Remember the beginning of the season, when there was no hope? We're right back there, with a few differences.
Felton is Felton.
Raja is a better defender than Jason Richardson, but he loses a good deal on offense. JRich is probably better in sum.
Morrison is nowhere near as good as Gerald.
Boris is way better than May.
Emeka '09 is better than Expected Emeka '09.
The loss to the Jazz illustrates how fragile the Bobcats' playoff hopes are. They can't withstand losing Gerald, Emeka, Boris, or Raja for any length of time and expect to keep rolling because the bench is full of guys who either washed out elsewhere or are in the process of washing out.
Augustin's starter-quality. As much as I bemoan drafting him over Lopez or Bayless, dude knows what he's doing out there and can put the ball in the basket. After him, though, we're in huge trouble. There's a good reason every one of these guys is still in the NBA, but there's just as good a reason why none of them deserves to be near a playoff team's rotation. One by one:
Cartier Martin -- D-Leaguer. Implicitly rejected every day by NBA teams who didn't call him up.
Shannon Brown -- Saw no playing time with the Cavs when they were messing around with guys like the decrepit Eric Snow and Larry Hughes at guard. Couldn't crack the Bulls rotation, either.
Adam Morrison -- A shooter who's shooting 37% from the field for his career.
Nazr Mohammed -- Defensively, he combines Andrea Bargnani's court sense with Mark Blount's physicality.
Sean May -- Has needed to lose fifteen pounds over the last four months so that Larry Brown would even consider letting him play regularly. When he did play, he was winded and had zero lift on his jumps. Instead of working his ass off, he's got Big Daddy's on speed dial. Hint: The DVDs work.
Juwan Howard -- Cut by Denver in a roster crunch. They chose to keep Steven Hunter instead, even though Hunter had a sore knee that turned out to be so damaged, the surgery to fix it could have ended his career.
Sean Singletary -- Under six feet tall. Probably a better shooter than Dee Brown. The one from Illinois. That's not a compliment.
DeSagana Diop -- Seasons: 8. Starts: 82. Career high in points: 12. Deluding yourself into thinking he'll ever develop a reasonable offensive game: Priceless.
Freedom Fries -- Was once charitably described as "one of the top10 big men in all of France". Granted, the guy who wrote that is an awful sportswriter, but the point still stands.
When we mortgaged the future, we didn't close all the loopholes, address all the caveats, fill out the bench with guys who could step in and start at a moment's notice. Barring further moves, we're destined to sit not in bad team purgatory, but in that damnable lottery purgatory, in which we're too good to get the number one pick, but not good enough to be serious playoff contenders.
34 more games, people. We have 34 more games to make up 5 games in the win column and pass 5 other teams in the standings.