2012-13 Charlotte Bobcats Preview
By Jim Brighters, NBA Editor
(Sports Network) - In almost way conceivable, the 2011-2012 edition of the Charlotte Bobcats was one of the worst NBA teams in history.
Their 7-59 record represented the worst winning percentage (.106) in NBA history. Had it not been for the shortened season, the 1973 Philadelphia 76ers record for worst regular-season mark of 9-73 would've been in jeopardy.
But Michael Jordan, chairman of the Bobcats, tinkered with the roster some in hopes of changing the culture of the team. Whether those moves work, (and based on Jordan's shaky track record evaluating talent, they probably won't), will remain to be seen.
The biggest decision Jordan made in the offseason was to bring in Mike Dunlap as the head coach.
Don't be alarmed if you never heard of him.
He had been an assistant coach at St. John's University the last two seasons and was an assistant with the Denver Nuggets from 2006-08.
It was a pretty vintage move by Jordan.
At least Dunlap will bring a change in philosophy immediately. Why wouldn't you when your team was historically awful before you arrived?
He announced that no one is guaranteed a starting spot, let alone playing time. Dunlap is running a completely open training camp
"That great unknown has created a hub-bub amongst our players," said Dunlap. "That enthusiasm is exactly what we need. We don't need cynicism. We need guys that are coming with an open mind and are ready to roll."
Dunlap's strategy will be to use the young legs of the Bobcats to their advantage. His plan is to play an up-tempo style on offense and a pressure- based defensive system.
"I hope we pressure the heck out of the ball," said Dunlap. "Secondly, offensively, I hope that off that pressure, when we do get deflections or steals, we run."
After season upon season of questionable choices, the Bobcats finally went with stability in June and tabbed the youngster that will help anchor this shift in pace.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrest, the Kentucky product and No. 2 pick in this past draft, will provide long-tern stability. Right away, that may not happen.
Jordan and GM Rod Higgins did overhaul the roster a bit more.
They added point guard Ramon Sessions, traded perpetually unhappy Corey Maggette for Ben Gordon and claimed Brendan Haywood after the Mavericks amnestied him.
2011-12 Results: 7-59, fifth in Southeast. Missed playoffs.
KEY ADDITIONS: F Michael Kidd-Gilchrest, G Ramon Sessions, G Ben Gordon, C Brendan Haywood, F Jeff Taylor
PROJECTED STARTING FIVE:
PG- Ramon Sessions SG- Gerald Henderson SF- Michael Kidd-Gilchrest PF- Tyrus Thomas C- Bismack Biyombo
KEY RESERVES: G Kemba Walker, C Brendan Haywood, F Matt Carroll, G Ben Gordon, F Reggie Williams, F Jeff Taylor, F-C Byron Mullens, C DesGagana Diop
FRONTCOURT: This is a raw, athletic and offensively-challenged group that should be able to wreak havoc defensively. The only offensively-minded frontcourt player is Matt Carroll, who, at this stage of his career, is a set jump-shooter.
The whole key could be, and stop me if you heard this before, Thomas.
The enigmatic Thomas has never lived up to his hype, but the 26-year-old still has time to turn it around. According to reports, Thomas put on 20 pounds this offseason, but with Dunlap's up-tempo implementations, will that help?
As for the four centers on the roster, well, to quote legendary Temple coach John Cheney, "they couldn't throw it in if they were on top of the backboard." But they're all adequate defensively and can rebound.
BACKCOURT: Sessions turned out to be a bust once he got traded to the Los Angeles Lakers last season, but he's a capable hand.
Henderson was the team's leading scorer last season and best player, so that's pretty terrifying. He's a decent scorer, but not a great shooter. Henderson can defend and rebound pretty well for a shooting guard.
Gordon is a great combo guard who is a scoring machine. Walker had a pretty solid rookie campaign last season and is also a combo.
BENCH: With Dunlap's idea for an open competition, it's hard to speculate. If it's Gordon, Walker and Carroll, that trio can put the ball in the basket. Gordon is an intriguing figure. He's been in the abyss known as the Detroit Pistons for years and his huge contract is seen as an albatross, but Gordon's a proficient scorer, who can do it in the fourth quarter. That is desperately needed on the Bobcats.
The up-front guys will use their fouls.
COACHING: Dunlap is a no-nonsense guy. That was proven in his professional manner at Bobcats' media day. He's a way outside the box choice, but if you're Jordan, what do you really have to lose? Dunlap has a plan and it's about the only strategy that could garner a few more wins for this team.
OUTLOOK: While they won't be historically bad again, the Bobcats are nowhere near the playoffs. The acquisitions in the offseason were veteran guys and Kidd-Gilchrest was a stable, safe selection.
But this team doesn't have enough talent to even contend for the eighth spot in the East. If everyone buys into Dunlap's philosophy and style, this team could surprise, and by surprise, not finish with the worst record in the league.
This season, and probably the next few, are about developing youth and forging an identity. That being said, the Bobcats can look forward to another offseason with a very high lottery pick.
Unfortunately, it will be Jordan making the pick.
10/24 08:54:05 ET