Commentary| I get teased a lot because of my love for the Charlotte Bobcats; hey, a fan is a fan, ride or die, right? I am not here to harp on last season’s disaster, but to talk about a promising future, which starts this season. I do not see the playoffs in their future this season but what I do see is a 31-51 record, a 10-win differential from 2012-2013 season. It’s possible, and here is how, Al Jefferson and Steve Clifford.
The take on Al is that he is not a defensive force, ok, so what. That is why you do not play the game one on five; it’s called a team sport. Individual defense it always good but team defense sets the stamp on wins. The Bobcats ranked 29th (defense) last year, there are no words to describe this nonsense. I look at the roster for this upcoming season and I see potential for a better defensive team.
Defense starts with rebounding, a missed shot comes off the rim, the defensive teams rebounds the shot and it cancels any second chance points. The Bobcats are blessed with an abundance of capable big men to hit the boards, Al Jefferson, Bismack Biyombo, Brendan Haywood and now Cody Zeller. Shot blocking is over- rated, I prefer shot altering stats, if I can make you change your shot or pass when you want to shoot, just as good as a blocked shot.
Defense does not start with the big men and begins with the guards. A main reason why a frontcourt can foul out of a game is that, the backcourt got beat. The defensive front begins with Kemba Walker, Gerald Henderson and Michael Kidd- Gilchrist. Kemba led the Bobcats with 2 steals a game last season, Gerald Henderson and MKG averaged under 1 steal a game last season. The backcourt cannot continue to put the frontcourt in those situations anymore if they want to win.
Al Jefferson is going to change the Bobcats offense, no doubt. The Bobcats have not had a low block scoring threat like this since they were the Charlotte Hornets. Jefferson last season averaged 18 points a game and that was with a loaded frontcourt in Utah. In Charlotte, he will be the primary offensive threat and should average well over 25 points a game this season. Kemba had a nice season last year, averaging 18 points a game, he should stay around those numbers but an increase could do wonders for this team. Gerald Henderson averaged 15 points a game last season and should improve this year, playing with Al Jefferson in the post, who will free up more space out on the perimeter for the backcourt. I expect 18 points a game from Henderson this year. Michael Kidd- Gilchrist, such a enigma, the #2 pick overall in last year draft needs to show the team and fans that he is ready to be a NBA player. His average last year of 9 points is not going to cut it again; those numbers need to be around the 15-point mark and his assist average need to rise as well. He averaged one assist per game; one assist for a starting small forward is utter nonsense, time to step up Michael.
The bench has the potential to be something special this year. Brendan Haywood will bring you defense and rebounding from the center position, along with this year’s #4-lottery pick, Cody Zeller. I do not see Cody starting this year; the bobcats need his inside scoring off the bench. Jeffery Taylor brings excitement and athleticism off the bench filling in for MKG, along with NBA journeyman, Josh McRoberts. Roman Sessions is a capable reserve point guard filling in for Kemba when his motor goes low. Ben. “I will pull up from half court” Gordon is instant offense when he is on, a streaky shooter throughout his career but when he is on there is none better.
First year Head Coach, Steve Clifford has his work cut out for him in his new job, no doubt. By no means is he some fly by the night coach he has been around some well-respected head coaches (The Van Gundy brothers, Jeff and Stan) and Mike D’Antoni. As far as NBA cities goes, he has been involved with the two biggest media markets there is in Los Angeles and New York so fitting in with Charlotte should be a piece of cake. The question is, can he teach his brand of defensive basketball to a team of youngsters and have them buy into it?