(a sorta) League Preview: Charlotte Bobcats
Though not among the League’s sorriest, Indiana, Golden State, Minnesota and New York are all lottery likelies with the slight potential to make a run at an 8 seed. Add to that list the least of the Southeast.
PG (Ray Felton) D.J. Augustin
SG Raja Bell Gerald Henderson Dontell Jefferson
SF Gerald Wallace Vladimir Radmanovic
PF Boris Diaw Alexis Ajinca
C Tyson Chandler Nazr Mohammed DeSagana Diop
Were you thinking that I forgot about the Bobcats for a couple teams there? That would be a fair assumption. Especially since last year’s starting p.g. Ray Felton is still dangling in the world of the unsigned. But as much as I am tired of the Larry Brown Right Way, you cannot argue that the man gets results when he has had the chance to pick and choose personnel. The successive acquisitions of Augustin, Diaw, Bell, Henderson and Chandler make the Bobcats Brown’s team.
Charlotte has a real good starting front line. Chandler is the archetypal Brown pivot: Long, defensive oriented, and willing to accept little or no offensive role. Though Charlotte was roundly panned for the Okafor-Chandler swap, if the 26 year old veteran of 8 NBA seasons can stay healthy, Tyson is about to go off anchoring the Bobcat D. Wallace and Diaw are a dynamic forward combo. Both are extremely well rounded basketball players able to compete in all facets of the game. Wallace’s energy, length and athleticism allow him to dominate in stretches. Diaw plays with a savy and ease that can elevate his teammates.
The Bobcat backcourt and bench are sketchy. Charlotte would not be messing around with Felton if they did not think that Augustin had the goods. But the young fella has lots to prove before he can hold down the starting job. Dude is 6’0. There have been smaller guys who were effective starters. Not too many though. Charlotte needs to re-sign Ray Felton if for no other reason than to have him as a trade asset. Raja Bell is well past his prime. Rookie Henderson is a Dukie. The bench is populated by established disappointments and long shots. Even if Augustin can rock it, Brown might need once again to use Felton as a two guard. Trouble.
The Bobcats could really use a high lottery pick next year. They may well earn one. The 8 seed in the East will require a winning record in 2009-10 season, a very high bar for a team with so many question marks. But the Bobcats will likely gel as a tough defensive team that plays together. The NBA season is long, and the teams that focus on the D are usually in the majority of games until the final few minutes. Get enough timely shots and stops and who knows.