NBA Preview: No joke, Bobcats suddenly getting it together

Editor’s note: This is the fourth of Sam Amico’s daily look at all 30 NBA teams heading into the 2013-14 season.

Meet the Bobcats
These aren’t the same old Charlotte Bobcats. Actually, they’re not too different from last season — unless you count the addition of Al Jefferson and one of the most-respected assistant coaches in the game.

That assistant coach was Steve Clifford. He’s now a head coach. Of the Bobcats.

So there’s a little bit of a buzz this season. May not sound like much, but when you’re the Bobcats, it counts for a lot.

As for Jefferson, there’s no doubt he’s spent the majority of his career as a borderline All-Star. More important than that, of course, is the Bobcats didn’t have a capable body to throw the ball into last season. Jefferson immediately changes that, and pretty much with an exclamation point.

Best of all, he’s a team player who is mostly concerned with making the most of his touches — as opposed to those low-block guys who think the only way to success is through the post.

Jefferson has some real perimeter talent around him, too. From point guard Kemba Walker to slashing small forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist to forever underrated shooting guard Gerald Henderson.

And let’s not discount rookie big man Cody Zeller, the fourth overall draft pick who could start next to Jefferson right away.

Have the Bobcats arrived? Well, no. Not yet.

But they’re no longer everyone’s Homecoming game. They’re suddenly scrappy, slightly more experienced and ready for a little payback.

Sounds like the type of team that owner Michael Jordan, and ‘Cats fans everywhere, can appreciate.

Steve Clifford (first NBA season)

Last season: 21-61, did not make playoffs.

Projected starters: C Al Jefferson; PF Cody Zeller (r); SF Michael Kidd-Gilchrist; SG Gerald Henderson; PG Kemba Walker.

Key reserves: PG Ramon Sessions, C Bismack Biyambo; SG Ben Gordon; SF Jeffrey Taylor; PF Josh McRoberts; C Brendan Haywood.

New faces: Clifford, Jefferson, Zeller, C Patrick O’Bryant.

Outlook: The Bobcats will be better. May not sound like much when you’re talking about a 21-win team — but if you can get past wins and losses, it shouldn’t be difficult to witness the progress. Walker and Henderson are an underrated backcourt, and the addition of Jefferson gives them someone to turn to when all else fails. Bottom line: This is a team on the rise that only needs some more experience and depth to get there.


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Twitter: @SamAmicoFSO