The 2013-14 NBA Season gets cranked-up here in a couple of weeks. The Bobcats made a series of moves that made their team much better than it has been in the last few seasons.
Here is a quick recap of the major events that went down over the Summer:
1) Bobcats fired Head Coach Mike Dunlap and hired Steve Clifford
It was evident that Dunlap wasn’t going to cut it early on in his tenure, but credit the Bobcats for both riding out the entire season and realizing that he wasn’t going to get it done. The Bobcats weren’t historically futile last season (they weren’t even last in the NBA, technically), but it was clear that Dunlap wasn’t the coach that was going to help this young roster improve. Enter Steve Clifford, a long-time assistant of the Van Gundys and one of the most well-respected assistant coaches in the league. Along with Clifford, the Bobcats hired Patrick Ewing, Mark Price, Bob Beyer and Bob Weiss to assemble the most talented coaching staff in Charlotte basketball history. If they aren’t markedly improved this season simply from the coaching staff, then there is something seriously wrong here.
2) Bobcats signed C Al Jefferson
The Bobcats took some of that gigantic pot of cash they’d been accumulating and used it on Al Jefferson, a legitimate center and low-post scorer that instantly becomes the best player to ever suit up in a Bobcats uniform. Jefferson, along with the aforementioned Ewing, will be instrumental in tutoring former lottery pick Bismack Biyombo. Known as an offensive-only player, Jefferson has acknowledged that he has to get better on the defensive end, however, there is no doubt that Charlotte will be much better scoring from the low post this season.
3) Bobcats re-signed G Gerald Henderson and PF Josh McRoberts, let C Byron Mullens walk
Charlotte chose to bring back the improving Henderson and the all-around, do-everything PF Josh McRoberts. Henderson is just coming into his prime and will finally get to experience being on the upswing in the NBA. McRoberts was a great trade last year, as the Bobcats needed the passing, scoring and rebounding he brought from the PF position. The staff seemingly had enough of Byron Mullens, who in two seasons with the Bobcats couldn’t gain any consistency. Drafting of Cody Zeller was the impetus of Mullens’ exodus.
4) Bobcats draft Cody Zeller fourth overall
When the fourth pick of the 2013 NBA draft rolled around, there was palpable excitement in the air. Nerlens Noel, Alex Len and Ben McLemore were each available. The Bobcats could have their pick of the three to build their young team around them. Alas, it was not meant to be. The Bobcats coaching staff and front office selected Indiana’s Cody Zeller at No. 4, and have never looked back.
Zeller, who many thought could be the top pick in the draft last year, chose to stay another year in school, and his stock dropped a bit. Still, Zeller graded out extremely well in the combine and seemed to be an instant fit for the Bobcats to build around. His intelligence, athleticism and work ethic look to be unmatched in this draft class. The early returns are that the Bobcats may have gotten the steal of the draft at No. 4.
5) Bobcats Summer League Team looked good
Led by second-year G/F Jeffrey Taylor and rookie Zeller, the Bobcats’ Summer League team was one of the best in the league. Taylor looked very comfortable and dominant, and Zeller showed skills well above the level of most modern day rookies. Bismack Biyombo didn’t look like a third year player, however, and struggled against just about every team the Bobcats faced. Last year’s top pick, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist continued to flash athleticism but also illustrated that he’s got a long, long road ahead of him as he reconstructs his jumpshot.
It’s not out of the realm of possibility that the Bobcats win more than 30 games this season. With a deeper bench, younger players more experienced and a legitimate Rookie of the Year candidate, the Bobcats are finally trending upward.