Midseason in Charlotte

The Bobcats are in dark times right now. They're on pace to smash the record for most losses by more than 30 points. One can only hope that time will yield a brighter future. Before we look back at the first half of the season, the following is a gchat conversation I had with Rohan Cruyff, of At The Hive, the New Orleans Hornets blog, whose team is also encountering some tough times.

atthehive: ah well. one of these years [the hornets + bobcats] will make the playoffs again
it just wont be this year
or next
me: SOMEDAY WE WILL MEET IN THE FINALS
AND WEEP AT CENTER COURT
AND THEN I WILL PUT MY HAND ON YOUR SHOULDER AND GESTURE OUT WITH MY OTHER HAND POINTING INTO THE DISTANCE
AND SAY "REMEMBER WHEN"
"WE MADE IT
SHAME OUR TEAMS DIDN'T"
atthehive: i'm printing this conversation out and framing it on my wall

Timeline

  • 11/26/2011 -- The Lockout ends, we all rejoice! Yay basketball!
  • 12/14/2011 -- Bobcats sign Reggie Williams, hooray!
  • 12/19/2011 -- Biyombo's Fuenlabrada contract bought out, free to play in NBA to the surprise of many.
  • 12/26/2011 -- The Bobcats' season begins with a surprising and thrilling win over the Bucks on the strong play of Boris Diaw
  • 12/28/2011 -- The Heat narrowly defeat the Bobcats by one point. I begin to be concerned that the team could lose its lottery pick by somehow beating the odds and making the playoffs
  • 1/4/2012 -- Bobcats win!
  • 1/6/2012 -- Corey Maggette injured, out for 2-4 weeks, oh no?
  • 1/10/2012 -- Boris Diaw crash lands to earth after his heady play. Ah yes, that's what we're used to! In a contract year, no less!
  • 1/14/2012 -- Bobcats win!
  • 1/25/2012 -- Bobcats start Kemba Walker, Matt Carroll, Derrick Brown, Tyrus Thomas and Byron Mullens against the lowly Wizards. They lose by 27. I remember how I worried about this team perhaps losing their lottery pick. I laugh and cry simultaneously.
  • 2/1/2012 -- Bobcats lose to Portland by a franchise-record 44 points. Walker, Diaw and Williams combine for 3-for-26 FG shooting. HOW THEY LOST, I'LL NEVER KNOW.
  • 2/10/2012 -- Bobcats lose to the Derrick Rose-less Bulls by 31. That's the punchline.
  • 2/17/2012 -- Bobcats end 16-game skid, beating the Raptors and start undefeated streak in countries that aren't the United States.
  • 2/19/2012 -- Bobcats end winning streak at one, lose to Pacers by 35. SO MUCH BLOOD.
  • 2/21/2012 -- Zach Harper of ESPN names me the All-Star of the Bobcats. I humbly accept with a written speech and poem.

Highlights

  • Half the season is over!
  • Kemba had a triple-double and shows some dynamic ability.
  • Reggie Williams looks like a pretty awesome FA signing so far. Yay for smart front office decisions!
  • Gerald Henderson was playing well before injury, taking the ball to the rim with a fervor.
  • Derrick Brown had a nice stretch of good basketball.
  • Bismack Biyombo took a while to get consistent minutes but shows his defensive prowess, and continues to improve.
  • Byron Mullens showed why he is in the NBA.
  • The Bobcats are poised to have the best odds for the top pick in the upcoming draft.

Lowlights

  • Half the season still remains.
  • There has been nothing consistent about the Bobcats, save for their lackluster play. Kemba Walker has been streaky, to say the least. Injuries have sidelined D.J. Augustin, Gerald Henderson and Corey Maggette for weeks.
  • DeSagana Diop "playing" basketball.
  • Boris Diaw doesn't even have those two/three game stretches of productive basketball before reverting to unassertive, lazy play. In a contract season. That's so Boris.
  • The Bobcats' frontcourt.
  • The Bobcats' roster during particularly injury-addled times, which forced many minutes to go to Cory Higgins.
  • The lack of ball movement in the offense.
  • Corey Maggette slowing down the pace when the Bobcats need to play uptempo.
  • The lack of competitiveness. That's what I miss most.
  • Just about everything oh my god oh my god
  • MY EYES, MY EYES! OH GOD, MY EYES.

So what happens now?

Well, the Bobcats clearly don't need to prepare for the playoffs. Looking ahead, they do need to tighten up into a smaller rotation, but for that to happen, the players need to be more consistent and that's probably not going to happen with a young roster. The young players will continue to get time, so all we can ask is to see them build further upon their base. There are so many things that I'd like to see the team do better during the next 33 games: better ball movement to find openings while forcing opponents to rotate well; more cohesiveness on defense; more consistent effort. It's up to Silas and the players to do this. The team's roster is hardly a product of a strong vision. Diop, Diaw and Matt Carroll remain the lasting remnants of the past era, dragging the Bobcats down. The Bobcats are in a state of transition as they work toward shedding those weights and adding young talent, developing a core to build around. It's tough to watch as fans because such terribleness comes as a result, but it's a necessary evil to get out of the cellar in the system the NBA has cultivated.

As the trade deadline nears, the Bobcats will look to make deals. Is anyone untouchable? I think not. Walker and Biyombo are probably the closest ones to that label, but no. Augustin has long been whispered about for deals leaving Charlotte, because, well duh. The Bobcats should continue to look at shedding salary or gaining good young talent and/or draft picks.

The upcoming second half of the season probably won't be much, if any, rosier a picture than the previous 33 games. It will suck, let's not sugarcoat it. It will be frustrating at times. It will be slightly encouraging at others.

The NBA may have avoided its "Nuclear Winter," as David Stern called it, but the Bobcats' season feels no less radioactively cold. The end is obscured and blurry but it has to end eventually. Sure, we can moan and whine about the low temperatures, but we can't do anything about it. You have two choices: (a) move to Florida or (b) Just strap on your timbs, put on your warmest jacket and gear up for the frozen hardcourt tundra, Bobcats fans.

Patience is difficult but necessary. Find it and, Shammgod willing, better times will come.

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