The Charlotte Bobcats’ season ended in disappointing fashion, once again failing to win the franchise’s first ever playoff game after being swept by the Miami Heat. Despite the early exit, this organization and its fans have a lot to look forward to and should consider this season a resounding success. The rebuilding days are in the past, and this organization has a great system in place to be a consistent winner. There is nowhere to go but up, and the best part of it all is next year they return to being the Charlotte Hornets. Maybe that is all it will take to turn them into a legitimate contender.
The Bobcats more or less waved the white flag by sitting star center Al Jefferson in Game Four, resulting in a 109-98 defeat, Charlotte’s 20th consecutive loss to Miami. The Bobcats also finish their existence with an 0-8 playoff record, but all of that is in the past. This team has good young talent to build around and arguably the NBA’s most dangerous offensive center in Jefferson. Charlotte also won 43 games this season after going 28-120 over the previous two. The Bobcats doubled their win total for the second consecutive season, a feat no one else in league history has accomplished.
Kemba Walker and Gerald Henderson have meshed into a formidable backcourt on both ends of the floor. Rookie Cody Zeller showed promise late in the season, and second-year forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is bound to improve even more. The franchise could also wind up with a second first-round draft pick in a loaded draft class should the team get a little luck in the lottery and have the Pistons wind up picking later than eighth. If the Bobcats can find a way to pick up one or two more scorers, whether it be in the draft or free agency, it could be all it takes to push them to the next level.
Steve Clifford changed the culture of this locker room immediately upon his arrival. Charlotte had a number of opportunities to give up this season, whether it was early on when Jeff Taylor went down for the season and Kidd-Gilchrist went down soon thereafter, or even in the playoffs when Jefferson got hurt. Charlotte never quit, and that is the most important thing to be taken from this season. Although the Bobcats got swept, Miami did not dominate them at any point in the series. Charlotte did get outperformed slightly late in the games, but for the most part they stood toe-to-toe with the two-time defending champs and held their own, but they just did not have enough firepower to get it done. That will all change since the team is no longer the laughing stock of basketball. Jefferson and Walker and Clifford are enough to keep this train on track and attract scorers to come to town and elevate the franchise even more.
Charlotte Bobcats fans have nothing to be ashamed of following the sweep courtesy of Miami in the first round. This team has a very bright future, and this overachieving squad left many things for fans to hang their hats on going into the off-season. They truly appear to be one or two key players away from being a big threat.
Commentary by Justin Hussong