Reporting Colin Hoggard
Just 48 hours from their season opener, several questions surround the Bobcats season. Here’s a quick look at five of the biggest questions for Coach Clifford’s charges:
Does Kemba take a step forward or make a leap?
Through Kemba’s first two seasons, his fans have lamented a lack of a pick-and-roll partner for him. With the addition of Al Jefferson and Cody Zeller, as well as a full season with Josh McRoberts, Kemba will be playing with the three best big men he’s had the privilege of teaming with during his early career. Walker has the rare ability to get anywhere on the court with his dribble and seeing him work with multiple capable bigs in the pick-and-roll should be fun for Bobcats fans. Kemba improved his shot selection last season and should have easier opportunities for assists this year. Some have suggested Kemba’s ultimate role in the NBA is as a scoring guard off the bench. This season gives Walker the best chance to prove he can be a legitimate floor general. How much he improves will be one of the biggest factors in the Cats success.
Will there be a trade?
In each of Rich Cho’s two seasons with the team there have been two trades each year. This season, two veterans, Ben Gordon and Ramon Sessions, are in the final year of their contracts and the Cats still possess first round picks from Portland and Detroit. In Cho’s first two years, the Bobcats have yet to pull the trigger on a big deal, but with the assets in place, they could do just that in pursuit of a playoff spot.
Can their defense be better?
The Bobcats were the worst defensive team last season, allowing almost 1.09 points per possession (the lowest playoff teams last season, the Nets and Lakers, allowed 1.036). While they addressed their need for bigs during the off-season, neither Jefferson or Zeller will confused for a defensive force. Can Coach Clifford and his staff scheme their way to making this team defense better? One hidden way they can help their defense would be by slowing their offense down. With Jefferson and Zeller the team should be a more efficient halfcourt offensive team and with Coach Clifford’s focus on transition defense, the team should be able to improve their defensive efficiency, but will they be able to get stops in crunch time?
Who gets the most minutes at the 3 (and 4)?
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Jeff Taylor were taken in the same draft, but now in year two, could the second round selection out perform the second pick in the draft? Rick Bonnell has already weighed in suggesting that should be the case and when considering the projected starting five’s lack of a shooter, Taylor would seem to be the better fit, especially when it comes to maximizing the reward from adding Al Jefferson. The issue that immediately jumps out would be MKG and Biz, two offensively limited guys, playing together on the second unit. With the Bobcats presumably not having big leads in the fourth quarters, Taylor’s shot could very well be needed. At the power forward spot, could veteran Josh McRoberts play more than Cody Zeller (another top five pick)? This seems less likely, but again with the lack of shooting in the starting backcourt, McRoberts could be a better stretch option this season for the Cats.
What will be their best lineup?
This question will almost certainly take some time to answer, but the most complete lineup doesn’t appear to be the starting lineup. Dovetailing off the previous question, pairing MKG and Taylor or Zeller and McRoberts on the court together will be something to keep an eye on, while acknowledging both are matchup dependent. The lineup I’m most interested to see: Kemba, MKG, Taylor, (Zeller/McRoberts), and Big Al. It’s also going to be worth keeping an eye on whether or not Al and Biz can play together.
Have comments on these questions or queries of your own? Interact with Colin on twitter: @ColinWFNZ