Heading in to this NBA season, nobody was really sure what
to expect in the League. We knew the powerhouse teams, and the teams that might
not fare well against those teams. What we didn't know was how the lockout
would affect team performance. The wear and tear of an 82 game season is
enough, but to have a compacted schedule, where games are on top of each other,
makes it extremely difficult on the bodies of the athletes.
Our Bobcats had completely overturned their roster; trading away Gerald Wallace
at last years trade deadline, and then Stephen Jackson, our leading scorer, on
the night of the NBA draft. The goal was to elude mediocrity, and head straight
to the bottom of the barrel. The thinking was that being a low seed playoff
team, and not being a threat to win the championship was doing more harm than
good. Being in the playoffs is great for building fans, but it hurts teams that
are trying to find an identity in the league. It is difficult to win a
championship without a superstar. Our Bobcats have never had the luxury of
having a superstar, and the closest we have came to having one was Gerald
Wallace, who made one All-Star appearance while playing for the Bobcats.
The draft for us was confusing. We drafted Bismack Biyombo, a 6'9" power
forward, although he was used at center for us. Biyombo was relatively unknown
until his appearance at the Nike Hoops Summit, where he recorded a triple
double. Biyombo shot up the draft boards and was taken with the seventh overall
pick in the draft by our Bobcats. We didn't own the seventh pick, until we
traded Stephen Jackson, Shaun Livingston and our 19th pick to the Milwaukee
Bucks in exchange for Corey Maggette and the 7th pick. Then two picks later,
with our 9th pick, we selected Kemba Walker, the undersized point guard, who
was coming straight off a National Championship with the UConn Huskies. Walker
was an explosive scorer in college, seemingly getting any shot he wanted. The
question was not whether or not he was talented enough to be in the NBA, the
question was whether or not his height, being only 6'0" tall, would limit
With the lockout stripping away the Summer League games, the two rookies would
have to adjust to the NBA during the season. The lockout hurt many aspects
of the season, but it was extremely tough on rookies who had to dive head first
into NBA action.
Once the season started, even the casual fan could tell that it was going to be
a long and bumpy ride for our Bobcats. We didn't have a "go-to" scorer on this
team, and we lacked a defensive identity. Teams were able to score at will in
the paint against the Bobcats, and teams could get open shots on the perimeter
whenever they wanted. Opponents' ball movement was our Achilles heel, as we
were unable to effectively rotate on defense.
A commentator for one of the opposing teams once said that the Bobcats didn't
have a true NBA starter on our team. I scoffed at the idea to begin with, and
then as the season grew on I began to believe those words. Our most effective
offensive player was Gerald Henderson, who happens to be our best on ball
defender. Our bench was nothing to brag about, as our most effective bench
player was Byron Mullens, a center with a smooth shot, who we acquired from the
Oklahoma City Thunder.
Injuries did not help the Bobcats chances of winning games this year. Key
players such as D.J Augustin missed games due to injuries. We didn't have much
talent on the team to begin with, and losing those two players for a number of
games only hurt worse.
The season grew on, and the losses began to pile up like papers on a desk. We
ended the season a 23 game losing streak, which was jokingly said to be a
tribute to our owner, Michael Jordan, who famously wore number 23 throughout
his career. The Bobcats finished the season with the lowest winning percentage
in the history of the NBA, and had a record of 7-59.
The promising factor in all of this is that we have the best odds of getting
the top overall pick in this year's draft. The draft is extremely deep with
talent. We can get no worse than the fourth overall pick. No matter what pick
we get, we will land a great player that can be a building block, and possibly
the foundation of this team for years to come.