STATE OF THE FRANCHISE
The Bobcats 2011-12 season was record setting. Unfortunately, they set the record for the worst winning percentage in NBA history. The Bobcats were nothing short of horrendous last season, and there may not be much hope for drastic improvement this season. They have a mixture of poor management, sub-par talent, and bad luck. Even with the worst record in the NBA, they were still not fortunate enough to land the top pick in the draft and settled for Michael Kidd-Gilchrist with the second pick. The Bobcats decided to get rid of several solid veterans during the offseason, hopefully to free up salary space for potential signings of top talent in later years. They got solid production at times from last season’s rookies Bismack Biyombo and Kemba Walker. Both players should be starting for several upcoming years. The Bobcats should improve offensively with the acquisitions of Ben Gordon and Ramon Sessions, but do not expect the improvement to be drastic. Aside from their young players with future All-Star potential in Gerald Henderson and Kidd-Gilchrist, the Bobcats' roster is filled with mediocre veterans at both the forward and center positions. They should not break their own record for worst winning percentage, but it is very realistic to believe they will remain somewhere at the bottom of the Eastern Conference in 2012-13.
PLAYING TIME DISTRIBUTION
The Bobcats’ guard play is likely to be distributed fairly evenly between four players. Walker and Henderson are likely to start and play approximately 35 minutes a game. Gordon and Sessions, both acquired in the offseason, will come off the bench at either guard positions and play between 20-to-30 minutes per game. Henderson could also see increased playing time at small forward. The starting small forward will be Kidd-Gilchrist. He should step right in and get close to 40 minutes per game. Reggie Williams will be Kidd-Gilchrist’s primary backup but will rarely play more than 10 minutes per game. Both the power forward and center positions are logjammed primarily with mediocre veteran players, many of which can play both positions. Biyombo will likely start at center and play over 30 minutes per game but could see five-plus minutes at power forward. Biyombo’s main substitute at center is likely to be Brendan Haywood, who may also play with Biyombo and get close to 20 minutes per game. DeSagana Diop should pick up scrap center minutes towards the end of games or as an injury fill-in. At this point, the starting power forward could be either Byron Mullens or Tyrus Thomas. Mullens revitalized his career last season, and Thomas continues to fall short of his once-perceived talent. Mullens will likely start at power forward, but they should both end up seeing about 25 minutes per game. Mullens could also see minutes at center against smaller lineups. Rookie Jeffery Taylor could see time at both forward positions but is likely to see limited minutes during his first season.
Bismack Biyombo: Biyombo displayed his athletic ability in his first season. He did not get much playing time at the beginning of last season, but towards the end of the year found himself as the Bobcats’ starting center. He does not have much of an offensive game but showed he can be an excellent rebounder and shot blocker. He seemed to get tired by the end of the season, and the Bobcats decided to cut back on his playing time, but with one year experience and an entire training camp, he should have plenty of stamina to last the season.
Brendan Haywood: Haywood is an 11-year veteran who has been with multiple teams. He has never truly lived up to his potential but has often been injured. He is a solid seven-foot center who has shown flashes of dominance. He should still have plenty of good minutes in him, and although he will not be an offensive focal point, he should shoot for a high percentage and be able to occasionally score in double-digits. His value will come primarily from his defense and rebounding.
DeSagana Diop: Diop is a high-energy player with most of his value coming on the defensive end. He is unlikely to get enough playing time to warrant any fantasy value.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist: Kidd-Gilchrist is just 19 years old and is the youngest player in the league. He is an athletic player who has all-around potential. He should start immediately for the Bobcats, who are severely lacking in players close to Kidd-Gilchrist’s ability, but he may not see 40 minutes per game until later in the season. However, look for Kidd-Gilchrist to show signs of being a future dominant player.
Byron Mullens: Mullens is big for a forward and small for a center, but he will likely see time at both positions again this season. He had by far the best season of his career last year, averaging 13.0 points in his first 13 games and finishing with 10.3 points and 6.6 rebounds per game in the final 16 games. He is a solid scorer but not great on the glass. He could be a fill-in scorer at the forward or center position in many fantasy lineups.
Tyrus Thomas: Thomas had maybe the worst season of his career in 2012, averaging just 5.6 points and 3.7 rebounds per game. Even with the lack of talented big men on the Bobcats, it is unlikely that Thomas will get more than 25 minutes per game. Look for his averages to be similar to what they were last season.
Jeffery Taylor: Taylor is an athletic forward who can play good defense and can shoot the ball from outside. He's not expected to see many minutes at the beginning of the season but could end up being a significant contributor as the season progresses.
Kemba Walker: Walker was up and down during his rookie season. The Bobcats are hoping Walker will step in and assume the role they wanted former Bobcat D.J. Augustin to play for them. Walker is a quick, score-first point guard who is slightly undersized. He struggles to score when defended by larger guards. He needs to improve both his outside shooting and his ability to run an offense.
Gerald Henderson: Henderson was possibly the best all-around player for the Bobcats last season, returning from knee surgery and starting 55 games. He led the Bobcats with a 15.1 points per game average last season and also averaged 4.1 rebounds per game. He should make a good one-two combination with Kidd-Gilchrist and appears to have future All-Star potential.
Ben Gordon: Gordon was obtained during the offseason for a future No. 1 draft pick and Corey Maggette. He is still a very good player, but both his minutes and scoring have been on the decline in the past few years. He should come off the bench for the Bobcats while still getting close to 30 minutes per game. He will help the Bobcats spread their offense and drastically improve their three-point shooting, as he averaged just below 43 percent from beyond the arc last season.
Ramon Sessions: Sessions is still young at just 26 years of age but is entering his sixth year in the league. He has averaged double-digit points per game in three of his first five seasons and will have an opportunity to do the same as a Bobcat in 2012-13. He is a solid player who will be in a four-player guard rotation and has the ability to be one of the more steady and efficient players on the Bobcats.
Matt Carroll: Carroll is a savvy veteran with an excellent jump shot. He is a career backup guard who will give the other guards short rests and provide an occasional scoring spurt.
Bismack Biyombo: He is slightly undersized at center, but his athleticism and strength allows him to defend against many centers in the league. He has proven to be an exceptional rebounder and shotblocker, but his offensive game is still raw. He is athletic enough to score around the basket, but he is an afterthought within the Bobcats' offensive scheme. He was hindered by fatigue at the end of last season, but he should be ready to play significant minutes in 2012-13. Look for Biyombo to average near a double-double and be near the league leaders in blocked shots.
Tyrus Thomas: Thomas has never really lived up to his early first-round draft status, and last season was one of his poorest seasons statistically. With the Bobcats having depth at Thomas’ position, do not expect his numbers to improve much from last season.