The Charlotte Bobcats really got me. Perhaps it was in fact only me, but I had hopes that they’d get off to a decent start and maybe even be competitive in 2012-13. Turns out, for the first month anyways, I was right.
The Bobcats were at one point 6-4, and exited November a reasonable 7-8. Since then, they’ve won five measly games. More importantly, they didn’t win a single game in December, and have frequently been flat-out abused on defense.
Yes, the Bobcats enter the All-Star break sitting at a depressing 12-40 and even entered the break with another disappointing blowout loss. It’s only fitting.
But in a season where Bobcats fans are probably saying “it is what it is” at a record rate, there still is a light at the end of the tunnel. After all, Charlotte isn’t about to turn things around anytime soon, which at the very least means a strong likelihood of a high lottery draft pick in the 2013 NBA Draft.
With that said, it’s time for first half grades, and the Bobcats as a team get a resounding F.
Let’s break the members of the Bobcats down individually and see how they grade out through 52 games:
Mike Dunlap (HC) – D+
The hot start can’t be completely forgotten. I almost laughed when I wrote “hot start”. But that’s what a hot start is right now for the Bobcats – getting off to an “around .500″ record. Dunlap is a rookie coach working with very average talent from an overall stand-point. There’s enough here to suggest he can be solid at this level, but from a record stand-point it’s clear he’s been unsuccessful. I still have hope for him, but wouldn’t be shocked at all if he’s one and done in Charlotte, either.
Kemba Walker (PG) – B+
Walker ties for the highest earned mark of any Bobcats player due to grand improvements in scoring, passing and leadership. He fills up the stat sheet and is a big reason why Charlotte is even remotely competitive at times. He still has a ways to go as a pure point guard and defender, but seems to be getting better in both areas on a weekly basis. The future looks bright for the Bobcats at the point guard position.
Ramon Sessions (G) – B+
Sessions keeps arguing that he’s a starter with stellar play off then bench. He’s a elite 6th man for Charlotte and continues to be one of the most versatile and reliable players on the team – if not in the entire league. His shooting percentages are my only complaint.
Gerald Henderson (SG) – C+
Henderson has been held back from blossoming this year, as an injury and inconsistent minutes have robbed him a bit. Despite that, he’s still scoring in double figures nightly for the second year in a row, and has a nicely developed outside game (39% from long range). Henderson is a balanced player with some upside still there, and could be a trade candidate now that he’s in the final year of his rookie deal.
Ben Gordon (SG) – C+
Gordon isn’t as explosive as he used to be, but he was brought to Charlotte to fill a role, and that’s exactly what he does. Gordon is asked to bring offense and outside shooting to the table, and he does so on a consistent basis (12 ppg and 40% from deep). He’s not the best defender or facilitator, but he is what he is and he’s an asset.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (SF) – C+
The rook isn’t a scorer or shooter by any means, but there’s no denying his size, athleticism and versatility, either. Considering the fact that he’s still just 19 years old, there has to be a lot of optimism surrounding MKG.
Byron Mullens (F/C) – B+
Mullens is an inconsistent rebounder, weak defender, and streaky shooter. But for all his flaws, he still has a versatile offensive game and loads of potential. He’s a classic stretch four that should only get better with time. He’s a building block for the Bobcats and it’s nice to have him back and healthy again.
Hakim Warrick (F/C) – C
Warrick is a bit player at this stage of his career and is mostly an energy guy. He had to fill in for a while with Tyrus Thomas on the pine and Byron Mullens injured, and he wasn’t overly impressive. He’s OK for his role, but he lacks size, strength and consistency.
Bismack Biyombo (C) – C+
Biyombo is still a major project on the offensive end, but he’s been as good as advertised as a shot-blocker. He’s still inconsistent on the boards and on defense in general, but he can still hit the glass extremely well at times and can really change games with his shot-altering and blocking abilities. He’s still young, but he just needs to get more consistent. Any semblance of an offensive game would be nice, but I wouldn’t bank on it.
Brendan Haywood (C) – C-
Haywood is just a veteran big at this point and is probably going to be chased by contending teams when trade rumors really start heating up. He still has good size and experience, but just isn’t overly impressive in anything he does. As part of one of the worst defensive front courts in the league, Haywood has left some to be desired on the defensive end.
Tyrus Thomas (F) – D-
Thomas still has talent but for all intents and purposes has been a total bust and is definitely on the trading block. It’s not completely his fault, but it’s impossible to give him a good grade with his current role.
Jeffrey Taylor (G/F) – C
Taylor is a decent rookie with nice size and solid percentages across the board. He’s no freak and doesn’t have a ton of natural talent or athleticism, but he can stretch the court and has good fundamentals. With that said, he probably never should have been starting earlier this year, and may not have had Gerald Henderson been healthy the whole time. It’s debatable if he should even be in the league, but he hasn’t been bad at all for the Bobcats.
Reggie Williams (G/F) – C
Williams is a strict scorer who brings a little versatility to the table. He just hasn’t really been needed due to MKG starting and guys like Ramon Sessions and Ben Gordon providing consistent offense off the bench. I’m a little surprised rookie Jeffrey Taylor has gotten way more run than him, though.
Jeff Adrien (F) – C-
Adrien is an under-sized big man with a game that lacks range or versatility. He’s been an OK role player, but isn’t asked to do a ton and probably couldn’t even if he was forced into a huge role.
No grades above B+ were given out, and that only makes sense when you’ve won 12 out of 52 games. Charlotte should be ashamed of themselves, but at the same time there are enough bright spots on the team to offer hope for the future. If Kemba Walker, Byron Mullens and MKG can continue to improve and the Bobcats can land a top-five pick in this year’s draft, things could quickly be looking up in 2014. Maybe.