2011 NBA Offseason: Charlotte Bobcats

Written by Paul Banks of the Washington Times, David Kay and Peter Christian of the The Sports Bank. Send Paul an e-mail here: paulb05 AT hotmail DOT com.
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Charlotte Bobcats (Last Year: 34-48)

2011 NBA Draft Team Grade:

If I am ignoring the trade and just focusing on the draft picks, I think Charlotte did a nice job. They sorely needed a defensive presence in the middle and grabbed Bismack Biyombo to fill that role. I love Kemba Walker, and while Charlotte has D.J. Augustin at the point, I think Walker was a steal at No. 9 and it won’t take long for him to take over the starting point guard job. Jeremy Tyler would have been a nice project big man for them, but since they already took Biyombo, selling the pick to the Warriors never hurts a franchise that is need of money. (Team Grade: Makes sense)

Live 2011 NBA Draft Grades:

7. Bismack Biyombo, F, Congo
This is reportedly why the Bobcats made the deal to move into the 7th pick. Biyombo is not the true center Charlotte needs, but he is a beast on the boards, insanely long, and built like a man. He will definitely provide them with a defensive presence in the middle and has to, since his offensive game is non-existent. (Pick Grade: Makes sense)

9. Kemba Walker, PG, Connecticut
I think Kemba is a top four prospect in this draft. He will provide an eventual up-grade over D.J. Augustin at the point and gives Charlotte a scorer that they desperately need. Great get for the Bobcats even though they probably have a bigger need on the wing. (Pick Grade: LOVE IT!)

The Bobcats sold this pick to Golden State. I actually liked the pick if he would have stayed in Charlotte but the Bobcats do need money. (Pick Grade: Makes sense)

*** 2011 NBA Offseason Needs and Free Agents listed below this comment box. ***

2010-11 Season Summary:
Well that didn’t exactly go as planned, did it? A year after making the franchise’s first trip to the playoffs, the Bobcats took a step backward this past season. Their legendary coach resigned after 28 games and the new ownership led by Michael Jordan was forced to trade their best player in a needed cost-cutting move.

Even during the transition, veteran head coach Paul Silas was able to keep the team in the weak Eastern Conference playoff picture, only missing out on the eighth spot by three games. A 9-16 record post-Gerald Wallace cost them a second straight postseason berth but is certainly not shocking when you look at the collection of players Silas had to work with the final two months of the season.

Of that group, Stephen Jackson was the most productive player, leading the team in scoring for a second straight year. After Jackson, there was quite a dropoff. D.J. Augustin was solid in taking the reins as the full-time starting point guard replacing Raymond Felton, but certainly did not solidify his status as the floor leader of the future. Boris Diaw brought consistency to the power forward position but is not the typical physical presence at the four.

Production was scattered elsewhere across the roster. Gerald Henderson was much improved after a disappointing rookie season while Kwame Brown actually showed signs of life, taking over the starting center position from Nazr Mohammed who was eventually dealt to Oklahoma City. Injuries cost Tyrus Thomas half the season and DeSagana Diop went down with a torn Achilles in early Januray which sidelined him for the remainder of the year.

Jordan has his work cut out for him, and barring a miraculous move or two in the offseason, the Bobcats could be one of the worst teams in the league next year.

2011-12 Projected Depth Chart:

C: DeSagana Diop/Bismack Biyombo

PF: Boris Diaw/Tyrus Thomas/Eduardo Najera/D.J. White

SF: Corey Maggette/#Dante Cunningham

SG: Gerald Henderson/Matt Carroll

PG: D.J. Augustin/Kemba Walker

NBA Free Agents:

#F-Dante Cunningham (RFA)

C-Joel Przybilla (UFA)

C-Kwame Brown (UFA)

G-Garrett Temple (UFA)

SF-Dominic McGuire (UFA)

Offseason Transactions:

Bobcats acquire SF Corey Maggette and F/C Bismack Biyombo for SG Stephen Jackson, PG Shaun Livingston, and F Tobais Harris.

Bobcats trade Jeremy Tyler to Warriors for cash considerations.

Bobcats extend qualifying offer to F Dante Cunningham.

2010-11 Team Salary: Approximately $50.0 million

NBA Offseason Needs:

1. Gerald Wallace Replacement: Bobcat fans are still pretty ticked that management traded away fan favorite Gerald Wallace especially since they did not get much value in return. As their roster currently sits, Stephen Jackson would start at small forward with Gerald Henderson at the two. Jackson is capable of playing the three but does not possess the all-around abilities that Wallace does.

Charlotte should be able to address this need with either the ninth or 19th pick that they hold in the 2011 NBA Draft. But unless Kawhi Leonard falls to them at nine, no player they draft will have an immediate impact so they might have to search the free agent market for a cheap, short-term solution.

2. Center: The only true big man under contract for next season is DeSagana Diop, who likely will not be ready for the start of the season due to the aforementioned torn Achilles injury. That leaves Charlotte with a gaping hole in the middle especially since none of their power forwards are really capable of playing quality minutes at the five.

The 2011 NBA Draft is very thin on true center prospects making it difficult to address this need with one of their first-round picks. The Bobcats will have to try and find a capable solution with their mid-level exception, trade for a big man (which is even tougher since they do not have a lot of assets to offer), or dare I say, re-sign Kwame Brown for another year. Pick your poison.

3. Three-Point Shooter: Charlotte had the second worst three-point percentage in the NBA. Matt Carroll is their only true outside threat but cannot find steady minutes due to the fact that he is such a one-dimensional player. Besides Carroll, Diaw had the best three-point percentage on the team. Jackson and D.J. Augustin shot almost 65 percent of the Bobcats’ triples but only combined to make slightly more than three per game. Henderson is their likely starting shooting guard heading into next year and shot less than 20 percent from distance. THE FACTS DON’T LIE!

4. Athletes: Paul Silas wants to play a more up-tempo style of ball, and for that to happen, Charlotte needs to get more athletic and find players who can get to the rim. For a team that has finished, 30th, 28th and 29th in scoring the past three seasons, a more exciting offense should be a welcomed change but will only be effective with the right pieces in place.

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