15. Charlotte Bobcats
2011-12 Record: 0-100
Key Additions: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Ben Gordon, Ramon Sessions, Brendan Haywood (I guess?)
Key Departures: Corey Maggette, D.J Augustin, Michael Jordan as a basketball decision maker.
The Bobcats are coming off of a season where they took the term ‘bad basketball team’ to previously unseen lows. Their 7-59 record set a new mark for futility in the NBA with a .106 winning percentage, and the only thing that kept them from overtaking the 1972-73 Sixers team for the outright title of the worst team in league history was the fact that the lockout shortened the season to only 66 games. Thank goodness for loopholes.
The good news for the Bobcats and their fans is that things can not get any worse, quite literally. The bad news however is that this year’s version of the ‘Cats will start the season with only a marginal increase in talent, and many of the glaring holes throughout their lineup that led to such a dismal season only a year ago.
Michael Kidd Gilchrist was chosen second overall by the Bobcats this past June and has been given the unenviable task of “changing the culture” in Charlotte, an expression that gets thrown around with increasing regularity in sports these days. We’ve heard about coaches changing the culture, star players doing the same, and now an 18 year old rookie (he’ll be 19 when the season kicks off) who is roughly 14 months removed from his high school prom has been tapped on the shoulder to do it as well. Somehow I don’t see it going that smoothly.
The reality is that MKG is still very much a work in progress, and he should be given adequate time to improve the weaknesses in his game (his handle, jumper and physical strength for starters) before he’s saddled with the responsibility of establishing an environment of success in Charlotte. Yes, he will play right away and I have no doubt that he’ll make positive contributions as the season goes on, but this is a dire situation that will require much more than a single player to turn it around, especially one that is as raw as Kidd-Gilchrist.
Ben Gordon was acquired in a trade with Detroit for Corey Maggette, which is about as fair of a deal that you’ll find in NBA circles these days considering they’re both volume shooting gunners who are on the backside of their careers. BG will shoot, shoot and then shoot some more – But he won’t do much else. Brendan Haywood was picked up off of the amnesty scrap heap after being cut loose by the Mavericks, but who knows what kind of physical and mental shape he will show up in when training camp rolls around. If I were compiling a list of players who would completely check out after landing with a lowly team like the Bobcats, Brendan Haywood would rank pretty high. Freshly inked Ramon Sessions will fill the void left by DJ Augustin at the one spot, and assume his role of being one of the worst starting point guards in the league.
Besides those new faces, it will be much of the same decrepit roster that they rolled out last season. Kemba Walker and Bismack Biyombo – lottery picks from 2011 – are both still trying to gain traction in the league and show that they can be counted on for a consistent effort on a night-to-night basis. Gerald Henderson will continue being the least impressive leading scorer in the Association. After that… wait… Who else plays for the Bobcats again? It goes without saying that new coach Mike Dunlap will be in tough trying to pull this team out of the league’s basement.
The only other piece of noteworthy news surrounding Charlotte is that Michael Jordan has announced that he is stepping away from basketball personnel decisions and will focus more on the business side of his ownership position. For Bobcats supporters, this news comes as a blessing. It’s hard to believe that a man who so regularly dominated his opposition on the basketball court could be so inept in the front office, but it’s absolutely true. Jordan has enough bad moves on his resume to fill up a blog post of his own, so Bobcats fans should take comfort in the fact that he’s no longer steering this ship (reportedly). GM Richard Cho will now take over the reigns and begin trying to get this franchise back on track.
All I can say is good luck (and don’t hold your breathe).