The Charlotte Bobcats, who have been searching for top-level help inside the paint for the last couple of years, finally addressed the position by signing former Utah Jazz center Al Jefferson. And just like that, what was once an embarrassing weakness has now become an arguable strength for the Charlotte Bobcats.
Jefferson on his own could probably make the Bobcats worlds better down low, but add the signing of Jefferson with the selection of balanced big man Cody Zeller in the 2013 NBA Draft, and suddenly a once inept inside game for the Bobcats could be bordering on elite.
The best part is, Charlotte has youth on their side with their two new bigs, too, as Jefferson is only 28 and very much in his prime, and Zeller is a rook with a good amount of potential.
More importantly, both players have the size and athleticism to play the four or the five for the Bobcats, while Jefferson offers more toughness and better defensive ability.
But how they’ll exactly fit together and make a difference isn’t all that important right now. It’s still early in the game, after all. What does matter, though, is that the Bobcats are now very much on the right path.
Bismack Biyombo is no longer a young, raw talent the Bobcats desperately need to develop quickly. No, instead, he’s one heck of a backup center who can come in as part of a rotation and focus solely on what he excels at – rebounding and blocking shots.
And that lack of toughness inside? Well, consider that a thing of the past. Little to no scoring on the blocks? Check that problem off the list, too, fine sir, as Jefferson’s 17-20 points per game give Charlotte a legit low-post presence who can also give you a consistent spot-up jumper from mid-range.
And while Zeller is inexperienced and unproven, his smooth offensive game and solid potential combine to give the Bobcats a low post duo with a fairly high ceiling when combined.
But that’s just the bigs.
Now Charlotte has two guys they can lean on and a nice rotational piece to work with in the paint. Once you add in a game-changing point guard in Kemba Walker, a quality, versatile utility guard like Ramon Sessions and an athletic, potential ridden wing like Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, you suddenly have a team worth watching.
You suddenly, dare I say it, have a Bobcats team that just might be a playoff contender.
That looks a little crazy at first glance, but if you consider all of the pieces, it’s not impossible.
The Bobcats have gotten ridiculously better in their low post game on both ends in the past week. Such huge upgrades will only make their rotation and bench that much stronger in that department, as well.
Elsewhere, they have one of the best scoring point guards in the league, as well as a clutch performer in Walker. Beyond him, they have quality shooters in Gerald Henderson, Ben Gordon and Ramon Sessions, who also fills in as a terrific backup point guard and overall combo guard.
If MKG can take his game to the next level, the ascension from completely awful to suddenly decent goes even faster. But even with MKG just relying on his athleticism and playing a softer role, this could still be a team that is a hard out on a nightly basis.
With Zeller’s ability to play the four, the Bobcats could roll into 2013 (depending on who they keep or let go) with a starting lineup of Walker, Henderson, MKG, Zeller and Jefferson. Not only is that the most athletic starting five they’ve had since the days of Gerald Wallace and Ramond Felton, but it’d also be the most balanced.
They’d be smart to hold onto versatile stretch four Josh McRoberts, too, as he’d be a perfect complement to Zeller, as well as his top backup.
Overall, this is a vastly improved Bobcats team on paper, but more improvement needs to come before they’re a playoff contender. The good news is, at this moment the Bobcats no longer look like a dead in the water cellar dweller and appear to be on the right track to competing at a high level on a regular basis again.