By Ed Niser
Team Name: Charlotte Bobcats
Last Season’s Record: 44-38 (7th seed NBA Playoffs)
Key Losses: Tyson Chandler,Alex Ajinca and Raymond Felton
Key Additions: Matt Carroll, Eduardo Najera, Shaun Livingston, Sherron Collins, Kwame Brown,Dominic McGuire.
What Significant moves were made this offseason?
The Bobcats front office was hustling and bustling throughout the offseason with trades that sent Tyson Chandler and Alexis Ajinca to Dallas in exchange for small forward Eduardo Najera and shooting guard Matt Carroll. Erick Dampier was originally included in the deal, but the Bobcats exercised their right to relieve themselves of the hefty $13 million the veteran was owed.
UNC alum Raymond Felton inked a $15.3 million contract with the New York Knicks leaving a bad taste in the mouths of the Charlotte faithful.
Michael Jordan seems to be a proponent of second chances as he has made additions that would lead most fans to scratch their heads. Matt Carroll, for instance, played for the Bobcats in 2005 and exhibited a knack for the three-ball connecting with approximately 40 percent of his shots in his 4 seasons in Charlotte. Carroll’s scoring average just eclipses seven points at 7.1 ppg. Najera brings a defensive skill set to the Queen City and a knack for crashing the boards.
Shaun Livingston looks to breathe new life into his career following a tough arduous journey back into professional basketball following the horrific knee injury he suffered as a member of the Los Angeles Clippers against the Charlotte Bobcats in 2007.
In his six injury-shortened NBA Seasons has averaged just over seven points and three rebounds per game. He provides the Bobcats with much needed depth at the point guard position following the loss of Felton.
2010 appears to be the year of the point guard, as the Bobcats now have three listed on their roster, as the roster includes Livingston, D.J Augustin and Sherron Collins. Collins is a rookie out of the University of Kansas where he ranks number one in consecutive freethrows made, as well as being a first team All-American selection in his senior season. Collins averaged 15.9 points a game for the Jayhawks. Expect the Bobcats to employ a point guard by committee this season with the limited endurance of Livingston’s knee.
Despite the limitations of newly acquired Bobcats big man Kwame Brown, he still may be a force to be reckoned with once the high ankle sprain heals. Brown injured the ankle in a pickup game prior to the start of training camp. The former first overall draft pick in 2001 has been bitten by the injury bug multiple times in his career. Luckily for the Bobcats, the injury came before training camp and will only keep the seven-footer out until November.
What are the team’s strengths?
The Bobcats possess a slew of underestimated talent in the likes of Shaun Livingston and Dominic McGuire, just to name a couple. Livingston, if the knee can stay healthy, will be a solid piece to the puzzle at the point guard slot for Charlotte. Expect it to be a point guard by committee scenario with D.J. Augustin, Livingston, Javarris Crittenton and Collins. Crittenton was invited to Bobcats training camp and is expected to make the team.
The bottom line is the Bobcats are a young team destined to make the playoffs following the disappointing end to last season at the hands of the Orlando Magic in the first round. While the Bobcats made their first playoff appearance, they were swept in four games which inevitably left a bad taste in their mouths coming into the 2010-2011 season.
What are the team’s biggest weaknesses?
Charlotte failed to add any high profile players in the off season, instead the Bobcats office chose to take the economic route and sign players who have had careers plagued by injuries. The Bobcats neglected to add another scorer on their squad.
The biggest question mark for this team will be at the point guard position following the offseason departure of Raymond Felton to the New York Knicks, while the Bobcats have depth at the point guard position, it is going to be a point guard by committee situation in Charlotte until a worthy every day starter is determined.
What are the goals for the upcoming season?
Charlotte made the playoffs for the first time in their young history, but they were swept by the Orlando Magic in four games.
Gerald Wallace, when interviewed at media day, said the team’s goals best “Our main goal right now is the playoffs and to go deep into the playoffs”.
The Bobcats just need to mesh as a cohesive unit, with all the new faces added to the roster this offseason.
My prediction is that the Bobcats will make the playoffs once again, but don’t expect them to gain a high seed playing in the tumultuous Southeastern Division which is also home to the big three in Miami. Charlotte will finish above .500 with 48-34 record which is four games better than last season.
If the newly acquired young talent can stay healthy, Charlotte will make shockwaves in the Southeastern Division this season.