There is a myth that keeps being perpetrated in the NBA today that a team has to be youthful to win. The Oklahoma City Thunder are one of the reasons that this myth arose in the first place with their young core of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka. However, the thing that people have to remember is that these teams aren’t the rule, they are the exception.
Yes, you need some youth to be a successful team in the league. A team can’t have senior citizens trudging up and down the court every night and win consistently. The key, though, is to be able to find that balance.
The Charlotte Bobcats are struggling to find that balance right now. The Bobcats boast an extremely young roster with only three of their 14 players being in their thirties. Though they have young talent like Kemba Walker, Gerald Henderson and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, none of those players are instant-superstars like Westbrook and Durant.
Most of the young players on Charlotte’s roster are still developing into their niches in the NBA and for the Bobcats. Those aren’t the type of youthful players that make a team into a contender by themselves. So, what’s the answer for this team?
I believe that this team lacks veteran leadership to help guide these developing players, as well as post players that are well-rounded defensively. The veterans for the Bobcats like Ben Gordon, Brendan Haywood and DeSagana Diop have all been in the league for quite a while. But none of these veterans really have the personality or characteristics needed to lead this particular team.
Charlotte’s young players are all skilled in various aspects of the game. The problem arises in that there is no one on their squad that provides toughness vocally and with their play. The Bobcats need someone whose personality in the huddle and on the floor demands their respect and corrals the younger players to function as a unit.
If the Bobcats were able to find a tough veteran to bring their inexperienced players together, it could dramatically change this team. I think one of the best options for this team is to look at some of the players that are still looking to be signed as free agents
One of the most interesting players still on the free agent market is Kenyon Martin. Given what the Bobcats need, Martin seems like an ideal choice for Charlotte to pursue signing. He’s a 12-year veteran in the league, one of the toughest guys in the game and one of the most versatile defenders at the power forward position.
Martin would not only be able to provide the toughness and veteran leadership that the Bobcats need, but also would help to bolster their shaky interior defense. The main problem right now with Charlotte’s interior defense is that their big-men struggle to keep up with penetrating guards and athletic big-men defensively, which creates points in the paint and gives open three-point looks for their opponents.
That’s always been one of Martin’s strengths as he is physical enough to defend bruising big-men and athletic enough to not get burned. For what he could potentially add to this Bobcats team, I think that Martin has to be the number one guy on Charlotte’s radar.
If they were unable to sign Martin for whatever reason, another guy that would be an interesting candidate for this role would be Chris Andersen, the Birdman. At first glance, Andersen doesn’t seem to fit the bill of someone who could be a leader. However, Andersen is a 9-year veteran of the league and, in appearance and demeanor, is well respected around the NBA for his toughness.
Andersen is also a defensive specialist, which would assist the Bobcats in that area. The only issue with him would be if he is able to be a leader. It’s not a sure thing, but I think it’s possible that if the Birdman were to arrive in Charlotte, he could embrace the role as a leader for the Bobcats.
There are many more guys that could be targeted by Charlotte, but whoever it is needs to be cut in the same mold as Martin and Andersen. The Bobcats need a tough leader to help their team grow and win. There’s someone out there; maybe Charlotte will find them.