The Bobcats have never been a team with great expectations in their franchise history. With quite a few questionable roster moves and draft picks made by front office personnel, there has only been one season in Charlotte that has lead to the playoffs. With the moves made this offseason that could be changing in the future. Bringing in two quality post players like Al Jefferson from Utah and Cody Zeller out of Indiana University, the Bobcats are realizing that basketball should be played from the inside out. The talent already in Charlotte has given some hope for the future in college basketball holy land, but these acquisitions could help lead the professional organization in town down a road they have rarely ever seen.
In Jefferson the Bobcats are getting one of the best offensive post players in the league right now. His big frame and solid build help him keep his position on the block and allow him to make any move. He has decent range on his jumper, although he is somewhat limited in this facet. He will be counted on to bring points in the paint to a team that was in dire of it last year. With Byron Mullens as their most consistent option at the center position, a player that likes to drift out to the three point line rather than mix it up inside, they did not get great production in this area of their offense ranking just 24th in the league. Even though this may account for more than just points from big men, it shows that this was lacking in Charlotte. He may be a liability defensively but he is a more than capable rebounder and with very good post defenders like Brendon Haywood and Bismack Biyombo already on the roster, his limitations can be hidden. Zeller is a different kind of animal for the Bobcats; they have never had a player quite like him in their history. His effort on both ends of the floor is top notch, with an incredible ability to get down the floor on the offensive end for alley oops and lay-ups including an ability to handle the ball on the break himself at times and not get out of control. On the defensive end he could get bullied at times on the block last year and he needs to put some weight on his frame, even with his incredible physique. However, with the ability to focus completely on basketball and not worry about going to class he will have plenty of time to do just that. What makes Zeller so effective is how well rounded he is as a player. While there have been questions about his ability to stretch out and shoot the jumper consistently and effectively, if you have watched him in high school or at the various skill camps he has attended you should know that he has that ability. It wasn’t needed at Indiana because they had a stretch four in Christian Watford.
With the growth of the young talent already on the depth chart in Charlotte and these acquisitions the Bobcats have a shot at competing for the eighth playoff spot in the East. However if they are to get into this conversation players like Kemba Walker, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Biyombo will have to prove that they have filled the gaps in their games. Walker needs to become that distributor that every team relies upon to get open players the ball in the right position to score. While he was the star attraction on the Connecticut team that won the National Championship in 2011, he still has to adjust to being the type of player that can defer to others when that is needed. With Zeller and Jefferson in town they finally have some big guys to give the ball in the post. Kidd-Gilchrist is a very good perimeter defender for the Bobcats. His length and athleticism give opposing players fits, leading to steals and blocks. The offensive end is a different story as of right now. While he is a very good catch and finish player, his jump shot really leaves something to be desired. It isn’t quite as herky-jerky as it was at Kentucky, but if he is going to become a capable offensive player in the league he will need to prove that he has fixed this glaring weakness. Biyombo is another good defensive player for the Bobcats, this time in the post. He is a tenacious rebounder and shot blocker. However he could use an offensive game as well, as he was mostly limited to put backs and finishing lobs.
In the end, the Bobcats will most likely finish outside the top eight of the Eastern Conference. The questions on the roster, without much quality depth, and a first time head coach on the bench will lead to some growing pains for the franchise. However, it’s not all bad news for fans. The work the front office has put into the roster will help show the promise for the future that this team has. With a few more free agent acquisitions and good drafts, they will be a team to look out for in 3-5 years.