Now that the Charlotte Bobcats are officially in the offseason, it’s time to grade them. Over the next month, I’ll be giving every player and select non-players their grades for the season. But I’ll start with a general report card for the entire team. Enjoy!
When you can turn an aging, injured shooting guard on an expiring contract (Raja Bell) and a sorely overpaid, worthless, shooter playing power forward (Vladimir Radmonovic) into a Top 10 shooting guard (Stephen Jackson) and another tradeable asset (Acie Law IV), you automatically had an above average season. But Michael Jordan, Rod Higgins, and Larry Brown didn’t stop there. In the offseason, they signed Flip Murray to be a serviceable 6th man for just under $2 million. In essence, a bargain. But he wasn’t the only bargain. Stephen Graham, who filled as a starter 8 times, was signed for the league minimum. Not too shabby. The Bobcats also picked up Gerald Henderson and Derrick Brown in the draft. While neither received much playing time, both showed flashes of their talent in limited minutes. When they received over 20 minutes in a game, Henderson averaged 11 points, Brown 9.7 points. But not even a solid draft, free agency, and a great trade to start the year would make the front office lazy. At the trade deadline, they picked up Theo Ratliff for what amounts to nothing and Tyrus Thomas came in for Murray, Law, and a protected 1st. Ratliff started 26 of his 28 games in a Bobcats uniform, and his 1.5 blocks per game in Charlotte helped propel the team to it’s first playoff birth. While the result of the Thomas trade has yet to be discovered, he showed stretches of brilliance on the road to the postseason. Not to mention, Bob Johnson sold the team to Michael Jordan. All in all, a great year in the front office
Final Grade: A
Obviously, if Larry Brown is coaching your team, you’ve got a chance to make some noise. Brown made good on that reputation this past season, turning Gerald Wallace into an All-Star and rebounding machine, keeping Stephen Jackson moderately in check, and improving just about everyone one the roster. And when Brown was ejected (twice in the regular season and once in the preseason), Lead Assistant Dave Hanners capably stepped up. The reason I bring up Hanners is because, unlike Coach Brown, Coach Hanners is aware that there are players sitting next to him who are able to play more than thirty seconds per game. That’s one of Larry’s weaknesses, and it showed. Gerald Wallace and Stephen Jackson were among the league leaders in minutes, while rookies Gerald Henderson and Derrick Brown played a COMBINED 890 minutes. That’s 60% of DeJaun Blair’s playing time. And need I remind you Blair went in the second round (just a few picks before Brown, but well after Henderson, a lottery pick) and was Tim Duncan’s backup? They received just 40% of Jonas Jerebko’s playing time, and he was both suspended for a game and taken after Blair. But, despite his rotation shortcomings, Larry did coach his way to a team record 44 wins. So, everything combined, a solid season for the journeyman coach.
Final Grade: B+
While this is a very broad grade, and there are underperformers and overperformers, in the end it’s the total sum of how your team plays that matters. While Gerald Wallace played better than just about anyone expected, he was countered by a lazy season from Boris Diaw. Talk all you want about how much Nazr Mohammed improved, but he was countered by the oft-injured Tyson Chandler, who had a horrible start to the season, and Theo Ratliff’s horrific showing in the playoffs. Raymond Felton may have skyrocketed his shooting percentages, but DJ Augustin’s plummeted. While Stephen Jackson stepped in and led the team in scoring, it took heaven and earth moving for 2008 first round pick Alexis Ajinca to even make the active roster. Larry Hughes joined the team to replace Murray, but somehow had a lower shooting percentage (and lower True Shooting for the stat geeks) than Murray, who had the green light from Coach Brown. While Tyrus Thomas had a huge impact on the team’s defense, he actually had a negative win shares on offense. So, if you look deeply, the team was a little bit above average, and it showed in their .536 winning percentage.
Final Grade: C+
Well, when you’re the only team to get swept, there’s not much good. But the Charlotte community showed up en masse for both of the team’s home games, and enjoyed booing JJ Redick. But outside of that and Tyrus Thomas’ impressive showing, there wasn’t much to like. The Bobcats only really contended in Game 3, and poor decision making doomed them then. A poor showing, and the better team won quickly.
Final Grade: D
Charlotte Bobcats 2009-2010 Season Final Grade: B+
The team accomplished its goal of making the playoffs, but now they have to show it wasn’t a fluke.