Michael Jordan stated Friday that “in no way would the Bobcats tank the season.” He finished by claiming that “there are no guarantees in any draft pick.” Seems to be strong words about a team that has only appeared in the playoffs once since the beginning of the franchise.
Many teams have made moves indicating they are looking forward to the highly anticipated 2014 NBA Draft. This offseason, the 76ers practically cleared house and made trades to pick up draft picks and young stars. While many think this was a smart move, Charlotte has made it clear that this is not their strategy.
The 2014 draft is regarded as the best draft since 2003, which consisted of LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh. Many teams see players like Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker as franchise changing players and are willing to tank a season for a better chance at them. However, Charlotte is not like most franchises and have a owner who refuses to roll over for anybody.
As it should be.
The Bobcats have made moves this past summer to improve as much as they can. “The goal is to put the best team possible out there”, Charlotte’s press release stated. The signing of Al Jefferson during free agency backs this statement and projects the Bobcats to improve greatly this season.
The projected starting lineup for Charlotte this season is Kemba Walker, Gerald Henderson, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Josh McRoberts, and Al Jefferson. The development of Walker, Henderson, and Kidd-Gilchrist last season was a big step for them and the addition of Cody Zeller added some depth. Charlotte also hired Mark Price to work with their young stars on their shooting technique. With all of this being said, the Bobcats have showed no signs of letting this season waste away.
Kemba Walker had a break out season last year and established himself as a top-10 point guard in the league. He is capable of scoring 40 points in a game, yet also distributing the ball to his teammates. He has worked on his jump shot and been able to assert himself as a viable 3-point option. Walker, only entering his third season, has the potential to produce an All-Star year and lead the Bobcats to their second playoff appearance.
The addition of Al Jefferson is a major upgrade from a year ago. Last year, Charlotte struggled to score points down low, which allowed teams to overcompensate their defensive pressure on the perimeter. This year the Bobcats signed Jefferson and drafted Cody Zeller to pick up the slack. While Jefferson struggles on the defensive end, he is still a top ten player at his respective position. There are not many centers who can score as easily as Jefferson. Something the Bobcats will capitalize on throughout this season.
With Walker and Jefferson leading the squad, one question seems to linger – how good are the Bobcats going to be? The pieces may be falling into place for Michael Jordan, as he has put together a promising team. Charlotte is simply missing another key piece to bring themselves in conversation as a legit playoff contender. If Henderson or Kidd-Gilchrist can step up and improve their game, then the Bobcats will be a playoff team this season.
Missing playoffs would guarantee the Bobcats a lottery pick in a stacked 2014 NBA draft. However, despite this, Jordan would quickly tell you, that making playoffs would be better than another top 14 pick. He would also mention that making playoffs would be better than finishing 21-61 like they did last year.
Whether the Bobcats finish in the top half of the Eastern Conference or they barely win 20 games, Jordan is finally putting the pieces together to develop a franchise. Charlotte fans should be happy that Jordan is not tanking this season and is being aggressive with who he signs. It means he cares and that he wants to win. It means that no matter how bad it gets this year, Charlotte will not let up. And it means that the Bobcats are heading in the right direction.
Be excited Charlotte fans, Jordan is doing things the right way.