As of February 10, the Charlotte Bobcats have a 22-29 record and currently hold the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference standings. Considering the Bobcats only won 21 games all of last season, and have won just 28 games combined over the last two seasons, there is reason to believe this season has already been a success no matter what happens over the course of the last 31 games.
The Bobcats have the sixth best defensive rating in the NBA, allowing 101 points per 100 possessions, after being one of the worst defensive teams the last two seasons. Head coach Steve Clifford has instilled his defensive principles and the ‘Cats are playing better defense than anyone could have imagined after just 51 games.
The defense has been so good that it has covered up for one of the worst NBA offenses, as Charlotte ranks 27th in the league in scoring, averaging only 94.5 points per game.
Due to the fact that the Bobcats have been in the playoff race all season long, it is hard to imagine the February 20th NBA trade deadline passing without Charlotte not looking into making some trades in order to improve their team.
Obviously, when looking to improve the 2014 Bobcats it would be smart to start by looking at how the team can improve on the offensive end of the floor. Three-point shooting is an area that Charlotte could desperately look to improve at the trade deadline.
As the team stands now, Anthony Tolliver is the Bobcats’ only true long-range shooter that scares opposing defenses. However, the rest of Tolliver’s game isn’t good enough to warrant 30-35 minutes per game. Kemba Walker is also a solid three-point shooter, but he is much better attacking the rim by taking the ball to the basket.
Gerald Henderson and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Charlotte’s two starting wing players, are below average three-point shooters when compared to other starting wing players across the NBA.
If Charlotte could add a player that has the skillset to spread opposing defenses via three-pointers, it would open up the driving lanes for Walker, Henderson, and Kidd-Gilchrist, as well as open up the paint for center Al Jefferson.
Jefferson is averaging 20 points and 10.6 rebounds per game even with opposing defenses collapsing the paint on every possession due to a lack of outside shooting by the Bobcats.
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Regardless of what the Charlotte Bobcats’ front office decides to do at this year’s trade deadline, one thing is for certain – this trade deadline will be very important in deciding what direction this franchise is headed.
If the Bobcats decide to “buy” at this trade deadline instead of simply staying pat, they will be sending a strong message. It’ll be clear that they are here to compete for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference and they are not worried about the 2014 NBA draft when other teams around them seem to be purposefully tanking.
At this point, it looks like Charlotte’s first round draft pick this offseason will be going to the Chicago Bulls as part of the Tyrus Thomas trade a few years ago. That pick, which will go to the Bulls as long as it is outside of the top 10, will almost certainly go to the Bulls if the Bobcats choose to improve their team and go all-in for a 2014 playoff berth.
This would normally be a big deal for a franchise such as Charlotte, who still needs to add some pieces to be a legitimate contender; however, the Bobcats are expected to receive Portland’s first round pick this season (as long as Portland’s pick lands outside the top-12) and the ‘Cats might even receive Detroit’s first round pick (as long as Detroit’s pick lands outside the top-8).
These extra draft picks could add extra ammunition for the Bobcats in trade talks, as they could use one of these two picks to sweeten the deal for a player in order to improve the team.
Although the Bobcats only play four games over the next 10 days, this next week and a half have a chance to shape the rest of the season – more-so than any other 10 day stretch due to the trade deadline looming. With Charlotte looking to make the playoffs for the first time since 2010, no one would be surprised if the front office decided to scan the market in order to find a player or two to solidify the Bobcats’ playoff chances and, more importantly, the franchise’s future.
Read more news, rumors, and opinions on our Charlotte Bobcats team page.