Welcome to “Pretty Much Screwed,” our 2012-13 guide to the upcoming NBA season, in which we identify the reasons why your favorite team might have to start looking forward to 2013-2014 — and highlight at least one reason for you to be hopeful. Today: the Charlotte Bobcats, the worst team in the league.
You don’t need me to tell you that the Bobcats are fucked. You knew this already.
They won 7 games last season, lost 59 (59!), set a record for single-season futility with a .106 winning percentage, and nearly caused poor Paul Silas to crawl into a hole and die somewhere.
Here’s what Silas said following Charlotte’s 104-84 season-ending loss to the Knicks on April 27th.
Somebody asked Paul Silas what it’s like to coach the worst team in the NBA this season.
“In history!” Silas corrected, after his team lost by 20 or more points for the 22nd time this season.
Look at that! Paul was cutting off reporters because they weren’t accurately portraying just how bad his team was! There is nothing as simultaneously sad and fantastic as a head coach hearing his team is bad, then correcting that person because his team was actually worse. Your problem now, Mike Dunlap.
You know what I hated most about last year’s Charlotte Bobcats? They weren’t even a fun bad team.
Sometimes, a bad team’s slow-motion implosion is entertaining to watch. Maybe the cast of characters is particularly volatile (the 2004-05 Trail Blazers, those 2000-2004 Bengals teams) the fans are particularly abusive (every Knicks team for the last ten years), or the play so gallingly awful that a river of entertaining YouTube clips springs from it (the 2011-12 Wizards, the 2012 Houston Astros).
Not so with last year’s Bobcats. There was nothing funny or ironic or entertaining about them. They were just really bad, in the most depressing way possible. Don’t believe me? Watch this video compilation of their top 10 plays from last year. There is a made three-pointer in there. (REMINDER: there is nothing amusing about made three-pointers.)
And I don’t mean to be a complete downer, Bobcats fans, but I have bad news.
The 2012-13 Bobcats are pretty much screwed because the stench of death surrounding their franchise will take years to get rid of.
This is year one of the
stench removal rebuilding process. In a best-case scenario, Michael Jordan continues to play nice with general manager Rich Cho and let’s him remain somewhat autonomous. So far, as Ball Don’t Lie points out, they haven’t had too much to argue about: payroll has been slashed, and their first round draft pick (we’ll get to him in a second) was a no-brainer. Not a lot to argue about there.
Because they’re rebuilding, this year’s team isn’t significantly better than last year’s. Ben Gordon was added, Corey Maggette was subtracted, but besides that, the talent level is about the same. This is still a young roster, and with time they can develop into a good team if Cho and Dunlap are allowed to do their jobs. Unfortunately, “giving people time” and “allowing them to do their jobs” aren’t classes currently being offered at the Michael Jordan School of Professional Basketball Team Ownership.
The Bobcats will be better, because it will be almost impossible for them to be worse. But in the short term, things won’t be drastically different for a team that ended their season with a 23-game losing streak.
What do you think, Bobcats fans?
(Note: MJ is not giving you a refund.)
As bad as things look for this year’s Bobcats, there is sliver of hope for this woebegone band of misfits.
One reason you might not be screwed: This guy.
And that’s about it. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is being billed as a Scottie Pippen type, a player who could one day be relied on to shut down the best wing player on the opposing team. His development — and the development of the rest of the Bobcats’ young players — will at least provide a little bit of hope for a fanbase that is in desperate need of it.
Actual season prediction: 11-71, last in the East. Hope will only get you so far, and again, this team is a) rebuilding, b) not markedly better than last year’s version. On the bright side, if Jordan lets Cho breathe, and things move in the right direction, their percentage of fans wearing brown bags over their heads will go down slightly.