2012-13 CHARLOTTE BOBCATS SEASON PREVIEW
Even in the midst of a strike-shortened 2011-12 NBA season, the Bobcats finished with the worst winning percentage in NBA history, closing the season with a 7-59 record. While the team certainly would like to forget about their misfortunes on the court, the season forced the front office to consider major changes, including the hire of new head coach Mike Dunlap. The team is in the midst of a major rebuilding project, but has made a series of big moves over the offseason that could help the squad climb out of the basement in the Eastern Conference and become a surprise playoff contender during the 2012-13 campaign.
The Bobcats pursued a large-scale purge of their roster entering the offseason, unloading the contract of Corey Magette and shipping off D.J. Augustin in a trade and later signing Ramon Sessions as his replacement. The team also added Ben Gordon in a trade, which should significantly change their scoring attack and journeyman center Brendan Haywood, who should solidify the depth at the position. In the draft, the Bobcats have high hopes for the No. 2 pick out of Kentucky, forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who should become a fixture in the team's offense. The team also secured great value in the late first round with the selection of another small forward in Jeffrey Taylor, who should improve the team's flexibility on the wing and shooting guard positions..
In regards to the rest of the roster, the team is relying heavily on point guard Kemba Walker to get the offense up and moving, as well as Ramon Sessions to spell him throughout games. Ben Gordon provides a massive improvement to the shooting guard position, while Kidd-Gilchrist is expected to slide into the starting small forward spot. At power forward, Byron Mullens provides great size for the position, and the depth behind him is solid with Hakim Warrick and Reggie Williams. At center, the free agent pickup of Brendan Haywood should pay dividends, and the team also boasts solid backups in Bismack Biyombo and DeSagana Diop.
After a season like the one the Bobcats endured last year, the team has nowhere to go but up to get back to respectability in the Eastern Conference. The team has laid the groundwork for a fast-paced scoring attack with stout defense, so only time will tell if the Bobcats' mix of talented young players and seasoned veterans can gel into a cohesive unit that other teams can rightly fear.
CHARLOTTE BOBCATS FRANCHISE FACTS:
Location: Charlotte, North Carolina
Stadium: Time Warner Cable Arena
Conference: Eastern Conference
Division: Southeast Division
Dancers: Lady Cats
Notable Players: Emeka Okafor
Charlotte Bobcats Playoff tickets
Charlotte Bobcats Season Preview History
CHARLOTTE BOBCATS EXPERIENCE:
Although dedicated Charlotte Hornets fans might be disappointed by the franchise's move to New Orleans, the expansion team that followed shortly after the deal might just grow into one of the most successful in the Southeast Division. The Bobcats were officially established in 2004, exactly two seasons after the Hornets relocated. Although the new team is still in its early years, it managed to qualify for postseason play in 2010 and came close the following year.
After the departure of the Hornets, the NBA promised to fill the void, and many ownership groups rushed to the opportunity, creating fierce competition for the top bid. Even a group led by Larry Bird made an offer. However, a group led by Black Entertainment Television founder Robert Johnson was awarded ownership rights to the franchise. This move actually made him the first African American majority owner in U.S. professional sports. Hip hop artist Nelly became a co-owner of the new Charlotte team. One of the most popular decisions that the new ownership made was the naming of the team, which goes right along with the feline-themed moniker of the NFL's Charlotte Panthers.
The Bobcats' expansion draft occurred on June 22, 2004, bringing valuable players like Predrag Drobnjak and Gerald Wallace into the fold. Although the team got off to a somewhat shaky start in its first few games, Charlotte residents were happy when the Bobcats took a point lead to defeat the New Orleans Hornets in overtime of a December game during its inaugural season.
After undergoing several changes over the next few years, the primary focus of Bobcats owners was coaching. Sam Vincent was hired in the 2007 offseason, resulting in a complete change of management. After a horrible season, the team's struggles with the new coach contributed to the hiring of Larry Brown. Since this decision was made, the team showed steady improvement.
In the 2009 draft, the Bobcats obtained Gerald Henderson from Duke, as well as seasoned NBA players like Tyson Chandler and Acie Law. More good news came in 2010 when Robert Johnson decided to sell the team to basketball legend Michael Jordan, who had been a part of the ownership group for four years and is native to North Carolina. Fans have a new reason to become enthusiastic about the franchise, paving the way for a healthy future for the Bobcats.
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