What happens when you add a career 18.3 points per game scorer and a front line that averaged 26.3 points and 18.0 rebounds per game when healthy last year to a team that finished 2006-07 with a 12-8 mark over its last 20 games?
That's what the Charlotte Bobcats wanted to find out.
They made a splash with a draft-night deal for seven-year veteran Jason Richardson, and they're hopefully getting Emeka Okafor back for a full season. But early in camp, they learned that Sean May will miss all of the 2007-08 campaign, requiring microfracture surgery on his right knee.
Still, team President Michael Jordan spent the summer taking care of business as Charlotte re-signed both Gerald Wallace and Matt Carroll, giving the team a marquee athlete and pure shooter in its arsenal as it establishes itself as a franchise.
If you scan the Bobcats roster you can see that they are gathering the pieces to be competitive. They have the 7-footer in Primoz Brezec, who missed 22 games with back trouble last season but averaged 12.7 points and 6.7 rebounds over the 2004-05 and 2006-07 seasons when healthy. They have the tried and tested international star turned explosive role player in Walter Herrmann who scored in double digits in 16 out of his last 17 games in í06-07 as a rookie. They have the gamer and former college stud in Adam Morrison who averaged double-digit scoring as a rook and plays with a vigor that canít be coached. And they have a point guard in Raymond Felton who already has a NCAA title under his belt and who increased his output in points, rebounds, assists and steals last season from the season before.
The team still might be a year or two away from really coming together, but it is certainly on the rise.
Felton needs to work on his shooting (career 38.7 percent shooter from the field), but his game management skills are improving and the addition of Jason Richardson should give him a running mate when he pushes the tempo, which he likes to do. Carroll has a pure stroke and should fill in as the back-up two, similar to Brent Barry
ís role in San Antonio.
When healthy, Okafor, May and Prezec are a nice collection of bigs. But without, May the frontline is a little thin. Otherwise, Gerald Wallace is one of the most versatile small forwards in the league and at 25-years old and coming off a career year, he might have just scratched the surface at what he can do. Herrmann has played in so many big games with the Argentinean National Team that, despite only entering his second season in the NBA, he is probably their most established veteran other than Richardson.
-- Dave McMenamin
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Heís scored over 8,000 points, been named a Slam Dunk Champion and was a key cog on one of the biggest playoff upsets in NBA history last season, but even more is expected of Jason Richardson in Charlotte.
Coming into the NBA out of Michigan State and rocking the No. 23, the ultra-athletic shooting guard was expected by many to take the league by storm. Through the first six years of his career, however, he only managed to take it by ďscattered showers.Ē Itís not that Richardson hasnít been good Ė career averages of 18.3, 5.4 rebounds and 3.2 assists are certainly that Ė but itís that he hasnít been great. His first year in Golden State, it was Antawn Jamisonís team. His second, it was Jamisonís and Gilbert Arenasí. His third year he did all the heavy lifting, but the Warriors finished just 37-45. Then Golden State brought in Baron Davis and years four through six of J-Richís career were spent deferring to Davis.
This Bobcats team was just waiting for somebody to come in and make it easier on the young pups as they develop and Richardson has the chance to be that guy.
-- Dave McMenamin
||The Bobcats sported 28 different starting lineups last season, ranked second in the NBA behind the Golden State Warriors and their 35 different starting units.
Vincent was a bench player for the Celtics on the day that a young Michael Jordan lit Boston up for 63 points and later a teammate of MJ's on the Bulls. There is obviously trust between the two. Now Vincent has to rise to the level of expectations that come with being hand-picked by Jordan, something that isn't easy to do. Just ask Kwame Brown.
-- Dave McMenamin
KNOW YOUR BOBCATS
Walter Hermann married his wife Alana in July 2006, and briefly interrupted his Florida honeymoon to join the Bobcats Summer League team in the Orlando Summer League for one game.
Charlotte is doing the right things. They're heading in the right direction. I like the trade for Richardson. He's played well in the playoffs.
The one glaring thing that's going to haunt them for a while is that Adam Morrison isn't the player that they thought he was going to be. And I don't know where's he's going to find his minutes, and that's a shame for the third pick in the draft. They've got Richardson and Wallace and then you've got Herrmann with the way he played at the end of last year. And then you just gave a new contract to Matt Carroll. So, there's your four guys at the two-three spots.
Okafor is very good defensively, but how are they going to score down low? Success in the NBA depends a lot on getting to the line and Okafor and Brezec just don't do that for you.
-- Eastern Conference Scout