Site: Bobcat Bonfire
Author: Serena Hays
Last year’s record: 26-56
Pre-season record: 0-5
Prediction of 06-07 wins: 42
Last year the Bobcats had to rely on some players that normally wouldn’t be called upon due to injuries. The team was riddled all season with a variety of injuries. The only player to play in every single game last year was Raymond Felton, a rookie at the time. Gerald Wallace, Brevin Knight, and Raymond Felton held the team together like glue at the end of the season, while Sean May and Emeka Okafor watched from the sidelines. Last year, each player who was able, stepped up when they were needed and did what they had to do to help the team.
I foresee the effort and play that we saw at the end of last season to carry over into this season. All of the same players are there, but there have been a few new additions. Adam Morrison was probably the most key addition to the team this off-season. He brings emotion and fire to a team that rarely shows any of that. He can shoot and score, which is something the team needs. The players who stuck it out at the end of last year are hoping to build on what they started, and with Okafor and May both healthy, the team should do well this year.
The Bobcats are slowly becoming Raymond Felton’s team. He was the most recognizable player on the team last year, and the only reason he’s not this year is because Adam Morrison is so high-profile. Felton is a quiet leader, who leads by example and not necessarily words. His work ethic and passion for the game are what truly hold this team together.
Here’s what to look for on offense: The team has many role-players, but now they have some scorers. Adam Morrison and Walter Hermann will add points to the board that weren’t there before. Look for Felton to keep feeding the ball to other players and gain a lot of assists, but still average 10 plus points per game. Look for Okafor and May to put in the tip shots, get offensive rebounds, and draw defenders to them. Look for other teams to double-team Adam Morrison, freeing up Wallace and Knight to put some points in. Look for a lot of passing and selfless play by most of the players, but also for them to step it up on offense and win some games.
What to look for on defense: Gerald Wallace led the league in steals and averaged just over 2 blocks per game last year. That will not change, he will keep doing what he does best on defense and stop the other team. Okafor and May are two big bodies to have under the basket, look for them to get blocks and defensive rebounds. Felton is better known for his ball handling skills, but he will smother the player he is guarding. Last year’s defense (especially at the end of the season) handled themselves pretty well, and once again with May and Okafor back on the court it should be even better.
Areas of improvement: Something I mention in every post: TURNOVERS. They have got to watch how many turnovers they have every game and get them down. For the past 3 games, they have had 18 turnovers per game. You cannot win games that way. Another thing they need to work on is who is going to take the shot when. It seems like they know who they want to be their shooters, but they haven’t got the timing down of when the shot should be taken.
In light of everyone being pretty healthy right now, the team has a great chance to make the playoffs this year. However, if they continue to turn the ball over, that will not happen. Look for the team to improve as the season goes on, and I fully expect them to make the playoffs next April.