I don’t like to write assumptive articles before the All-Star break. Basketball is a game where the chemistry of the roster makes a huge difference, and for a team that has as much youth/roster movement as the Bobcats have had, it just doesn’t make sense. However, there are some very clear observations that have come to pass that I feel like need to be addressed before we make our true predictions for this team. Before this article really starts, I think I need to tell everyone that I am a fan of this team. I have had season tickets for some time now, and I want only the best for the franchise. However, I feel like the team has done some things that are a disservice to this city that cannot be overlooked. With that being said, they have also made some moves that make a lot of sense if they are viewed in the long-term. Let’s start by saying what this team has done right. Steve Clifford will be a successful coach in this league. He motivates his team to play the right way, and seems to have a firm grip on his players without being overbearing like his predecessor was. There is absolutely no indication that this team doesn’t believe in him, and his past record of success as an assistant speaks for itself. In the future, the only thing that might hold back Coach Clifford is player development, but no one can say he hasn’t put together a staff that should clear up the ailments of the Charlotte franchise. Patrick Ewing is a future NBA coach in his own right, and there are few assistants that have the experience necessary to develop big men like Bismack, Al, and Cody like he has. The same could be said for Mark Price. Players like MKG need to develop their technique and make the new form routine, and there are few better shooters than Price in NBA history. From a coaching perspective, this team is definitely headed in the right direction.
The next positive for the Bobcats are the players. If you were in the stands during the year that will not be named (let’s just say there was a strike there to limit which ones I’m talking about) you knew that the team pretty much did not care. This team is different. Every night, they come out and lay 100% on the court, and should be commended for doing so. The city deserves that type of effort, and this team has not disappointed is making every fan of the Bobcats proud with the poise and leadership this group has displayed on a night-to-night basis. There are very few players as clutch as Kemba, few with better post moves as Al, and few who play with the heart of an MKG, Cody, or Sessions. No one who watches this team would argue this. The will to fight is back for the Bobcats, and I for one am proud of all these players.
With that being said, management and the scouting department has absolutely ruined this team. Before people say I am being dramatic, let me illustrate this in a few ways. Take this list of players: Rajon Rondo, Rudy Gay, Joakim Noah, Tiago Splitter, Marc Gasol, Roy Hibbert, Brook Lopez, Jrue Holliday, Kawhi Leonard, Kenneth Faried, Chandler Parsons, Bradley Beal, and Andre Drummond. This is a list of players who were drafted after a Bobcats’ pick since 2006. While I understand that any draft has outliers and players who play above their projections (see: Faried, Kenneth) the amount of players that this team has passed on is a model that teams could use as a cautionary tale.
This brings me to my main point. 2014 holds what could be the strongest draft that we have seen in 13 years. The team is playing their hearts out, but also playing the way that doesn’t make sense when you look at things from a larger perspective. Let’s just say the Bobcats don’t sign Al Jefferson this past offseason and truly try to bottom out. Right now on NBADraft.net, the #5 pick in the draft is Julius Randle. Ask yourself the honest question: would you deal with one more season of losing to get Randle? I know I would. At the Bobcats’ current pace, they are giving up their 1st round draft pick to the Bulls as a result of the Tyrus Thomas trade. That trade in itself could be a column with 3000 words, but I wont do that to anyone. All I know is that I for one feel betrayed by this management team, and I think that they have botched draft after draft only to not be involved in the only one that could truly take this team to the next level. Does anyone think this team is going to be anything other than mediocre having Kemba be their best player when he shoots less than 42% from the floor? The good thing is that this team has a lot of players who care about what is going on here and are willing to fight every night for the entire game. That is something to be extremely proud of, and that is something that the team needs to do, even if it is one year early in my opinion.