Through the first seven games of the 2012/13 season, the Bobcats have a record of 4-3. They are just three victories away from tying their win total from all of last season.
Am I missing something here?
I’m not downplaying Charlotte’s early success at all. I didn’t see it coming.
None of you did either.
The team currently sits 10th in the league in scoring (98.5), 8th in rebounding (43.7), 10th in steals (9.0) and 4th in blocks (7.5). The defense is still of concern as the Bobcats allow the third most points in the league to their opposition (102.0) and the 9th highest shooting percentage (44.8%).
I’m sure all Bobcat fans out there (who are still around after last years “Gigli” of a season) are looking past some of those numbers and simply enjoying the fact that the team is above .500 and playing winning basketball.
It’s been a while since I’ve been able to incorporate the words “Bobcats” and “winning basketball” into the same sentence.
So what’s the magic formula? What exactly has changed from 2011/12 to now?
For one, starting point guard Kemba Walker has begun to channel his inner UConn Husky and is playing like the leader and winner Charlotte always wanted him to be. He’s averaging 19.0 points and 5.1 assists a game on 43% shooting from the field, which are all massive increases from his totals last season.
“Cardiac Kemba” also made an appearance in last nights game against Minnesota, hitting the game-winner with 0.7 seconds left on the clock.
The #2 overall pick in this summers draft Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has also shown signs that he won’t be Michael Jordan’s next “Adam Morrison”. I’m still not sold on him being a guy you can build your franchise around, but he’s still a significant piece in the rebuilding process for the Bobcats. Through seven games, MGK is putting up 11.1 points and 6.9 rebounds a night. As the season rolls on and he better adjusts to the NBA style of play and defending the much larger forwards around the league, I believe Kidd-Gilchrist could be a true sleeper for the Rookie of the Year award, especially if the Cats success continues.
I’m also liking what I’m seeing from Charlottes other offseason acquisitions. Ramon Sessions is currently second on the team in scoring at 16.3 points, Brandon Haywood is pulling down 8.2 rebounds a game and Ben Gordon has found his infamous shooting touch once again (42% from behind the arc, 46% from the field). It’s the little moves like those that can make a world of difference for a team looking to crawl its way out of the cellar so to speak.
I suppose the big question now is if we should all be buying the Charlotte Bobcats as a legitimate threat for that 8th seed in the Eastern Conference playoff race.
It’s reasonable to ask. If the playoffs begun today (again, this is extremely early), the Cats would be slotted in at spot #7.
They look good. They’re not a pushover anymore. I didn’t have them winning a single game until midway through November when I made my early season predictions for the Southeast Division.
They shut me up, plain and simple.
Whether it’s the Bobcats winning start, the Los Angeles Lakers tumultuous beginnings or the New York Knicks being undefeated, it’s still way to early to start buying or selling certain teams at the moment.
It won’t be until early January when we start seeing each NBA team for what they truly are and where they will be headed once April comes.
Charlotte Bobcat fans can take solace in this fact; the team is no joke. You don’t start 4-3 after a 7 win season the prior year and not make huge strides both on and off the court.
There’s a lot to be excited about. The youth movement is already paying dividends and optimism is at an all-time high.
Again, I could be changing my tune if Charlotte finishes with just 20 wins on the year.
Christopher Walder is a sports blogger and lead editor for Sir Charles in Charge. You may follow him on Twitter @WalderSports