As the 2014 NBA playoffs rage on, the Charlotte Bobcats will be joining the of the rest of us as they sit out the remainder of the post season on the couch. It wasn’t an ideal exit for the young Cats, having been swept by the two time defending champion Heat; but the grit and toughness they showed all season long under the blue collar influence of rookie head coach Steve Clifford and highlighted in their short playoff series, gave the national NBA audience notice that these Bobcats aren’t anything like the flops of the past.
Looking back at the start of the season, it’s amazing to see the discrepancy between the expectations most had for the team and how the season ended. Most experts had Charlotte finishing well outside of the playoff race with no more than 25-30 wins. Even after Charlotte made a splash in free agency by signing star power forward Al Jefferson, most pundits bashed the Bobcats for giving a big contract to a guy who was perceived as a black hole on offense and a non-factor on defense that would jeopardize their chance at a top ten pick in the 2014 draft. As the season started, the talking heads seemed to be right, as the Bobcats struggled to find chemistry within with new players and coaches while left without Al Jefferson’s scoring punch for the first five games due to an ankle injury. To make matters worse, Kemba Walker had seemed to regress from the progress he made in the 2012-13 season and shot a woeful .370 percent from the field in the first month of the season. Fortunately, even though Bobcats struggled to find chemistry and efficiency on the offensive side of the ball, they were able to scrap together wins using their stifling defense; giving opponents headaches and making them one of the NBA’s top 5 defensive squads.
As the season reached it’s mid point and Al Jefferson progressed back to full strength, the Bobcats found some rhythm offensively and built a fluid chemistry that was supplemented by the surprising play of Josh McRoberts. Through Jefferson’s machine like scoring and McRoberts development as a three point shooter and passer, the Bobcats offense found a consistent formula that helped them jump from a 23-30 record before the All Star break to a 20-9 record after the break.
With that post All Star break run, the Bobcats won 43 games and almost eclipsed the teams franchise best 44 wins in their 2010 Gerald Wallace era playoff season and earned the East’s 7th seed. Unfortunately, the Cats drew the worst possible match up with the Heat and missed out on playing a beatable Raptors team or collapsing Pacers team. But even with a hobbled Jefferson the Cats put up a great fight and made the Heat nervous late in two games of the series.
Justly, Charlotte’s last season ended in a way that showcased some of the old flair and passion that the original Hornets displayed in their heyday and brought fans to their games and on their feet. Moving forward, the future seems bright and the Buzz is reaching a fever pitch as Charlotte prepares to be reintroduced to the legacy, passion and spirit of the Hornets.
As the Hornets off season begins, Roberto Gato will feature daily articles review the play of key 2013-14 Bobcats members and look forward to the 2014 NBA draft and Free Agency by reviewing and profiling the player available and the moves the Hornets might be willing to make.
So keep it locked on Roberto Gato.com for all your soon to come Hornets news, analysis and features!