NBA Preview: Reborn 'Cats have some purr

Kidd-Gilchrist, incoming veterans should mean improvement for Charlotte.

Nobody posts the worst winning percentage of all time then sprints toward the playoffs. Not unless you draft a young Michael Jordan, anyway.

Unfortunately for the Charlotte Bobcats, Jordan is retired and sticking to his role as team owner.

But there does appear to be some good news. Namely, the fact the Bobcats sort of reshaped the roster -- adding No. 2 overall draft pick Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, as well as veterans Ben Gordon, Brendan Haywood and Ramon Sessions.

On top of that, there’s the anticipated maturation of youngsters such as Kemba Walker, Bismack Biyombo and Gerald Henderson.

Is it the stuff championships are made of? Well, no. But it is reason for some buzz, which is pretty much a new concept in these parts.

On the floor, it will likely be a rocky road again. You don’t hire a first-time NBA head coach (as the Bobcats did in Mike Dunlap), roll out the ball and expect fireworks.

But when you’re the Bobcats, big explosions aren’t necessary. They’ll be happy with a small surge, and this year, they ought to get it.

Last season: 7-59, did not make playoffs.

Coach: Mike Dunlap (first year).

Top returnees: SG Gerald Henderson, PF Bismack Biyombo, PG Kemba Walker.

Key additions: SF Michael Kidd-Gilchrist-r, G Ben Gordon, PG Ramon Sessions.

X-Factor: The entire starting lineup. After all, it could be entirely new -- with Haywood, Kidd-Gilchrist, Sessions, Gordon and Biyombo (a part-time starter last season). In other words, there’s still not an All-Star in sight, and a lot of those fellows might be playing reserve roles elsewhere. So here they’ll need to play together and with passion. And that’s just to stay in games.

Strengths: Kidd-Gilchrist gives the Bobcats tons of athleticism at the swing position. In today’s NBA, that cannot be understated. Just imagine if the kid can dribble and shoot, too. Almost as important are the steady veterans compiled in the off-season. Sessions spent part of last season next to Kobe Bryant. Haywood has a championship ring. Gordon can fill it up. Things are taking shape.

Weaknesses: Aside from the aforementioned vets, there’s still tons of youth and guys who still have some things to prove (see Tyrus Thomas). And again, it’s hard to envision all these different parts coming in and turning into a smooth unit right off the bat. On top of that, the Bobcats aren’t a particularly tall team. Just the opposite, especially in the backcourt, as Gordon and Walker are each 6 feet 1 on a good day. That’s going to make things difficult defensively. At least.

Outlook: By all indications, the Bobcats got better. That wasn’t necessarily a grand task considering where they were. But there’s something to be said for working the phones to land some veterans -- most of whom will receive the type of minutes in Charlotte no one else would dare offer. In that sense, the Bobcats are much like an expansion team all over again. And that, folks, is a step up from the D-League squad they resembled last season.

Prediction: 22-60.

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