The Charlotte Bobcats are 9-23. That’s not good. They lost 18 consecutive games earlier in the season to get to that point. That’s also not good.
This is a basketball team with issues galore. They struggle defensively, both on the interior and on the perimeter. They shoot the ball at a poor percentage. They are young and inexperienced, which hurts them late in games. But to say that this team doesn’t have potential and talent would be a lie.
Kemba Walker seems like he’s on the cusp of becoming a superstar in the NBA. Ramon Sessions and Ben Gordon are both capable offensive threats off the bench. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is visibly growing as he progresses in his rookie season. Byron Mullens has the skills to be an effective big-man that stretches the floor, as long as he can someday realize that he doesn’t have to shoot the ball every time he touches it. Bismack Biyombo and Hakim Warrick are both athletic post-players that could eventually be effective in the post.
As of right now though, that potential isn’t translating into a successful season. They have been playing more soundly in their last three games. However, the playoffs seem like a non-possibility at this point for Charlotte, even though it’s still could theoretically happen. So, given where the Bobcats are right now, where do they go from here-on-out this season?
There are essentially two options. The first is that the Bobcats could tank the rest of their season and continue to build their team with high draft picks. The other is that they continue to try and fix the problems with the squad they have and see where that leads them.
If Charlotte were to tank the rest of their season, they would obviously put themselves in position to pick at a high position in the 2013 NBA Draft. The problem there is that the upcoming draft-class isn’t projected to be that great. Outside of a couple of guys, there are no players that really have draft-experts drooling.
In addition to that, the Bobcats, even with tanking, would still probably not end up with the worst record in the league, lessening their chance of getting a sure-fire prospect.
If the Bobcats decide to try and fix the issues with their current team, they will build confidence with their team and provide a foundation for the coming years. The problem with that is that they risk finishing in the middle-of-the-pack in the NBA, a place where you miss the playoffs and don’t get much help from the draft.
However, the reason that Bobcats shouldn’t tank their season and should continue to work out the kinks with the talent they have comes down to the culture of Charlotte.
Charlotte has largely been associated with losing as a franchise. If they were to tank this season, that association would only be further validated. If the Bobcats build with what they have though, and potentially land themselves in the middle of the pack, that shows the rest of the league and their fans that they are trying to change the losing-culture that has been created.
The reason that is important is because it opens up the door for quality free agents to come to Charlotte. The Bobcats have never really had a big-name or semi-big-name free agent signing in their history. With a 2013 free agent class that is incredibly deep and riddled with talent looming this summer, the Bobcats need to find a way to bring some of those guys to Charlotte.
One of the ways they can do this is by establishing themselves as a team that is trying to get better and trying to establish a positive basketball culture. A talented free agent is much more likely to consider going to a team that is on the precipice of being a good team and that works to get better than a team that is content with tanking their season for a draft pick.
The Bobcats have options with what they can do going forward in this season. But in regards to the future of their franchise, there’s only one right answer.