By Trace Walker ()
As the Philadelphia 76ers won their first game of the season last week, I thought it would be a good time to reminisce on another team known for their losing, the 2011-2012 Charlotte Bobcats. Although the Bobcats never found consistent success and only finished above .500 twice in franchise history, the 2011 team took losing to a whole new level. According to winning percentage, the Bobcats had the worst season in NBA history, finishing the year at 7-59 (.106). The Bobcats stole the title of worst season ever from the 1973 Philadelphia 76ers whom are now at a close second at 9-73 (.110).
One little weird commonality I found between the 1973 76ers and the 2011 Bobcats was that both had a player from Xavier University. Center Luther Rackley played for Philadelphia, while Derrick Brown played for the Bobcats, both Xavier alumni. This may not seem significant, but the Cincinnati university has only birthed 17 NBA players. In comparison, the University of Kentucky has produced 90 NBA players. It’s interesting to me that out of the thousands of players that have been in the NBA, two of seventeen Xavier players found themselves on the worst two teams to ever play in the league.
This year it took the Golden State Warriors only eleven days to record 7 wins. Yet in 2011, 7 wins was all the Bobcats could muster. You may ask yourself; how is it even possible to win that few games. What must go wrong to be that bad? Well, to answer that shortly, a lot. A lot must go wrong.
For starters, just by taking a look at the roster, there is a mixture of players at the end of their careers and players just beginning theirs. In 2009, the average NBA player had been in the league for five years. Five years of being in the NBA puts most players at about 27, which was the average age of a NBA player in 2009. Most people also acknowledge 27 as the age when athletes are in their prime and playing their best. This may help give an explanation as to why the Bobcats were so awful. The 2011 team only had two players (Shaun Livingston and Tyus Thomas) whom had between 4-6 years experience in the NBA. As stated earlier, the Bobcats consisted of very young players and very old players. There were eight players that had played three or less seasons, while there were nine players whom had played in seven seasons or more. This mixture of young, and seasoned players was a recipe for disaster in Charlotte.
The graph shows the extreme imbalance of youth and age on the Bobcats
As stated earlier, the Bobcats consisted of very young players and very old players. There were eight players that had played three or less seasons, while there were nine players whom had played in seven seasons or more. This mixture of young, and seasoned players was a recipe for disaster in Charlotte.
Much like the 76ers who just ended their 28 game losing streak, the 2011 Bobcats were no stranger to losing streaks. During the season, Charlotte lost twenty three consecutive games. That streak being tied for the fifth longest losing streak in NBA history.
Another cause of Charlotte’s troubles was misfortune in just about every draft they ever participated in. Here is a look at what happened in each draft year and what could have been.
The Bobcats didn’t enter the NBA until 2004, which was unfortunate because the 2003 draft is known as one of the richest classes ever. If Charlotte had been in the 2003 draft they would of had the chance to land talent such as Lebron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, and Dwayne Wade.
The Bobcats chose Emeka Okafor with the number two pick. Okafor was dominant his first year, averaging a double-double with 15.1 PPG and 10.9 RPG. Emeka received rookie of the year honors in his first season, but after that Okafor gained weight and never reached his full potential. The Bobcats missed out on Dwight Howard as he was taken first by the Orlando Magic. In reflection there was much talent in the draft and a different pick would have been very beneficial. Charlotte could have went with Devin Harris, Luol Deng, or Andre Iguodala.
In 2005, the Bobcats had the fifth pick of the draft. Superstar Chris Paul was taken fourth by New Orleans, followed by the Bobcat’s pick, Raymond Felton. Felton played five seasons for Charlotte and was a solid contributor. During his years in Charlotte, Raymond averaged 13.3 points per game, while dishing out 6.4 assist per game. Felton had his breakout year the season after he left Charlotte when he averaged 17.1 PPG and 9 ASP.
In the 2006 draft, Charlotte missed out on another chance in drafting a foundation for the franchise. All-star LaMarcus Aldridge was taken with the second pick. With the third pick, the Bobcats selected Adam Morrison from Gonzaga. Morrison played only four NBA seasons, two of which came with Charlotte. Morrison’s rookie season was his best as a pro, he averaged 11.8 points and started in 23 games. After that first year, Morrison never averaged more than five points. After two years in Charlotte, Morrison went to the Lakers where he averaged 1.3 PPG. Adam Morrison was a bust and looking back there are many players that could have been chosen instead. These include; Rudy Gay, J.J. Redick, Rajon Rondo, Kyle Lowry, or Paul Millsap.
In 2008 Charlotte missed out on the landing of a superstar in yet another strong draft class which included Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Love, Brook Lopez, Deandre Jordan, and Goran Dragic. Using the ninth pick, the Bobcats selected guard D.J. Augustin. Augustin started in only fourteen games during his first two years for Charlotte while averaging 10.85 points per game.
The Bobcats fell out of the top ten picks in 2009, they used the twelfth pick to select Gerald Henderson. Henderson gave Charlotte quality playing time as he was there from 2009 until 2015 when he was traded to Portland. In the 2009 draft class there was tremendous talent in the top ten which included Stephen Curry, Demar DeRozan, Blake Griffin, James Harden, and Ricky Rubio.
In the 2001 draft Charlotte had two top ten picks, they selected Bismack Biyombo and Kemba Walker. After playing four years and averaging 4.4 PPG, Bismack was traded to the Toronto Raptors. Kemba is still currently playing for the Bobcats/Hornets. After averaging 12 points a game his rookie year, Walker has consistently averaged 17+ the last three seasons. Charlotte could have used their two picks to select Brandon Knight, Klay Thompson, Kawhi Leonard, or Jimmy Butler.
After the worst NBA season in history, the Bobcats were guaranteed the number one draft pick…. right?
Wrong. The New Orleans Hornets received the first pick and selected All-Star Anthony Davis. The Bobcats were left with the number two pick which they used to select fellow Kentucky teammate Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Now as much as I might love MKG, Anthony Davis is proving to be one of the greatest talents ever seen in basketball. In 2014 Davis averaged 24.4 PPG, 10.2 RPG, and 2.9 BPG. For comparison, in 2014 Gilchrist averaged 10.9 PPG, 7.6 RPG, .7 BPG. Charlotte could have used the second pick to select Bradley Beal, Harrison Barnes, Damian Lilliard, or Andre Drummond.
The 2013 draft was one of the lesser star studded drafts in recent history. The top five included Anthony Bennett, Victor Oladipo, Otto Porter, Cody Zeller, and Alex Len.
Charlotte selected forward Cody Zeller with the fourth pick. Since joining the team Zeller has averaged 6.7 PPG.
Clearly Charlotte has missed landing a superstar or two… I believe that their terrible draft history led up to the worst NBA season ever.
Photo credit (NBAE/Getty Images)
Before Charlotte picked the purple and teal back up, there was the eye-sore combination of orange and dark blue.
There was also the infamous race day jerseys which payed homage to the Charlotte Motor Speedway.
This post is also a fitting place to remember the sole All-Star in Charlotte Bobcat history, Gerald Wallace.
In the 2009-2010 season, Gerald Wallace led the Bobcats to there first playoff berth ever. The playoffs were short-lived though, as the Bobcats were swept in four games by the Orlando Magic. That season Gerald also made his first and only All-Star game while averaging 18.2 PPG and 10 RPG.
We must also pay homage to Rufus, the lovable Bobcat that roamed games at Time Warner Cable Arena.
Being a Bobcats fan was not the easiest thing in the world, watching year after year seeing the Charlotte team be the laughing stock of the league.
Some fans even begged for Bobcats owner Michael Jordan to come out of retirement to suit up for the team.
But as I write this, the Hornets sit at 12-8. Things are looking up for Charlotte as the young team is testing the waters in the Eastern Conference.
Photo credit (NBAE/Getty Images)