28 August 2007

The Southeast Division Outlook, Part Two: Charlotte Bobcats

The so-called Dog Days of Summer are here, which means the NBA season is still an eternity away -- and by 'an eternity', I mean 'two months'. Free-agents have been allowed to sign with teams for over a month, and there aren't any stars left in the pool. In other words, barring trades, most NBA teams have their core group of players in place, which means it's not unreasonable to start evaluating them.

Bearing that in mind, I thought I'd review the moves the Magic and their Southeast rivals made this summer and how those moves change the complexion of the division.

The Division Outlook series will run through this week and in alphabetical order by city. Today's post features the Charlotte Bobcats.

Charlotte Bobcats

Last season: 33-49, fourth in Southeast

  • Forward Jermareo Davidson (via draft)
  • Forward Jared Dudley (via draft)
  • Guard Jason Richardson (via trade with Golden State)
  • coach Sam Vincent (former Dallas assistant)
  • coach Bernie Bickerstaff (moved to front-office)
  • Guard Brevin Knight (waived)
  • Center Jake Voskuhl (via free-agency to Milwaukee)
The Bobcats, with an all-time record of 77-169, have not enjoyed much success since their inception, but this year's team is the best yet and appears to be ready to make a run at respectability. Trading for Jason Richardson, who becomes the Bobcats' first-ever legitimate scoring threat, was an inspired move for two reasons: it shows that the team wants to win now and it shows that the team isn't afraid to spend money to win. And in addition to taking on Richardson's hefty contract, the Bobcats re-signed Gerald Wallace and Matt Carroll to long-term deals. The core is in place.

High-flying Jason Richardson will become Charlotte's go-to scorer this season.

Photo by the Charlotte Bobcats

However, if the Bobcats are to make a playoff run this season, they'll have to overcome some fairly large obstacles. In addition to adjusting to Richardson's presence, the Bobcats would have to rely on some combination of Orlando, Washington, and Miami faltering. They'd also have to hope that Raymond Felton is ready to play big minutes and be a leader; Felton's backup, the oft-injured veteran Brevin Knight, was waived earlier this summer. Then there's the questionable health of power forwards Emeka Okafor and Sean May, who combined to miss 62 games last season.

Summarily, the Bobcats are much-improved and could raise some eyebrows this season. Still skeptical? Check out this post by Brett over at BobcatsPlanet (via TrueHoop), which shows that the Bobcats would have been playoff contenders last season if Gerald Wallace hadn't gotten off to a slow start due to injury. Might the Magic have been on the outside looking in at season's end? And if so, would that arena deal gotten greenlighted earlier this summer? The mind wonders.

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