2009/10 Review:

With almost 70 years, Larry Brown showed once again that he is still one of the best head coaches in the league by leading the Bobcats to the first playoff appearance in franchise history.

His signature was (as usually) a fierce defensive team that was crowed as the best in the league! The Bobcats allowed a league best 93.8 points per game and that was the biggest reason for an exceptional journey that culminated with a 4-game sweep at the hands of the Orlando Magic.

Even though Larry Brown’s teams are more about team play in both ends of the floor I just can’t ignore the impact that Stephen Jackson had when he was traded to Charlotte. At the time the Bobcats were 3-6 and they were coming from 4 consecutive losses in which they allowed 93, 93, 98 and 80 points – an average of just 91 points per game. Theoretically any team that presents such strong defensive numbers would win some games, but the Bobcats ended up losing all four games because their offense was horrible at best by scoring 90, 81, 75 and 74 points! Then Stephen Jackson appeared and he helped the Bobcats on the offensive being the team’s top scorer.

Gerald Wallace was the first Bobcat selected for the All-Star team, as he enjoyed a breakout season and the Bobcats were a team that most teams didn’t want to play against during the regular season. They had a remarkable 31-10 record at home and in the divisional games they ended up with the best record: 10-6!

2009/10 Advanced Stats:

Pace 26th 93.8
Offense 24th 101.7
Defense 1st 100.0
Rebounds 10th +1.20

2010/11 Outlook:

Projected Depth Chart:

PG: D.J. Augustin, Shaun Livingston, Sherron Collins
SG: Stephen Jackson, Gerald Henderson, Matt Carroll
SF: Gerald Wallace, Eduardo Najera, Dominic McGuire
PF: Boris Diaw, Tyrus Thomas, Derrick Brown
C: Nazr Mohammed, DeSagana Diop, Kwame Brown

With almost half of the league trying to add important pieces in the offseason, the Charlotte Bobcats remained financially strained and their moves was basically to stay under the NBA’s luxury tax at the expense of on court performance.

That’s why they let their last year’s starting point guard Raymond Felton goes as an unrestricted free agent to New York and traded Tyson Chandler for the non-guaranteed contract of Erick Dampier just to release him later. In case of you not noticed, we are talking about two of the most important positions in basketball: point guard and center, in which the Bobcats didn’t make any significant move after losing the last season’s starters.

Nevertheless, it is still possible that the Bobcats will make a trade, as they have 9 plus million in the expiring contract of Boris Diaw to use. The first attempt involved the Raptors and Jose Calderon, but Larry Brown didn’t like Calderon’s atrocious defense and some late rumors are pointing forward for Nets’ guard Devin Harris.

Gerald Wallace is coming from a monster season and he is the leader of this team. He always had the potential to have terrific seasons due to his athleticism and all around play, but he had a history of minor injuries that prevented him to be at his best. By playing a career high of 76 games, Wallace was able to be healthy all season long and the results were encouraging: 18.2 points, 10.1 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.1 blocks per game. His 10.1 rebounds per game was the 9th best mark in the league, but best amongst Small Forwards and in the first three months of competition, he averaged an insane 12 boards per game! Wallace is the perfect player for Larry Brown’s system and barring any injury, he’ll have another terrific season this year.

Stephen Jackson was the perfect complement for Gerald Wallace last season. Captain Jack averaged 21.1 points, 5.1 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.6 steals and 1.6 3-pointers within the Bobcats uniform and he usually he was the go-to guy for them down the stretch. Despite shooting only 42.3% from the field and committing 3.2 turnovers per game Captain Jack was a key piece in a poor Bobcats offensive unit and there’s no reason to think otherwise this season as he is the most talented player in this department.

Raymond Felton was the Bobcats’ playmaker in the last 5 years and not also he was solid in those years, but he was durable as well, as he missed only 12 games on a 5-year span, so replacing him won’t be a easy task especially when the organization failed (until this current day I’m writing the preview) to bring a relevant Point Guard to replace him.

D.J. Augustin is by now the starter by default and he is coming from a discrete and disappointing season last year after an impressive rookie campaign. He is a talented offensive player, but his poor defensive skills didn’t fit in Larry Brown’s mind and after falling into Larry Brown’s doghouse, Augustin simply wasn’t a factor last season. Can he change his defensive skills and mentality in just a couple of months? Will Larry Brown be patient with him in such important role when he wasn’t with him being a backup? These are crucial questions for the organization right now!

Shaun Livingston will compete with D.J. Augustin for the Bobcats’ point guard spot and he made a nice end of the season for the Wizards, but his knee history is still a problematic for the future and playing for an aggressive and competitive team like the Bobcats is way different from playing for the Wizards in those specific conditions.

By giving Tyrus Thomas a five-year $40 million deal this summer, the club is expecting Thomas to be the future face of the organization as sooner or later Boris Diaw will be playing for another team elsewhere in the league. Thomas will be entering his 5th season as a pro and the Bulls got tired of waiting for his potential to develop, as he consistently failed to step up his game. He played 25 games for the Bobcats last season and he showed solid numbers despite averaging just 21.7 minutes per game. In terms of production per 48 minutes, he averaged 13.5 rpg – second best in the team; 3.28 blocks per game - second best in the team and 2.04 steals per game – also second best in the team. No wonder why Larry Brown loved him and pressured Michael Jordan to sign him. Now it’s time to Thomas prove that he can be productive in a bigger role.

Regardless his situation within the team, Boris Diaw is a solid player and he’s put up together back-to-back great seasons in Charlotte. In fact, the only reason that he’s involved in some trade rumors is because there are plenty of teams in the league interested on his services and this is a good sign for him. He is that kind of player that can contribute in every single relevant phase of the game, as he got some offensive skills including being one of the best big men passers in the league and his defense in underrated, although he is far from being an elite defender.

At the center position, the Bobcats have some veteran players to share minutes and contribution without having a true player that we can say he will get the majority of the playing time. Nazr Mohammed is the early favorite to be the starter and last season he put some interesting numbers when he started and averaged 20 minutes per game: 9.4 points, 6.1 rebounds and 0.8 blocks in 29 starts. Will he get more minutes this season and how will be his production in a major role? Behind him, the Bobcats have DeSagana Diop and Kwame Brown and this is not a good sign for the team in terms of quality and depth.

The Bobcats second unit was the 6th worst scoring unit in the league and it will difficult for them to improve from such dreadful ranking. Gerald Henderson and Derrick Brown are from the team’s 2009 draft class, but each averaged less than ten minutes per game as rookies last season. Eduardo Najera and Dominic McGuire can bring some toughness to the team, but it’s up to Larry Brown to make some magic in here.

Charlotte went to the playoffs for the first time in their history, so their expectations are dramatically high for the talent they have on their roster. They will play 12 games against Orlando, Atlanta and Miami in the toughest division in the league, so improving from last season will be almost a miracle and Larry Brown unfortunately is just a terrific head coach, not a magician.