First I’ll admit, I was wrong. I knew we would be better than last season, of course, but in no way did I think we would come out of the gate like Seabiscuit aiming for the triple crown. I’m surprised, but in a good way and that’s always a good thing.
I agree that anyone in their right mind that watches sports would ask, how can the worst team in their sport one season, be seen as a playoff contender the very next? If that person is you, I am here to answer that very question.
First remember, last season is over and today is a new day. With a new Coach, that seems to have his players full attention and cooperation, we are surely heading in a new direction. Yes, we just had a season we all want to forget, but that’s part of the business. We drafted well, we also traded and signed good free agents during the off season, and now we have some new quality pieces to add to our rebuilding puzzle. (We are still trading players after the season has started and I can’t remember the last time that has happened.) Is the puzzle complete yet? No it’s not, but I don’t think we have as many key pieces missing as some of you might. If I had to give a #, I’d say we are only about 2 pieces away from being a team that could possibly make the playoffs and get out of the first round. Here’s some key reasons why…
- Kemba Walker – This kid is for real. I saw some people saying he was a bad draft pick last season, but I didn’t. I always said, “I see some Iverson in him, he just needs to be UNLEASHED”. He just has heart, and what I like to call the ‘IT” factor. Just like he did against the Timberwolves on the road, he will help us close games. When you get a triple double as a rookie, score 30+ in your home opener, then hit a game winner on the road a few games later, you are a keeper!
- Gillie the Kidd – I don’t want to sound like a broken record but… This kid is for real! I was happy we drafted MKG, but honestly, I didn’t know how quick he would blossom into the player he is already starting to become right before our eyes. Does his jumper need work? Yes, but so did Hendo’s when he came in the league, and he has a pretty decent jumper now. In other words, a jumper is repairable, but sometimes a “motor” or “heart” is not. Luckily after that 25pt 12reb 2blk 1stl game to help us get our very first win against the Dallas Mavs, it’s pretty obvious that Gillies motor and heart is just fine.
- Gerald Henderson – I just had a conversation on FB about Henderson this morning. Someone posted last night, and I quote “Henderson is kind of whack to me”. My response was and I quote “He came into the league a top defender and dunker. He now has developed a jumper. He can hit 3′s and he’s dangerous in the paint. He’s also a better shot blocker than a lot of small forwards and he’s a 2 guard. He’s part of the reason Wallace got traded. He can do what Wallace can, and he’s shorter, younger, and cheaper. (For now…) Folks, Henderson did not get selected to be the Captain for no reason. Usually, you are the best player on the roster to be given that privilege. As good as Gillie and Kemba have looked so far, if you let them play 1 on 1 against Henderson, I think Henderson will come out the victor. He is ready.
- Bench Mob – It’s very hard to win in the NBA without a very good bench. In my opinion, we have just that. Two of our best closers are actually on the bench, Sessions and Gordon so how could this not be true? We just picked up Hakim Warrick who clearly will help us more than Matt Carrol could have so the bench is only getting stronger. Members of our Bench Mob will win games for us just like Sessions did a few games ago. They will be fun to watch.
If you look at the standings, we are 4/4 .500 and the #8 seed. We have ATL and IND on our coat tails and I think we will be battling for the 8th seed all season. I think our main threat is IND because they are missing Granger, but remember, we are missing Henderson. Regardless, I see the Bobcats slipping into the playoffs this season.
Opening an NBA season with a winning record is not easy to do. (If you don’t believe me, ask the LA Lakers.) Usually, the top teams are winning early and everyone else has to get it going. We might not be considered a top team yet, but we clearly have something going. Also, winning is addictive and key young players are starting to see what it feels like to win close games and have thousands of NBA fans chearing for them, instead of heckling and laughing at them every game. I don’t think the players in Charlotte are ready to go back down that long dark road again. Honestly, after watching only 7 wins all last season, I don’t think the fans are ready to either.