Are the Bobcats a Playoff Team?


Bobcats Illustration by Mike S.

Last season we saw an aging and aching Boston squad hobble into the post-season as a 41-win seventh seed while the oddball mix of young talent in Milwaukee did just enough things right to default into the eight spot. With both of these franchises taking a clear step back this summer, which 2013 Lotto teams will rise up to take their place in the Eastern Conference Playoffs?

SEEDS 1-4 | The Locks – Heat, Pacers, Bulls, Nets

Miami are the champs and didn’t get appreciably worse. Indy pushed the Heat to seven games and that was before massively upgrading their bench. Chicago gets their former MVP back. Brooklyn added two Hall of Famers to a roster that already looked like the Casual Fan All-Star team. Chisel these four into your 2014 Eastern Conference bracket.

SEEDS 5-6 | One Catastrophe Away – Knicks, Hawks

If Carmelo Anthony or Tyson Chandler miss any major amount of time, the Knicks are toast. Same goes for Atlanta if either Al Horford or Jeff Teague go down. Barring disaster however, both of these rosters are strong enough to secure a playoff spot in the East.

SEEDS 7-8 | The Best of the Rest – Pistons, Wiz

The last two Eastern Conference Playoff Spots are theirs to lose: Detroit just dropped all that Corey Maggette cap money on Josh Smith, then upgraded Brandons (Knight to Jennings) – they seem hell-bent on forcing that Top 8 protected pick they owe Charlotte out of the Lottery. The Wizards were 24-25 when John Wall played last year and are banking on their max-man to finally stay healthy (though he’s never played more than 69 games in a season).

THE ALTERNATES | If Everything Goes Right – Cavs, Raptors, Bobcats

I’m assuming the Celtics are all in on The Wiggins Lottery and that Milwaukee’s ever increasing oddball roster won’t have enough offensive firepower to stay in close games (although the young defenders along the frontline are very intriguing). That leaves us with…

Toronto. Rudy Gay and Demar Derozan are talented, high-usage scorers but will need to establish a pecking order and get others involved. Summer League MVP Jonas Valanciunas could be a beast in the middle and last year’s Lotto Pick Terrence Ross could morph into Klay Thompson East. The Raps notched 34 victories last season despite having to incorporate Gay on the fly. They’re the most likely candidate to jump into the eight seed should one of the above franchises stumble.

Cleveland wants to put the post-Lebron Lottery days behind them but the Cavs only won three more games than the Bobcats last season – astounding when you factor in Charlotte’s paper-thin front court and coaching problems – and the jump from 24 to 40 wins is rarely made without adding a superstar. If the ramshackle center duo of Anderson Varajao and Andrew Bynum can’t synchronize their annual injured reserve stints, Cleveland will struggle to reach the post-season

Finally, we have our beloved Proto-Hornets in Charlotte. Coming off a tremendous offseason that saw the team massively upgrade their coaching staff and front-court, Kemba & The Gang will likely surprise many by actually competing on a nightly basis. The addition of Al Jefferson will aid in Walker’s transition from dynamic scorer to dynamic point guard. Jefferson and Cody Zeller’s inside/out abilities will free up driving lanes for the still 19-year old Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Both the coaches and reserves on the Bobcat bench are the strongest in franchise history. These are all signs for optimism should everything come together.

Unfortunately, the interior defense is a major question mark and the Cats’ two strongest defenders (MKG, Bismack Biyombo) are liabilities on the other side of the ball. Also, the bulk of the team’s core is still incredibly young and inexperienced.

Given the talent parity in the East’s muddy middle, it’s unlikely Charlotte will make the post-season jump this season – but that’s probably not the team’s plan anyway. A successful 30-34 win campaign combined with at least two (potentially three) 2014 first round picks, $10-$12 million in cap space and another year of growth under a legit coaching staff should be more than enough fuel to launch the ’14-’15 Charlotte Hornets into the Playoffs and keep them there for a while. UNLESS…

A ‘James Harden Scenario’ Appears

If Charlotte shocks everyone by playing .500 or so ball by the All-Star break and a disgruntled All-Star becomes available (Lamarcus Aldridge, Kevin Love, ???), the Cats have enough in the war chest to out-bid anyone. Large expiring contract? Check. Enticing 2014 First Round Picks? Check. Young prospects on cheap rookie deals with some upside? Check. In this kind of James Harden scenario, Charlotte could certainly separate themselves from the middle of the pack ahead of schedule and find themselves playing meaningful games next April.



POLL : Will The Bobcats Make The Playoffs?

  • Yes, Easily (14%, 37 Votes)
  • Just Barely Get In (29%, 78 Votes)
  • Close, But No Cigar (29%, 79 Votes)
  • No Way (16%, 42 Votes)
  • Hope Not (12%, 32 Votes)

Total Voters: 268

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Eastern Conference Power Rankings – July 14, 2009


Rankings as of July 14, 2009

Bobcats Baseline Eastern Conference Power Rankings


After a few weeks of trades, free-agent signings and draft selections, we thought we’d unleash the first Bobcats Baseline Eastern Conference Power Rankings in order to see how close (or how far) the Bobcats are from challenging for a spot in the Top 8.

Orlando has to be the undisputed winner thus far as they’ve admirably decided to GO FOR IT as a small-market team.  The Celts, Hawks and Wizards get big points as well for being pro-active thus far in the offseason.  Meanwhile, a quiet Bobcats franchise had better hope Gerald Henderson’s first two summer-league games (0 pts followed by a DNP) were flukes – or they better have a Plan B.

The top half of the Conference looks scary, btw.  The old adage of “if you’re not getting better, you’re getting worse” will definitely apply this year.

Let’s see how the teams stack up thus far:

1 3 Although the Magic lost both Hedu and Courtney Lee, they quickly reloaded with Vince Carter and Brandon Bass.  Ryan Anderson might not be so bad either. With the Celts health in question and the Cavs having a less than stellar offseason, the Magic look set to repeat as Eastern Conference champs.
2 2 Even if they don’t re-sign Big Baby, Rasheed is a HUGE upgrade. If healthy, the Celtics might make it two championships out of three next June.
3 1 Any team with Lebron is a lock for the top three in the conference. Bringing back Varejao is nice (if a bit expensive) but a team with a slow, lumbering veteran center (Z) adds another (Shaq) in the offseason. How ironic. Lebron, D-Wade and Bosh’s “mini-max” deals are deterring key Free Agents from playing alongside them.
4 4 Under the radar busy this offseason, the Hawks have re-upped Bibby and Pachulia, traded for Jamal Crawford and drafted Wake’s Jeff Teague. They played it smart by settling up with their Unrestricted FAs first and will probably take care of Restricted FA Marvin Williams later this summer. The Hawks are a strong squad.
5 5 D-Wade and company are going to have a tough time finishing this high again next season with a much more competitive Eastern Conference. If the front office keeps standing Pat, the Heat could find themselves out of the playoffs come April.
6 7 The Bulls pushed a depleted Celtics team to seven games. They lost their crunch-time scorer to Detroit but could balance out their roster with a potential trade for Carlos Boozer. If that deal goes through, move the Bulls up a spot or two.
7 15 Not a big fan of Mike Miller, Randy Foye or Flip Saunders individually but as a group, combined with a healthy Agent Zero, Jamison and Caron Butler, the Wiz should out-score every team in the conference and be good for at least 45 wins.
8 8 Adding Ben Gordon, Charlie V. and Austin Daye while subtracting Rasheed, Iverson and McDyess will inject youth while sacrificing experience. Question is, how will championship holdovers Prince and Hamilton react to their fourth coach since the ’04 Title.
9 10 The quietest team this offseason in the Eastern Conference, the Bobcats will add Dookie Gerald Henderson to a squad that went through a dramatic overhaul last season. Perhaps one more year under coach Larry Brown will be enough to sneak into the top eight in the East.
10 9 Looks like they’ll replace the departing Jarrett Jack, Marquis Daniels and Rasho Nestorovic with Dahntay Jones and Tyler Hansbrough. Maybe not enough to repeat their one game lead over the Bobcats last season.
11 6 This could be the team on the decline in the conference. Last year’s massive FA signing of Elton Brand did little but stifle both their cap and their up-tempo attack and now there are rumblings that the Knicks could pry away the team’s glue – Andre Miller. If Miller walks, don’t expect the Sixers back in the post-season.
12 11 For upside fanatics, there’s a lot to like about this team. Devin Harris, Brook Lopez, T-Will and Courtney Lee are quality young guys. Unfortunately, they may have to wait until next year to make any serious noise…possibly with a new SF wearing #23.
13 13 The Raptors essentially replace Shawn Marion, Anthony Parker and half of their bench for Hedo Turkoglu. Then they turn around a drop $50 million on Bargnani in order to save face for making the second worse draft selection in 2006 (yeah, after AMMO). Does anybody out there think that the Raps have more than a 2% chance of re-upping Bosh after the season?
14 14 I’m not really sure I understand what’s going on here. Knicks were pursuing Grant Hill and now may be close to signing 30+ year old PG Andre Miller? All while letting Nate Robinson and David Lee (potentially) walk? Why would Lebron choose to join this mess when he could lead a team of young studs in New Jersey to the promise land for a solid decade?
15 12 This team makes absolutely no sense to me – check that, it’s run by a United States Senator, of course it’s going to be inefficient, bland and confusing. Just like the DMV or the Tax Code. Bogut’s a decent young center, Redd needs to be moved to a team that can win now (Cleveland) and Sessions should try to get out while he still can.

*Previous Rank determined by final ’08-’09 regular season standings.