For those that know me, I’ve made no secret that I have a soft spot for the Bobcats. Can’t explain other than everytime I’ve seen them play, they put effort into their game and they genuinely look like they’ve been gutted when they lose. That said, they should weigh somewhere between 80-100lbs by now.
Continuing our TrueHoop check-in, we look at the Bobcats courtesy of Queen City Hoops. Last season we locked horns with Bosh helping us win the first match and the second match. Then we played them in a home & home and absolutely got beaten by lead pipes and chains, losing 112-86 in Charlotte and 102-89 at home. Be interesting to see how we match up this year. With that said:
Predicted starting 5:
Best offensive Player:
D.J. Augustin – He was the Bobcats most efficient guard last season, and that was while nursing an abdominal injury most of the year. Given the minutes this year, he could well be the Bobcats leading scorer.
Best defensive Player:
Whoever stays healthiest out of Tyson Chandler and Gerald Wallace.
Best new player:
Tyson Chandler – the Bobcats need for Tyson to live up to this due to the spot he is taking over for them. Should he fail to match the impact of Gerald Henderson and Flip Murray, the Bobcats will take a dramatic step backwards defensively.
Player that will be missed:
Emeka Okafor – The franchise’s first draft pick was dealt away this off-season in exchange for Tyson Chandler. The Bobcats went from a 6-10, 26 year old center to a 7-1, 26 year old center. However, Emeka was a solid contributor night in and night out, averaging a double-double each of his 5 years in Charlotte. While 14 and 11 may not seem like a lot to replace, it should be noted that after injury issues his first couple of years in the league, he has appeared in all 82 games each of the last 2 seasons. Solid production at both ends of the court, night in and night out – its a big hole to fill.
Weakest link in your top 8 rotation players:
Starters, D.J., Flip Murray and then…Vladimir Radmanovic? Gana Diop? Either way, the first big man off the bench is the de-facto 8th man in the rotation, but both of them have serious short comings. Vladimir was a shooter who couldn’t shoot for the Bobcats last season and his defense and rebounding leave something to be desired. Diop was a solid defensive backstop for the Bobcats, but his own non-existent offense may well offset his contributions at the other end of the court.
Greatest weakness as a team:
Post scoring. Tyson is a defensive minded center. Diop is a defensive minded center. Nazr Mohammed – well, tough to say what he has left after getting buried on the bench last year. And at the 4, Boris Diaw contributes all over the court and preferred the 3-point line to the post in his first season in CLT. Alexis Ajinca – wants to play like Dirk but hasn’t shown the touch from the perimeter yet.
Biggest question heading into the season:
The biggest question faces their offense: Can they score enough points to win? They should be good enough defensively to only need 85 or 90 points to win a decent number of games. But even that number may be out of their reach as they were 27th in offensive efficiency a season ago and their only post scorer is now in New Orleans.
If I was GM for a day, I would…
Package Raja Bell and Nazr Mohammed for a young backup power forward or a future draft pick or two. Two reasons – Bell is still a useful player with an expiring contract and there is interest in him. Nazr’s deal is not as good, but it is getting close to the end of it and I think he can still provide some minutes as a backup big for a team – but the Bobcats don’t need to pay him and Diop for the same thing. Give these guys a chance to contribute elsewhere…and force a youth movement with Larry Brown. Gerald Henderson is most likely sitting behind both Raja and Flip on LB’s depth chart at this point and for a team that is not winning a title this year, why? Same with Ajinca – the Bobcats gave up a pick for him, get him some minutes at the 4/5 and see what we have there.
My opinion of the Raptors:
Primary competition. I see the Bobcats and Raptors in that third tier of East Teams (1 – Boston, Cleveland, Orlando. 2- Atlanta, Chicago, Philadelphia, Miami. 3 – Everyone but New Jersey and New York) that are fighting for that final playoff spot. Colangelo has assembled a unique team in Toronto and it will come down to Bargnani’s continued development and whether Hedo can perform for an entire season like he did in the playoffs.
If I had to assign a "movie title" to my expectations of the season, it would be…
DodgeBall – between wayward shots and errant passes, I think Bobcats’ fans in the first few rows should be prepared for the ball at all times. The team was last in the league last season in turnover rate, and with Emeka gone, the players who remain are going to be called on to do even more.
W/L prediction for the Bobcats
38-44. I see the Bobcats being as bad offensively as they are good defensively, bottom 5 and top 5 in efficiency respectively, leading to a mediocre season that sees them coming up just short of the post-season.