By Scott Lauer
April 18, 2013
Charlotte, NC – Scott Lauer is the radio play-by-play voice of the Charlotte Bobcats. His column will appear on bobcats.com on Thursdays throughout the season. The opinions expressed here are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Bobcats organization.
Year nine of Bobcats basketball is over. The season came to an end last night with a win over Cleveland, earning the team a third-straight victory as they finished with 21 wins. They tripled their win total from last year, becoming the only team in NBA history to achieve that distinction.
There were several positive aspects to the season. They started and finished strong, winning seven of the first 12 games, and then won their final three, including eight of 10 at home.
Individually, there were several players to focus on. Kemba Walker led the team in scoring (17.7 points), assists (5.7) and steals (1.95) and set the franchise single-season record for most steals in a season (160), while finishing fifth in the NBA in steals. He moved the needle on 3-point effectiveness (32.2 percent), and had a quality assist/turnover ratio (2.36). Not many people would flinch if they heard he started for most teams.
Gerald Henderson scored over 15 points per game for a second-straight season and pumped in over 20 per game over the last quarter of the season, going through a stretch of games where he hit or surpassed that figure in nine of 16 games. His passing efficiency rose as well, as he averaged four assists over the last 10 games. He missed a month early in the season with a sprained foot, so his numbers could have been even better. He’s entering restricted free-agency this summer and proven to be one of the soundest Bobcats draft picks.
Ramon Sessions can’t be a forgotten man. He missed the final six weeks with a sprained knee but was in the mix for the unofficial team MVP award before that. He averaged 14.4 points, went to the free-throw line at an alarmingly high rate (5.7 attempts per game), and was as solid as quartz with his demeanor and work ethic, influencing a young team.
Ben Gordon and Jannero Pargo had bursts of shot-making to support the other guards.
The front line began rounding out when Josh McRoberts joined the team via a trade with Orlando in February. He quickly earned a starting role and showcased his eye-popping passing ability for a power forward. It seemed to be infectious at times – the Bobcats set a season-high in assists (35) on April 15 against New York. He was one assist and one rebound away from a triple-double the night before against Milwaukee, and flirted with another one against the Knicks. He’ll be an unrestricted free agent this summer.
Bismack Biyombo finished 10th in the NBA in blocks (1.79) and logged a pair of 17-rebound games this year. Offensively, he averaged nearly nine points over the last six games, showing more confidence in his moves near the basket, as well as his mid-range shots.
Byron Mullens missed the final stretch with injuries, but averaged 10.6 points, and 6.4 rebounds in the 53 he played, including 41 starts.
Regarding the rookies, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist 9.0 points, 5.9 rebounds and played an average of 26.0 minutes per night. At 19, he played as the youngest player in the league and his intangibles are off the charts. He competes, has high character and possesses a genuine love for the game. His make up will allow him to reach his full potential.
Jeffery Taylor was thrust into the starting lineup early on when Henderson suffered a sprained foot and went on to average 6.1 points, shoot 34.4 percent from beyond the arc and was often called on to defend some of the premier offensive wings in the league.
The Bobcats were the youngest team in the league and were able to develop their youthful nucleus on the floor, hopefully bearing fruit in future seasons. Ultimately, with Walker, Henderson and Sessions, they have a respected three-guard rotation that hasn’t even peaked. That was the strength of the team, and they received balance up front with McRoberts in particular.
Now, we look forward to the NBA Draft Lottery, where the Bobcats will have a 19.9 percent chance of receiving the first pick. Visit bobcats.com for continuous draft coverage leading up to the NBA Draft on June 27.