The Bobcats will make the playoffs as long as other franchises continue to under achieve.
Aside from Detroit, Chicago, and Cleveland, the Eastern Conference is comprised of a bunch of either inexperienced or underachieving teams; they're not necessarily lacking for talent. Atlanta, Boston, and New York all have plenty of talent, especially with the acquisitions of Allen and Randolph, respectively. The question is, can they turn that talent into cohesive teams that play hard every night? A team like Philadelphia had less talent, yet was much more competitive, especially after trading away Allen "We're Talkin' 'bout practice" Iverson. If it weren't for an immense first half, Orlando would also be with that group. However, the acquisition of Lewis vaults them to top of that group.
Miami and Washington should both rebound this year from disappointing campaigns last year, both hurt by injuries to their key stars. Arenas and Wade should return to be All-Star guards again, putting their teams in prime position for the playoffs. Toronto and New Jersey should both be very competitive. However, Toronto seems like the Sonics team of a couple of years ago that advanced far in the playoffs, only to be horrific the following year. Of course, Seattle didn't have a immense young big like Bosh to anchor the team. Meanwhile, New Jersey is like an 80s American sports car: pretty tough looking, but the wheels could fall off at any moment.
That leaves the Bucks and the Pacers. Both teams are huge question marks with Yi and O'Neal wanting out. These rosters could still change considerably before the start of the season. Who knows what an All-Star FC and a supposed blue chip prospect will get these organizations.
Oh, yeah, and the aforementioned 76ers. If the Bobcats don't make the playoffs, I hope it's because the 76ers beat everyone else out for it. After a superstar says he doesn't have enough talent around him to compete, that left over talent, plus an underrated Andre Miller, go on to become one of the hardest working teams in the East. In many ways, I think Phili and Charlotte represent the similar philosophies of play: quality team with hardworking players.