his rookie season as well. And amnesty signee Brendan Haywood should help the interior defense and mentor the young players.
3. Mike Dunlap
The new coach should add a very intriguing angle to the team. The move to hire a mostly unheard-of college assistant with little NBA experience was a surprising decision, but also one that may be brilliant.