Team Preview #23: Charlotte Bobcats
by Eric Wong AKA Roto EvilSeptember 2nd, 2008
LAST SEASONThe Bobcats went 32-50 under 1st year coach Sam Vincent. Their 4-year franchise record now stands at 109-219 (.332) and they've yet to make the Playoffs.
Adam Morrison & Sean May both missed the entire season and Gerald Wallace missed 20 games, but even if they had stayed healthy, I don't think they would have been a .500 team.
OFFSEASON MOVESKey Additions: Larry Brown, DJ Augustin, Alexis Ajinca, Shannon Brown
Key Losses: Sam Vincent, Jeff McInnis, Earl Boykins, Derek Anderson
Changes start at the top, where Vincent was fired to bring in Hall of Fame coach Larry Brown. Altho his last stint with the Knicks didn't go so well, Brown is a proven winner (1239-907 career record) who enjoys taking on new challenges. Excluding his one season with New York, he's taken every franchise that he's coached (8 of them) into the Playoffs.
Charlotte also decided to get younger, as they let veteran PG's McInnis & Boykins go and replaced them with 20-year old D.J. Augustin, the #9 pick in the '08 draft. In his sophomore season at Texas, Augustin scored 19.2 points and dished out 5.8 assists to just 2.8 turnovers. With the 20th pick in the '08 draft, the Bobcats gambled on Alexis Ajinca, a 7-footer from France with a 7-9 wingspan and a sweet shooting touch. However, Ajinca is quite raw and it will be awhile before he contributes. At shooting guard, they also replaced the 34-year old vet Anderson with the unproven 22-year old Shannon Brown.
ROTATION / PLAYING TIMERaymond Felton averaged 37.7 minutes per game last season. It was usually at point guard, but he also played the "2" when McInnis was in the game. Now that the 6-4 McInnis has been replaced by the 5-10 Augustin, Felton will play almost strictly PG and see 34-36 minutes of action. I'm projecting the rookie to back him up and get 12-14 mpg to start the season, and possibly more later on. Jason Richardson averaged 38.4 mpg last season at both swingman spots, and he should get the same amount of playing time in '08-09. Matt Carroll played 25.1 mpg last season, but his minutes will likely be around 18 if both Wallace and Morrison are healthy. Carroll has a leg up Morrison due to his health & experience, so don't expect more than 12 mpg from the former college star. Shannon Brown will get to show off his hops in garbage time once again.
The absence of Sean May last season forced Gerald Wallace to play a lot of power forward, and the Bobcats were actually a much better team with him at the 4. In '08-09, you can expect him to spend considerable time at each position and get 38+ minutes once again. But which forward will start alongside him? If you ask me, I'd go with Jared Dudley (14 starts, 19.0 mpg). The former Screaming Eagle had a very solid rookie campaign, and like Wallace, can play both forward spots. However, if Larry Brown goes big, he may turn to Nazr Mohammed (29 starts, 23.3 mpg). And then there's Sean May, who missed all of last season but started 8 games and played 23.9 mpg in '06-07. I'm going to project 22-24 minutes for Dudley, 20-22 minutes for Nazr, and garbage time for May until he gets into shape. At center, Emeka Okafor should get around 34 minutes of PT, while Nazr & Ryan Hollins back him up.
DON'T SLEEP ON: Gerald WallaceYou all know about Gerald Wallace. When healthy, he's an elite defender, one of the league's top high-flyers, and a serious stat-stuffer. Unfortunately, he's missed 69 games over the past 4 years and has never played more than 72 games in a season. As a result, his nickname is "Crash" and fantasy owners know that he can't be counted on for 82 games. He's a high-risk, high-reward pick, but if you're feeling risky, here are some reasons to draft him.
For starters, he turned 26 in July, so he's just entering the prime of his career. He also has a new coach in Larry Brown. In a recent interview, his old coach (Vincent) stated that, "if he accepts the role, and understands that that role can make the team a whole lot better, he's going to become even better." While a 1st year coach couldn't always convince Wallace to accept his role, perhaps a Hall of Fame coach will fare a little better. And if "accepting his role" means taking fewer threes, I'm sure fantasy owners would support that.
G-Wallace did make a career-high 1.1 treys per game last season, but he shot just 32.1% from beyond the arc, which made his FG% plummet to 44.9% after shooting over 50% FG in each of the two seasons prior. You should also consider his .9 blocks per game in '07-08, which was his lowest average in 4 years. He may not ever match the 2.1 blocks that he averaged in '05-06, but somewhere in between would be nice. Bottom Line: Many people will shy away from Wallace on draft day because of his injury history, but if you're willing to take a risk, you could be handsomely rewarded (like Baron Davis owners were last season).
BE CAREFUL OF: Raymond FeltonI'm not a big fan of Raymond Felton. At first glance, his 14.4 points, 7.4 assists, and 1.2 steals from last season look nice, but when you consider that he needed 37.6 minutes per game to put up those numbers, you realize just how unproductive he is. By comparison, if you take T.J. Ford's stats from last season and convert them to 37.6 minutes, he would have averaged 19.4 points, 9.8 assists, and 1.7 steals. Hollinger's Player Efficiency Rating supports this, as Ford put up a sweet 20.3 PER last season, compared to a sub-par 13.8 for Felton. Who would YOU rather have running your team?
Now consider that Charlotte just drafted a 5-foot-10 point guard in D.J. Augustin. Clearly, they're not convinced that Felton is their PG of the future (or even present). You should also factor in the returns of Sean May and Adam Morrison, because more healthy & able bodies means fewer minutes for Raymond. And when your per-minute stats are as bad as Felton's are, every second counts. Bottom Line: If you use a Top 80 pick on him, you're going to regret it!
ROUND BY ROUND TARGETS(Where you should draft these guys in an 8-cat Roto league with 12 teams and 14 man rosters)
Richardson: 3rd - 4th