The Charlotte Bobcats won just seven games in 2011-12, by far the worst team in the NBA. Just how bad? The second worst team in the league won 13 more games than Charlotte. The Bobcats were putting their hopes into the NBA Draft lottery, hoping to land star big man Anthony Davis.
He was going to instantly come in and change the franchise. Just one problem, the lottery ping pong balls didn’t go their way. A 7-59 record didn’t land Charlotte the top pick.
While the Bobcats did end up with the second pick, taking a different Kentucky forward, it looked like another long season in the Queen City.
Look, it still could be, but early on it’s easy to see that these Bobcats are no-pushover. Charlotte has already won four games this year, or 57 percent of last year’s win total in just eight games.
The Bobcats are a much improved offensive team with better shot selection and have cut down on turnovers. New addition Brendan Haywood and rookie Michael Kidd-Gilchrist have helped Charlotte become a solid offensive rebounding team.
But during its recent three game winning streak that was snapped Saturday by Memphis, defense has gotten the job done.
In Charlotte’s first four games, in which it went 1-3, the Bobcats gave up an average of 109.8 points and allowed opponents to shoot 50 percent from the field. Now in the last four, in which they’ve gone 3-1, the Bobcats have given up just 88.5 points per game and cut their opponent’s field goal percentage down to 37 percent.
Early on, new coach Mike Dunlap was trying a press and a matchup zone. It wasn’t working, so Dunlap has scaled back on using them. It’s also been about Dunlap getting a young team to buy into his defensive mindset and the continuous effort it requires.
Personnel wise, second year guard Kemba Walker has taken a step forward in his game. His points average is up to 18.8, and he’s taken the ball to the hoop more, getting more points from the foul line this season. Additions Ramon Sessions and Ben Gordon have added some scoring punch to the backcourt, while Kidd-Gilchrist, Haywood and an improved Byron Mullens have shored up the front line.
While the Bucks are still more talented than the Bobcats and probably still consider this a game they must win, it won’t be easy. Add in the fact that this is a classic trap game with Miami and Chicago looming later in the week, and Milwaukee could have its hands full tonight.