Our next team in need of covering is Charlotte. Don’t laugh, I’m well aware that over the past two seasons they have been statistically and literally the worst teams in the league. Hell, I’m damn well aware that last season they were literally the worst team… EVER. However, they have some nice pieces and they won’t be this bad forever… I hope.
Look, Michael Kidd Gilchrist hasn’t played great this season – not even close to the level people expected him to play at. What did you really expect though? He was never supposed to score at this level he’s supposed to be a lockdown defender and he has done that thus far. He’s athletic, and he’s a glue guy that Charlotte luckily won’t have to pay too much to once his rookie deal is up. MKG will be a great defender and a superb 2/3 if you’re looking for someone along the lines of Thabo Sefolosha or Tony Allen.
Kemba Walker – only in his second year in the league, has a case for Most Improved Player this season. All major statistical categories are up this season including points per game, which he is averaging 17.5 a game – a 5 point increase on last season. He is averaging 5.6 assists as opposed to 4.4. He is grabbing 2 steals a game rather than 1 and he’s shooting a career high in both fg% and 3 point % with 42% and 32% respectively. As you can clearly see he is an improving player bound to be an all-star in a few years. So if I’m Charlotte I hang my hat on knowing that my past big time draft picks were not busts.
I like Kemba’s backup as well. Ramon Sessions was having a great year off the bench before suffering a sprained MCL on March 7th in a loss against the Nets. He was averaging a career high in points with 14 a game and was dishing 4 assists per game as well. So if I’m Charlotte I’ll hang my hat on my backup point guard of the future as well. Now also remember that those three guys are all very cheap, Sessions is due 10 million through 2013-2014, MKG is due 9.4 million through 2013-2014 with a 2 yr team option and Kemba who is a restricted free agent this summer has a 2yr team option as well through 2014-2015.
The next guy I like on Charlottes roster is as a backup big for the future and a starting center for now… He is…. TADA! Byron Mullens. I’d like to just show you a quick snippet of something my favorite sports writer Bill Simmons wrote regarding Byron Mullens.
Player A: 29.2 MPG, 13.0 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 40% FG, 31% 3FG, 11.4 PER.
Player B: 29.7 MPG, 12.0 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 39% FG, 32% 3FG, 12.4 PER.
Player A is Bargnani. Player B is Byron Mullens.
Now interpret this however you like, Andrea Bargnani has lost his touch and is overpaid or Byron Mullens could be the cheapest most effective center in the league. He’s getting paid 2.25 million this year while Bargnani is due 33 million through 2014-15. Just make sure Byron doesn’t see this or else he’ll start making weird phone calls to MJ in the middle of the night or show up at his doorstep demanding a raise. Byron is 23 and is a restricted free agent this summer. He’ll be offered the 3.3 million dollar qualifying extension.
I also love Gerald Henderson on this team, he’s a high caliber starting two guard who is averaging 18 points a game on about 47% shooting from the field since the all-star break. Apparently, he and Jordan have a very close relationship and Jordan would love to keep him in Charlotte for the future. I bet Charlotte fans would too, he’s a natural born scorer who has exploded recently with three 30 point games in March. He’s a restricted free agent this summer who hopefully for Jordan accepts the qualifying offer of 4.3 million and then signs an extension for the future. Or he might do what any sensible basketball player would do; get the hell away from Charlotte and go somewhere where you’re not the laughing stock of the NBA. Maybe he’ll go to a good team and get televised nationally more often and have a better chance of winning a championship: Be Lebron essentially. Or he’ll stay true to Jordan and stick it out as the main guy in Charlotte.
Other than those 5 players I’ve just mentioned the whole Bobcats roster is essentially crap. They just have bad players and guys with atrocious contracts. Lucky for them they’re in a position this summer where they can shed a lot of that dead weight. Desagna Diop is an expiring contract and they’ll no longer have to pay his ass anymore. Do you know that they paid him 7.4 million dollars this year to play 10 minutes a game… in only 22 games this season?! Another contract they’re going to want to shed is Tyrus Thomas’ contract. He is due 26 million dollars through 2014-15. So I pray to god that Michael Jordan amnesties him without consideration. Along with those two, Ben Gordon is another disgustingly overpaid specimen wearing a Bobcats uniform. He is getting paid 12.4 million this season for career lows across the board: 11.9 points a game, 2 assists, 1.9 rebounds on 41% shooting from the field. He is also causing turmoil within the locker room. Right before the trade deadline he allegedly didn’t listen to coach Dunlap and was, “beyond disrespectful,” in practice, which led them to push a Gordon for Humphries trade around deadline time. Nothing went through but you can bet that Gordon won’t pick up his player option this summer with not only the worst team in the league but a team that doesn’t want him. Now, how sad is that? When the worst team ever doesn’t even want you, you know somethings wrong with your approach to basketball.
Now if that all works as planned and they let Josh McRoberts and Reggie Williams go they will have about 30 million in cap space this summer to do as they please. How they spend that money and use that space is up to them but I think it depends on what they do with their pick. With a top 3 pick they’re obviously going to want to address their needs as a team. They need to boost their front court and build a bench. I think the front-court can be addressed through the draft with the help of Noel, Zeller or even an Alex Len. Then during free agency they can start building a bench. Realistically, not many max-contract type of guys are going to want to come to Charlotte so rather force a rookie to come and get lower profile guys as role players. They do however, have room this offseason for one max contract and then another big contract just slightly less. So hypothetically, a Paul Millsap and a Dwight Howard.
Anyway, if you look past the statistics, the memes, and the bad press that Charlotte continues to get, you’ll see they have some nice pieces and a bright future.