Charlotte Bobcats 2012-13 NBA Season Preview

The 2011-12 Charlotte Bobcats managed just 7 wins and may just have been the worst team the NBA has ever seen.  They finally got their hands on a real GM, in the form of Richard Cho.  They drafted a well-regarded player in Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, but their PF position is a real mess.  You're not going from the bottom of the pit to the playoffs in one year and Cho is said to be of the Thunder school of building through the draft (lottery)... but you really, really don't want to be setting records for futility while you're having attendance problems.

Cho did a little wheeling and dealing.  He brought in some veterans who are probably better than their previous group.  That's not to say these veterans are going to start over the developing youngsters, though.  What's the roster going to look like?

C: Brendan Haywood > Bismack Biyombo > Byron Mullens > DeSagana Diop
PF: Byron Mullens > Bismack Biyombo >Tyrus Thomas
SF: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist > Jeff Taylor > Reggie Williams
SG: Ben Gordon/Gerald Henderson > Reggie Williams
PG: Ramon Sessions/Kemba Walker

Let's all agree that Brendan Haywood is good defensive center with a limited offensive game.  He's not totally incompetent at offense.  He's averaged right around 10 points for 3 seasons, but it's going to be scoring at the rim.  He's among the worst at free throws, that I'll give you.  He's head and shoulders about anyone else on the team at the center position and he's not a tweener.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist would have to have a complete meltdown in training camp not to be the starting small forward.

Once we get past those two, a lot of question marks start popping up for how the Bobcats are going to play this.  Take the power forward position.  The only "true" power forward on the roster is Tyrus Thomas.  Thomas has made no noticeable progress in his game in years and is squandering amazing athletic ability.  He's had his chances and we'll see if he's in the league when his current contract is up.  I just can't see him starting on a team that needs to establish some credibility after a 7 win effort.  The  other options are Mullens and Biyombo. 

You know the Bobcats want to develop Biyombo.  Badly.  Biyombo is beyond raw on offense.  And he's Haywood's equal at missing free throws.  Can you have two players as offensively challenged as Haywood and Biyombo on the court at the same time?  They'd protect the rim, but that guarantees a double team for whoever has the ball.  I'm guessing you'll see Mullens playing a lot of minutes at the 4 with Haywood.

Shooting guard is a toss-up.  Ben Gordon just did not fit in with the Pistons.  He was a 20 points/game scorer with the Bulls before heading to Detroit.  He almost always shoots over .400 from beyond the arc.  He should start over Gerald Henderson and it shouldn't even be close on a team that struggles to score.  On the other hand, Henderson was their leading scorer last year and the priority may be to develop him.  Either way, don't be surprised if Gordon doesn't lead the team in scoring.

Point guard is another toss-up.  Kemba Walker may have scored 12.1/game, but he had a terrible shooting percentage of .366.  He also only had 4.4 assists/game, though one does wonder who he was supposed to pass to that could make a shot.  He was a rookie and he might not have been ready.  Sessions is a more experienced point guard and a much better shooter.  Walker's development may be a priority, though.

I've heard some noise about Sessions playing some shooting guard, but unless they decide to have Henderson backing up Kidd-Glichrist at the 3, I just don't see there being enough minutes at the 2 to split between 3 players.

Are the Bobcats going to be in the playoffs?  Absolutely not.   They probably won't even win 30 games.  It's between them and Orlando for worst record.  Orlando has a more balanced roster, too.

The few games the Bobcats do win will be from wing scoring.  Unless they make a significant free agent signing or trade, the VAST majority of their points will come through positions 1-3.  Probably shooting guard will be the heavy scoring position per 48 minutes, which is only fitting for a Michael Jordan-owned team.  As bad as they are on offense, Haywood and Biyombo should be effective at protecting the rim, so at least the Bobcats have that going for them.

The future of the Bobcats lies in the development of their players.  Will Kemba Walker develop into what they think he can be?  Will Biyombo learn to score and is he a power forward or a center?  What's the ceiling on Kidd-Gilchrist?

The Bobcats roster isn't set.  Look for them to add a power forward and maybe a veteran small forward, since that's a position they're ridiculously young at.

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