The Charlotte Bobcats became the first team kicked out of the NBA playoffs when they lost to the Miami Heat last night 109-98. The Heat swept the series and will face the winner of the Toronto/Brooklyn series. As for Charlotte, they ended the regular season with a 43-39 record, their first winning season since 2010 when they finished 44-38. So let’s see what the future holds for them next year.
The first thing that will happen to Charlotte is a name-change. After 10 years of being called the Bobcats, they will switch their mascot back to the Hornets, their original team name. The change will also come with a new logo and new uniforms. Will this result in a new winning-culture? Maybe. Back when they were called the Hornets, Charlotte’s team did pretty well for itself. Maybe going back to the old name will bring back some old school basketball that will lift the spirits of the players and fans.
Al Jefferson was a huge addition to the Bobcats team this year. He led the team in both points and rebounds. With him healthy next year, Charlotte will dominate the paint a lot better than they did this year. They were only 16th in rebounds, but their defense was better than expected, only allowing 97.1 points per game, which was 4th in the league.
In order to help grab more rebounds, the Bobcats need a good power forward to pair up with Jefferson down low. Josh McRoberts is obviously not the answer in Charlotte. Luckily for Charlotte, this year is full of great players to choose from. They could go after Jerami Grant from Syracuse, Cleanthony Early from Wichita State or maybe Jarnell Stokes from Tennessee. Since Charlotte did so well in the regular season, they won’t have the opportunity to draft a guy like Aaron Gordon from Arizona, Noah Vonleh from Indiana or Adreian Payne from Michigan State. However, there is a possibility that they could still be there. In other words, Charlotte has six great players to choose from this draft and can add depth to their front court.
The soon-to-be-called Hornets should be good with their back court for next year. Kemba Walker is slowly turning into the superstar that Charlotte needs, Gerald Henderson is an above average shooting guard that can put in some good effort every night and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is developing into a solid starter that can hold his own. Walker led his team in points during the series with Miami, averaging 19.5 points in four games and six assists per game as well. Veteran shooting guard Gary Neal also produced great numbers coming off the bench with 11.3 points and two rebounds per game. I see Charlotte moving into a good direction after the off-season. They’ve got a great coach in Steve Clifford and a solid starting lineup that now has playoff experience. I am optimistic for this team that is heading in the right direction as Hornets next year.