Welcome aboard...and nice first post!
So, I guess I decided to post something on a forum for once... although this is my first time writing a single post, I’ve followed all the Charlotte basketball forums from way back, from when there was a bobcatsfans.com, and actually even all the way back when there was a hornetsreport.com and other sites from that stolen team. I guess I was always interested in extra info on the team that the Observer writers never provided, but I just never felt inclined to write anything.
Anyway, I don’t need to bore you with any more background, I just wanted to share a few of my thoughts on the team on the eve of the season. Sorry if it’s too long to read and not groundbreaking...
1. The Big Trade
When I first heard of the Okafor-Chandler trade, I of course was shocked. I didn’t think Okafor was on the block, and while not a star, he was a solid, reliable part of the team that I didn’t think necessarily needed to be upgraded yet. Plus, I felt that if we were going to move him, that we could’ve gotten more value for him than just Chandler by himself.
That being said, there’s been something that I’ve been thinking about - more than just what those two bring to the court - that does in fact improve the team more than people may realize. I know that the passion of both players and all their intangibles have been discussed to death over the summer, but I think the biggest overall effect from the trade could be that unquantifiable and least understood category in sports - Team Chemistry.
While everyone liked Okafor – he’s a great guy, smart, friendly, all you could ask for in a person – I just never heard anything of any relationships that grew off the court with him. There were no reports of him hanging out with Raymond or Crash, or any teammate for that matter, having fun with the media, etc. I know he’s a quiet guy, but there seemed to be no strong bond with teammates or the community. To me, he seemed like the guy in your office that is great to talk to about everything, is reliable, insightful, very helpful, but at the end of the day, you’re not going to hang out with him on the weekends, or ever talk to him on the phone. He’s just someone nice that you enjoy working with.
On the other hand, with Chandler, you immediately heard reports of how much it hurt Chris Paul to lose him, how he was his best friend and everybody in the locker room loved him. And already in Charlotte, it seems he’s been much more interactive with both the media and teammates, even while injured on the sideline. It just seems he’s already bonded more with the team in a couple months than Okafor ever did in his 5 years here. And anyone that’s ever played competitive sports knows that team chemistry can be as important to team success as actual talent, if not more so (we’ve all played in those YMCA leagues where the team of old white guys somehow always seemed to make the championship games while beating up on the younger, more athletic teams). All things being equal, if you’re closer to the guy you’re battling with, you’re going to put in more effort, do everything in your power to back them up because you know they’re there for you.
2. Point Guards
As a follower of these forums, I know this has been a point of contention since the team was created, so there’s no need to get into those arguments. My only comments are that Ray is EXACTLY the player you want on your team, whether he starts or not. I think he has all the ability in the world, we’ve seen flashes of it from time to time (such as when he dominated Cleveland). I think that game his rookie year actually hurt him, as it set expectations for him to be in the same class as Paul and Deron - he just has not been able to match their consistency at all, for various reasons. But whether he can rise to near all-star caliber or not, its his warrior mentality, along with his professionalism, that every team needs on its roster to take it to the next level.
However, watching DJ play, you can just see the ease with which the game comes to him, the natural ability and that “extra” gear that seems to accompany the stars of the game. Other than strength, I don’t see why he can’t become a better version of Jameer Nelson in the future. They both are small, but can shoot and get to the rim at will. I think DJ is more naturally talented than Jameer, with much more potential, and with all the veteran “warriors” we have on the team, it can only positively affect his work ethic and professionalism, which I think is the perfect storm for developing a star.
So in the end, I want to lock both guards up long term and have the basketball version of “Double Trouble” in the NBA. The only issue I think is that Felton still has room for growth, and he would not want to spend the prime of his career playing backup. But I think there’s no reason to deal him until DJ’s rookie contract is up, and we then have to decide how much we’re willing to pay for the position.
Yes, barring our yearly injury curse, I think the Cats are in for one of the lower seeds. I know all the prognosticators state how all the other teams improved in the East, and we stood still, blah blah blah... but every year, these forecasters are wrong on several teams. Every year, there is a team or two that just puts it together, that it suddenly clicks for them, and nobody saw it coming. And every year, there are a couple teams that seemed to make great moves and are projected high, that can’t get it going right and slip down.
I remember Philly a couple years ago coming out of nowhere to get a 7th seed, and they were projected as a 14 or 15 team. Same with Sacramento a few years ago when they randomly made the playoffs, and of course Golden State. On the flip side, it seemed New Jersey was always projected high when they had Kidd, Jefferson and Carter, and they completely flopped and missed the playoffs a couple times. Same with Phoenix (you mean a full year of Nash, Shaq, and Stoudemire couldn’t make the playoffs?? What analyst predicted that?). And who really saw Miami crashing that bad a couple years ago? I know its easy to say you did in retrospect, but I remember people predicting a 4th seed for them that year, and they ended up the worst team in the league.
So... I know I’m probably one of the few optimists left, but I think it’ll be us this time. The pieces, while not perfect, fit better than they have at any time. We have athleticism, length, and quickness unlike anytime before, and I can say we are finally above average in basketball IQ for once in our existence (thank you LB). While we still have major flaws on the roster to compete for a championship, I think we definitely have the elements for a playoff spot. Better athletes, another year of coaching from LB, better team chemistry, a good draft – I think we improved in many ways that outside observers can’t see on paper. I honestly do not see how people can say with certainty that Toronto, Philadelphia, and Detroit, with all their changes, are going to be better than us. Even Washington and Miami are questions to me. Other than the top 4, I think this year is more wide open than even the past couple years.
In the end, my bold prediction is a 6th-8th seed. Unless of course Crash dives for a loose ball into our bench and shatters the knees of Chandler, Diaw, Mohammed, and himself, LB loses it and trades half the roster for George Lynch #3, 4, 5, and 6, or Jordan loses the team in a bet to a Russian billionaire.
Thanks for reading my novel, for anybody that made it this far.
Welcome aboard...and nice first post!
Hope Resurrected: "I think I can bring an attitude to a team as far as, ‘All right, no matter what, we are not losing this game'." - Kemba Walker
"Its okay to be bad; just so long as you're bad ass." - Keetch
"I don't care if he uses a sophisticated pulley and tackle system to get his shot off if the bitch goes in."-Mustachio
Yeah you've brought me out of the depths to post myself, good post! Hahah last bit cracked me up.
"Sam Vincent? To be honest with you, I don't know what his concept was." - Gerald Wallace
Beautiful. Great post. Hopefully true. Welcome to the forums, and hopefully your insights will be posted regularly
And that last bit was very funny. Although, I could somehow see it happening...
Welcome to the planet Thundercats and would love to read more on your insight into the team...We are playoff bound as long as we don't have too many injuries and such.... Go Bobcats....
......Go Bobcats!!!!! (Hornets) ..
So everything that I said in my long thoughtful post, take the exact opposite meaning. Can't say that I foresaw us setting a new franchise record tonight. At least I got to see a historic moment.
Well, being the self-proclaimed optimist, we...uh, lets see...good stuff.... ummmm - nice uniforms... I liked Curry's commentating... hi-def tv...
What we can take from this though, is that the lolcats saw a championship level squad up close and personal, and how they operate. While we don't have their pieces (I would kill for their frontline), they displayed incredible ball movement, always, always found the open man, and played extremely hard all game - even their scrubs came in and went all out, extending the lead. If anything, our guys learned from this basketball clinic what the elite teams do to be the best, and not do what they actually did today. I give our guys the benefit of the doubt, they're a pretty smart group, and I think they'll definitely learn and grow from this. I hope.
One thing to take from last night is hopefully it can't get worse? (I really hope so)
Get at me on twitter @dcarnys