April 17, 2013; Charlotte, NC, USA; Charlotte Bobcats guard Kemba Walker (15) drives past Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving (2) during the game at Time Warner Cable Arena. Bobcats win 105-98. Mandatory Credit: Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

Team Preview: Charlotte Bobcats

As the NBA season quickly approaches, Right Down Euclid will be previewing all 30 NBA teams, breaking down the strengths and weaknesses of each franchise. This preview will focusing on the Charlotte Bobcats, who last year had a record of 21-61 and did not make the playoffs.

Team: Charlotte Bobcats

Coach: Steve Clifford

General Manager: Rich Cho

2012-2013 Record: 21-61

Place in Conference: 14th

Leading Scorer: Kemba Walker (17.7 PPG)

Key Additions: Cody Zeller, Al Jefferson, Anthony Tolliver

Key Losses: Tyrus Thomas

Since their conception in 2004, the Bobcats have been in the playoffs only once. Last year was no different. The young ‘Cats started out the last season strong, but an 18-game losing skid in December dug them into a hole too deep to climb out of. Charlotte had another lottery pick and selected Cody Zeller over the offseason. The front office bulked up the frontcourt even more with the addition of Jefferson as well.

STRENGTHS: Last year, the Bobcats struggled in many facets of the game. They ranked near the bottom in almost all statistical categories, which probably was the cause for their 21 wins. The Bobcats did excel in a few areas last year, one of which was free throw shooting. They were fifth in the league in attempted free throws. This is a beneficial statistic for two reasons. First, it shows that they attacked the rim. Getting to the cup is a valuable attribute for any team, and baskets are easier to come by near the rim as it is. Secondly, free throws should be free points. Charlotte was last in shooting efficiency last year and this year are going to need all the points they can get. Being able to convert free throws as a team helps in late-game situations as well. If they can get to the charity stripe 25 times a game again, they should be poised for an improvement when it comes to scoring points. The ‘Cats were in the top 10 in least turnovers last season, with only 14.1 per game. Keeping the ball in your possession and avoiding giving opponents extra touches is also a valuable asset for a team. If they hope to improve in the wins column, the 2013-14 ‘Cats need to keep this number low.

WEAKNESSES: A lot. As mentioned above, the Bobcats were last in shooting efficiency in 2012-13. They were second to last in team assists and opponent’s points per game. As a team, they are going to have to put the ball in the basket with more frequency than last year. Shooting 42.5 percent from the field as team will not cut it this year if they look to improve on 21 wins. The low assists also worry me. Kemba Walker started all 82 games at point guard last year, averaging 5.7 assists. But other than him, only one player (Ramon Sessions) had averaged over three APG. They must move the ball better this year. Good ball movement leads to open, and consequently, easier shots for a team who needs all the easy shots they can get. Defensively, they gave up over 102 PPG in 2012-13. Frankly, this is not going to cut it. As cliché as it is, defense does win championships, and the ‘Cats must to improve there this season. They have good athletes on the wing, such as Ben Gordon, Michael Kidd-Gilchrest, and Gerald Henderson, who must improve on their desire to defend. Physically, they have the tools, but it will fall on their want to improve. On the interior, they have shot changers Bismack Biyombo and newly acquired Al Jefferson. They must maintain high energy on the defensive end throughout the course of the season.

2013-2014 Season Predictions: After adding a few pieces via free agency and the draft, look for Charlotte to be improved this season. Walker, who is entering his third season, should solidify himself as one of the top 20 point guards in the league. I expect the ‘Cats to hover right around the 30-win mark this season and, again, miss the playoffs. Even with the addition of Jefferson, I expect Walker to be the team’s most valuable player this year. I fully expect him to be an instrumental part in the development of the rebuilding Bobcats.

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Tags: Al Jefferson Charlotte Bobcats Kemba Walker Michael Kidd-Gilchrest

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