Why Is Everyone Hating on the Bobcats?

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stop hatin'

From the national media to the local press and back, it seems that everyone’s expectations are pathetically low for the Charlotte Bobcats as they enter the ’09-’10 NBA season.

[see also: ESPN The Magazine Eastern Conference Predictions | The Sporting News Season Preview| TSN's Shoals on the Bobcats "Mess"]

Am I missing something here?  Was there a secret meeting held somewhere deciding that all b-ball pundits reverse jinx the deepest, most talented squad in the Bobcats’ brief history?

Allow me a few points as to why the Bobcats are going to “BEAST IT” this year:

1. The team goes 2 deep at every position.

Gone are the days of depending on Jeff McInnis, Bernard Robinson, Adam Morrison and Melvin Ely to fill minutes.  As John Hollinger likes to point out in his team assessment, the Bobcats have historically relied upon a disproportionate number of “sub-replacement level” players to contribute.  By having players like McInnis, Morrison, Cartier Martin, and “Fat” Sean May sucking it up on the court, the ‘Cats have put themselves either in deeper holes or lost leads when they could have been staying in games.  That changes this year.

Even with Raja Bell out indefinitely with a gimp wrist, the ‘Cats can still go two deep at SG with Gerald Henderson and 6’4″ Flip Murray.  Henderson had a nice rookie preseason and Flip garnered some Sixth Man Award attention last year while playing with the Hawks.  Hardly Kareem Rush-caliber options in my opinion. Things get even better when Raja comes back into the mix.

At the Point, the Bobcats are set.  Raymond Felton, while not the world’s greatest PG, is a starter in the NBA and by all accounts a great leader.  His backup, D.J. Augustin, is probably going to take over the starting gig by midseason and looks like he could turn out to be a sort of a “Damon Stoudamire: EVOLUTION” when all is said and done.

The team’s best players start at the forward spots. Boris Diaw and Gerald Wallace is the best forward combo the team has ever trotted out and you’d have to go back to the Anthony Mason/Glenn Rice combo in the late ’90s to find a more versatile, skilled frontcourt in Charlotte NBA history.  Unlike last season, when the ‘Cats had to basically add 10 points to the opponents’ score whenever the two starters went out, this season the team has real quality on the bench with veterans Vlad Radmanovic and Stephen Graham and youngsters Derrick Brown and Alexis Ajinca.  Last season ‘Lex was one of those sub-replacement guys.  This season?  If he keeps up what he started in the preseason, he might be a real contributor off the pine.  The rookie Brown also showed consistency and poise during the exhibitions season.  Either way, expect the Bobcats to go a reliable four deep at the forward position.

With all of the talk of salary dumps and downgrades at the Center spot, the ‘Cats still find themselves 3 deep in the middle.  While Nazr Mohammed and Gana Diop aren’t players that you want starting for a playoff team, as 15 minute role players they are huge upgrades over the Primoz Brezecs, Jamaal Sampsons and Andre Brown’s of the world.  Nazr has looked good in the preseason and I find it hard to believe that Diop won’t eventually play his way into shape come December.  Meanwhile, Tyson Chandler is healthy and should make up for some of Okafor’s lost offensive production with his extroverted exuberance and energy.

2. Larry Brown has history.  Don’t screw with history.

Brown has coached 11 NBA team during his career.  NEVER has one of those teams failed to make the Playoffs two years in a row.  I don’t think that this can be stated enough.  There is magic here. Maybe if that coaching factoid was something like “in 3 coaching jobs in the NBA, coach Jeff Van Gundy has never…” but no, we’re talking about ELEVEN.  Whatever Brown is doing it’s not accidental.  He’ll find a way to make this happen.  Watch and Learn.

3. The Sun Shines on a Dog’s Posterior Every Once and a While

It’s been five years.  The team has made so many poor business and personnel decisions and had so many bad breaks over the past half decade that their luck is bound to change, right?
This season, that luck will probably be reflected most in their draft selections.  Between 2005 and 2007, the team had 5 first round draft picks (#5, #13, #3, #8, #22) that, as of October of 2009, has resulted in the following players: Boris Diaw, Raja Bell, Raymond Felton and Vlad Radmanovic.

Alright, I apologize.  I realize that after reading that last fact, you’re probably contemplating a cyanide tablet. But here’s the brightside: The last four draft picks look like keepers.  Augustin, Henderson and Brown look like at minimum second contract guys and Ajinca could either be a stud or a bust, we’re not quite sure.  This is an upgrade from last season, of course, when we were sure – that he sucked.

IN CONCLUSION:

I challenge the fans, the bloggers and the local media to expect more from this team going into next week’s Season Opener.  This is the best team that the organization has ever assembled with the best coach and the best talent.  Expect them to be good.  Very good.

-ASChin

Post-Iverson Fallout: 5 Reasons Why Bobcats Fans Should Put Down the Razorblades

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It seems like the darkest of times for Bobcats fans.

Are You Having Difficulty Coping with Being a Bobcats Fan?

Allen Iverson has agreed to join the Memphis Grizzlies, having been unable to come to terms with the Bobcats.
Meanwhile, rumors abound that the knuckle-headed Rashard McCants will be wearing a Charlotte uniform soon.
Fingers are still collectively being crossed in hopes that Tyson Chandler will be able play most of the upcoming season.
The team has yet to come to contract terms with Raymond Felton and a backup Power Forward has yet to be found.
Worse yet, Bob Johnson is still the team’s owner.

But I urge Bobcats fans to postpone the cutting and self-mutilation for at least a few more months because there is still some hope for the city of Charlotte’s 2nd NBA Franchise.

1. The Egos of Larry Brown & Michael Jordan.

MJ may well be a Hall of Shame evaluator of talent but he – along with Rod Higgins and Larry Brown – has shown a willingness to correct the roster in places where the roster needs correcting.
Last season it was an issue of passing and chemistry.  The Diaw & Bell trade remedied the problem spectacularly.
Thus far this off-season it is an issue of scoring.
While McCants would help a bit with this as an eighth or ninth-man role-player, the team still needs a starter who provides scoring for 40 minutes a night.
The Monta Ellis rumors are surfacing again and I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if such a deal were to occur before training camp.
With MJ being inducted into the Hall of Fame and Coach Brown still remastering his degraded image, it is doubtful that either one of them wants to be made a League laughingstock anytime soon.
Expect a move to be made.

2. Boris Diaw & Gerald Wallace.

Regardless of what transactions occur in the next few weeks, the Bobcats find themselves currently with one of the best Forward combos in the League.  While neither player is currently an All-Star, they are both entering their primes as excellent complementary players: Wallace with his hustle, energy and defense; Diaw with his court-vision, high skill-set and underrated defense.
A scoring presence in the starting five would result in nothing but improvement from both of these players.

3. DJ Augustin & Gerald Henderson.

We’re not certain of what Henderson is going to provide at the NBA level but we know exactly what DJ is capable of.  The 2nd Team All-Rookie shot lights-out last season and looked much more comfortable than most players (including Raymond Felton in his rookie season) leading a team at the point during his first year.
The fact that the Bobcats have two young, talented backcourt players on rookie-scale contracts will go a long way in remedying the current salary cap horror that the team finds themselves trapped in.

4. Sean May and Adam Morrison have been ejected.

No one likes to wear an albatross of past mistakes.  Having both Morrison and May on the roster last season was a constant reminder to both management and the fans of what could have been and what should not have been.  Yes, taking on Vlad Radmanovic’s contract for an extra year is a sour pill (especially when the team could’ve simply chose not to extend Morrison’s Q.O. last summer – giving them plenty of cash to sign Iverson this summer) but what’s past is past and Radmanovic is still young enough and talented enough to offer some value as a 7th or 8th man.  Radman could be utilized this season as a type of Rashard Lewis hybrid-four, lessening the need for a traditional backup PF.
Sean May’s ceaseless “potential” will move cross-country to Sacramento, relieving the Bobcats of having to depend on one of the League’s most undependable.  Let casino owners like the Maloofs gamble on May’s potential while Larry Brown finds someone who can provide consistent NBA minutes.

5. The Raymond Felton contract situation.

The current stalemate between Felton and the Bobcats speaks to a new maturity in the front office.  The organization has finally come to its senses when evaluating its own players.  Raymond Felton is reportedly asking for $7 million per season.  Meanwhile, a similarly talented young player (Ramon Sessions) has signed a 4 year/$16 million contract with the T-Wolves.  There is hope here that the Bobcats can either sign Felton for a contract closer to the value of Sessions than what Raymond is asking for or bundle Raymond as part of a trade for a scorer.

The cliche is that it’s always darkest before the dawn and I can’t see why it’s not true for the Bobcats.

There is talent, there is a Hall of Fame coach, and there are two basketball legends who are undoubtably concerned with their legacies.  Expect something good and expect it soon.

-ASChin