The 2011-2012 version of the Charlotte Bobcats wasn’t just the worst in the NBA, it was the worst in NBA history. Finishing the season on a 23 game losing streak, the Bobcats posted a 7-59 record, winning a record low 10.6% of their games. A shortened season didn’t help them, and having Michael Jordan as an owner didn’t help them, as it hasn’t for most of the franchise’s existence.
So what has changed? The head coach changed. Paul Silas is gone, in comes Mike Dunlap, 55 years of age, who has never coached in the NBA or a major college program. Worrying signs already? Hold on. The Bobcats aren’t planning on doing anything special this season. Just being not as bad as last year and trying to build something out of the devastation is a start. You don’t need a big name for that.
If you ask Larry Brown, it’s not about the head coach anyway. It’s about the owner, the GM and the lack of communication between everyone involved. Brown said that he didn’t get too much time with Rich Cho or Michael Jordan, both very much involved with the team, but apparently without using the head coach. I’m not certain if that’s completely true, but there’s certainly something wrong about the decision making regarding the personnel of the club, sending away almost anyone who was involved with the team’s only playoff season in 2009-2010.
What changed this summer? Michael Kidd-Gilchrist isn’t the rookie to turn a team upside down and score 20 points a game in his rookie season. But he’s a foundation to build upon. Athletic as you can get and a superb defender, Gilchrist was considered as the number 2 most talented player in this draft aside from Anthony Davis, his former Kentucky teammate. He got picked number 2 for that reason.
The Bobcats also added Brendan Haywood from the Dallas Mavericks. He won’t be giving them too many points (7.2 points per game during his career), but there wasn’t an aspect of basketball that the Bobcats didn’t need an upgrade in. Even a mostly defensive center who doesn’t really post up impressive scoring numbers is better than what they had, a team without a single player a playoff team would use as a starter.
At point guard Ramon Sessions has arrived after half a season with the Lakers, averaging 12.7 points and 6.2 in LA. He isn’t a team changer, but once again, it’s an upgrade from D.J. Augustin, while Kemba Walker is more than a decent option to have off the bench, with all of his flaws hopefully being slowly minimized as he enters his second NBA season.
Ben Gordon is the biggest name to arrive, hoping to get a bit more playing time than with the Pistons, averaging 26.9 minutes a night in Detroit. Gerald Henderson led the team in scoring last season with 15.1 points per game, and having an additional player who can score in double figures is another taken-for-granted kind of upgrade for other teams, but not for the league’s worst offense by miles.
Will this make the Bobcats into anything more than the worst in the NBA? Possibly. Not by much. Anything, simply anything will be better than last season, and it’s hard to believe that with the roster that they have now, they won’t be able to make it work. Playoffs? Maybe in two years; it’s not even worth mentioning right now.