STATE OF THE FRANCHISE
After coming off an abysmal 28-120 record over the past two seasons, the Bobcats were once again in a position where they aimed to revamp their roster in the offseason. They filled some of the holes, but they still have a lot of question marks regarding the composition of their roster and how the pieces fit together. The Bobcats lacked rebounding last year, and that hurt them significantly. This summer, they brought in Al Jefferson, who averaged 9.2 rebounds per game with the Jazz last season, and rookie Cody Zeller, who averaged an impressive 16.3 points and 9.3 rebounds during the Las Vegas Summer League, where he was named the MVP. The Bobcats were probably hurt by their youth last season and now have six players with at least six years of experience, including returners Ben Gordon, Brendan Haywood, Josh McRoberts, Jannero Pargo and Ramon Sessions. They should still lean on the scoring ability of the team's two most recognizable fantasy producers from last season, Kemba Walker and Gerald Henderson, despite their new additions.
The Bobcats have plenty of flaws that need to be addressed if they expect to achieve success this season. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is a vital player due to his athleticism and defensive ability, but his inefficient jump shot makes him somewhat of a liability. Assistant coach Mark Price and head coach Steve Clifford have been working with MKG in the offseason. Price has also been working on Walker's shot selection in pick-and-roll situations. Walker could relate to Price due to their similar stature and NBA roles. Although Jefferson is an offensive asset, his inability to be an efficient defender in the past may continue to hurt a Bobcats team that has been laughably inefficient on defense in the past few seasons. The Bobcats will have to lock down players on the perimeter so they don't have to worry about Jefferson having to slide and pick up more athletic players. If they're able to address these flaws in their roster, the Cats could get out of the NBA's basement, where they have been trapped for several years.
PLAYING TIME DISTRIBUTION
Jefferson will absorb most of the minutes at center due to the lack of talent between Bismack Biyombo and Haywood. Biyombo averaged 27 minutes per game last year and Haywood averaged 19, but expect those numbers to decrease because the Bobcats have finally acquired a talented player at center. Biyombo is more likely to average 10-15 minutes per game while Haywood will average closer to five minutes per game. Kidd-Gilchrist and Jeffery Taylor should split minutes once again since the Bobcats didn't make many changes at small forward. Henderson will get most of the playing time at shooting guard, say 30 minutes or so, while Ben Gordon will be stuck at around 15 minutes per game unless he is able to improve his consistency and has a better relationship with his new coach than his last coach. Expect Walker, the second most efficient player behind Henderson, and arguably the flashiest player on the team, to play at least 30 minutes per game once again with the rest of the minutes at point guard being split by Sessions and Pargo. If Kidd-Gilchrist is able to improve his jumper, expect him to average about 30 minutes per game at small forward, while Jeffery Taylor will pick up the rest of those minutes. However, if Taylor continues to play as impressively as he did during the NBA Las Vegas Summer League, he is likely to pick up more minutes. The power forward position is a little more difficult to evaluate because it is where the Bobcats have the most depth. Zeller is likely to start and play at least 20 minutes per game if he continues to be as effective as he was this summer. McRoberts will probably pick up about 10 minutes or so per game, while Jeff Adrien and Anthony Tolliver should pick up the remaining minutes and substitute in when they are needed. Those two are role players and will not be looked towards to make any major contribution for the squad, barring any serious injuries to McRoberts and Zeller.
Al Jefferson: The Bobcats have struggled to fill their void at center for several years. Fortunately, Jefferson solidifies that position and should make an impact on the team right away with his offensive prowess and rebounding ability. However, he has struggled mightily in the past when he is called upon in tough defensive matchups, which doesn't bode well for the Bobcats improving their defense much this season.
Bismack Biyombo: While Biyombo is praised for his ability to play lockdown defense, his offense is not quite there. He averaged 4.8 points and 0.4 assists per game during the 2012-13 season. He may end up being one of the bigger draft busts of the last three seasons.
Brendan Haywood: Haywood provides the team with veteran support. Although he is a solid defensive player, his offensive numbers are discouraging, maybe even more discouraging than Biyombo's. Expect him to get minimal playing time as a role player unless Biyombo proves himself to be more of a risk than an asset.
Cody Zeller: Zeller will likely start for the Bobcats during the 2013-14 season and for good reason. He averaged 16.3 points, 9.3 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 0.8 blocks over 32 minutes of playing time throughout four of the NBA Las Vegas Summer League contests. If Zeller is able to continue knocking down perimeter jumpers and finishing strong around the rim like he did in college, he will most likely be one of the Cats' top players right away.
Josh McRoberts: With the Bobcats' pickup of Jefferson and Zeller, McRoberts' playing time will drop considerably. However, expect him to be efficient when he is given the chance to play due to his impressive shooting percentage (.505) during his 2013 stint with the Bobcats and his rebounding.
Anthony Tolliver: Tolliver will likely be a role player. Don't expect him to be a big fantasy producer with the Bobcats as a result of the team's depth at forward.
Jeff Adrien: At the end of the season, it looked as though Adrien played his last game with the team. However, they decided to keep him despite his averages of only 4.0 points, 0.4 steals, 0.5 blocks, 0.7 assists and 3.7 rebounds in the 2012-13 season. He will probably be looked toward as a depth player and may be asked to play alongside Tolliver off the bench if McRoberts or Zeller are injured.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist: Kidd-Gilchrist's jumper will hopefully improve in the offseason under the tutelage of Price. He's an effective player at basically all other aspects of the game, but this flaw impacts his ability to score. If his jump shot is improved, expect him to become a much more effective player this season.
Jeffery Taylor: Taylor played in 77 games last season and started 29. He averaged 11.3 points over 36 minutes, and his scoring could improve if he takes advantage of the opportunities he will likely be presented with on the court. During the Las Vegas Summer League he showed aggressiveness that fans have not seen from him up to this point in his NBA career. This season should help determine if last year's performance was typical of Taylor in the NBA or if it was just a stepping stone first-year on his way to a productive career as a role player.
Gerald Henderson: Henderson had an impressive second half last season, finishing with an average of 15.5 points over 31 minutes in 68 games. He shot a mediocre 33 percent from beyond the arc, but there have been reports that he was working on improving that percentage in the offseason. The team's addition of Zeller and Jefferson should spread the floor and give him more looks. However, having Jefferson in Charlotte may mean that Henderson's offensive numbers will dwindle slightly if Jefferson ends up being in control of the offense due to his veteran status and talent on offense.
Kemba Walker: Walker is one of the best offensive players on the team. He has shown flashes of clutch offensive ability when the team is in need. Walker improved his shot selection last season and became a better overall player, sinking 42 percent of his shot attempts. However, he still struggles shooting threes, where he shot 32 percent. Price has been working with Walker in the offseason to help him improve his floater, shot selection and decisions in pick-and-rolls. If Walker is able to improve these aspects of his game, he'll continue to become a more effective scorer, which is exactly what the Bobcats need considering Zeller is likely to be used to spread the floor and open up lanes for Walker.
Ben Gordon: Gordon is likely to lose minutes to younger, more athletic and motivated Bobcats' guards. He had an inconsistent season last year and seemingly only made headlines when he was involved in something negative, such as him getting into altercations with ex-coach Mike Dunlap.
Ramon Sessions: Sessions missed all games after March 6 due to a sprained ACL. His role on the team will be determined by whether or not Pargo will be able to step up and act as a quality backup to Walker.
Jannero Pargo: Pargo will most likely compete against Ramon Sessions for playing time behind Walker. He averaged 8.4 points, 1.9 assists, 1.2 rebounds, 0.8 steals and 16 minutes over 18 games last season with the Cats last season.
Gerald Henderson: Henderson improved significantly last year and became a quality fantasy pick as a result of his scoring. He was one of the Cats' most effective fantasy players, especially during the second half of last season. Due to his limited contributions from three-pont range in the past, a more developed long-range game could lead to Henderson having significantly increased value next season.
Ben Gordon: Ben Gordon is the kind of player who will drop 18 points one night and then score less than eight points three nights in a row. He's not the kind of player you would want on your fantasy team unless you are in a deep league. His 11.2 point average from last season really doesn't do his season justice. Gordon accepted a massive player option with the Bobcats despite the fact that he disagrees with his role on the team, and that suggests a move to another team could be a mutually-beneficial development.