May surgery alters East outlook

October, 5, 2007
I think I'm about to break the record for "fastest abandomment of a prediction."

On Wednesday, I picked the Charlotte Bobcats to take the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference.

On Friday, projected starting power forward Sean May announced he'd miss the season to undergo microfracture knee surgery. Guess it's time to revisit that prognostication.

I know a lot of you haven't seen much of May since he was leading North Carolina to a championship, but he's the real deal -- when he can stay on the court. With a wide frame and a soft touch, he has averaged better than 19 points and 11 rebounds per 40 minutes in his 58 pro games. May and Emeka Okafor projected to be one of the best starting frontcourts in the East this season.

When I projected Charlotte to make the playoffs, I did it knowing May was injury prone -- I had him playing a little over half a season. At the time, that seemed about fair. Now, obviously, that half a season goes to zero.

And the implications are huge, because the Bobcats have virtually no frontcourt depth. Presumably Walter Herrmann steps up and starts as an undersized 4, which isn't too severe a dropoff, but as with a lot of these cases it's the backup-replacing-the-backup where the real damage happens.

Charlotte will be counting on the likes of Othella Harrington and Ryan Hollins to fill the void; one shudders to think what might happen if Okafor also goes down.

So although he isn't a household name, the loss of May is huge. I have it costing the Bobcats six wins, dropping them from 40 projected wins to 34.

Obviously, that knocks them out of the No. 8 slot, and puts either New Jersey or Toronto in their place. I had those two clubs as co-No. 9s in my preseason rankings at 39-43, so flip a coin. If you want to get real technical, I had the Raptors with 0.06 wins more than the Nets, but I doubt that matters unless the league starts awarding hundredths of wins.



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