Updated: Oct. 27, 2006, 11:55 AM ET

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Bobcats

Team Page | Schedule | Roster | Hollinger Stats

Where will the Charlotte Bobcats finish in the Southeast Division and the Eastern Conference? Get 10 different takes from ESPN's NBA experts.

ANALYST COMMENT
Greg
Anthony

ESPN.com
Still a young team that has yet to establish an identity. Hopes are high with Michael Jordan in the front office, and maybe the next Larry Bird on the court in Adam Morrison. This season will tell if they're headed in the right direction.
DIVISION RANK: 5 | CONFERENCE RANK: 15
Chris
Broussard

ESPN Mag
Have a nice young nucleus, but far too inexperienced to compete night in, night out. Will suffer major growing pains.
DIVISION RANK: 5 | CONFERENCE RANK: 15
Ric
Bucher

ESPN Mag
I applaud the good people of North Carolina for declining to support this franchise. Having Bernie Bickerstaff wear two hats and operate with the smallest budget and lowest player payroll makes anything more than the league's worst record a wild success.
DIVISION RANK: 5 | CONFERENCE RANK: 15
Chad
Ford

ESPN.com
Developing talents Raymond Felton, Gerald Wallace, Sean May and Emeka Okafor and newcomer Morrison will make the Bobcats better, but they're still a dynamic two-guard away from being in the playoff hunt.
DIVISION RANK: 4 | CONFERENCE RANK: 14
John
Hollinger

ESPN.com
This team will be better than people expect, with a young nucleus that could challenge for a playoff spot. Gerald Wallace is the league's most underrated player and the return of Emeka Okafor helps big-time.
DIVISION RANK: 4 | CONFERENCE RANK: 11
Scoop
Jackson

ESPN.com
It's like they're getting 3 new players (Okafor, May, Morrison, all All-Americans) on a team last season that won 26 games with a rookie at point. They need a vet off the bench (Latrell Sprewell, anywhere?) to make them legit.
DIVISION RANK: 4 | CONFERENCE RANK: 11
Tim
Legler

ESPN.com
The Bobcats compete on every play. They just don't have enough scoring ability. Adam Morrison should help, but he'll be facing the opponents' best defenders. I like the plan -- build through the draft and be patient. Real patient.
DIVISION RANK: 5 | CONFERENCE RANK: 15
Jim
O'Brien

ESPN.com
Fun to watch and never a pushover, Bernie Bickerstaff's teams execute offensively and he gets the most out of them at that end. They must continue to grow at the defensive end as their young guns mature.
DIVISION RANK: 5 | CONFERENCE RANK: 15
Chris
Sheridan

ESPN.com
This will be a season for Michael Jordan to determine who's worth keeping and who isn't, and we'll predict Adam Morrison falls into the first category and Emeka Okafor slides into the latter.
DIVISION RANK: 4 | CONFERENCE RANK: 11
Marc
Stein
ESPN.com
They'll be healthier -- because they have to be -- and Morrison will finish top three in ROY voting. But chances are wins, like Jordan sightings, will continue to be scarce for such a young group.
DIVISION RANK: 5 | CONFERENCE RANK: 15
 
Average ranks

DIVISION: 4.6 | Standings
CONFERENCE: 13.7 | Standings


'Cat A Pillar For Charlotte
Wallace
Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images
Gerald Wallace can swat your shot (2.1 bpg) or pick up your dribble (2.51 spg). And of course the springy forward can also bring down momma's house when finishing in transition.


Lineup Breakdown

STARTERS ANALYSIS
Raymond Felton
Point Guard
6-1 | 198
Stopped second-guessing every pass and became first option.
Adam Morrison
Shooting Guard
6-8 | 205
Team needs scoring. Does 24.6 ppg in summer league qualify?
Gerald Wallace
Small Forward
6-7 | 220
Fits in at SF (15.2 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 2.5 spg) but will guard SGs.
Emeka Okafor
Power Forward
6-10 | 255
Double double-double threat (points and boards; ankle and back).
Primoz Brezec
Center
7-1 | 255
Bottom-level big at least has top-drawer midrange J.
Bench: Loaded at PF (Sean May, Melvin Ely, Othella Harrington) and PG (Brevin Knight) but a bit hollow on wing. Anyone got a big guard for sale?

ESPN The Magazine's NBA Preview hits newsstands October 25.



Hollinger's Player Spotlight
Primoz Brezec
Player efficiency rating
projection: 15.60
vs. NBA avg.: +0.60
Bobcats profiles

Scouting report: Brezec is unusually skilled for his size. He has range out to 17 feet and a smooth release with a nice arc, and his size allows him to get shots off in the post against opposing defenses. He's neither physical nor assertive, so he doesn't get many touches on the block, but when he does, he's an effective weapon with a turnaround or jump hook. One wonders why the Bobcats run so much offense through Emeka Okafor and Melvin Ely when Brezec has proven so much more accurate.

Brezec is big and ambulatory, which one might guess would make him a good defender. Guess again. He lacks strength, has short arms and is slow on his feet, and as a result, the Bobcats were much worse with him on the court. Additionally, his inability to rebound or block shots is glaring for someone so tall. Overall, Charlotte gave up a staggering 6.8 points more per 100 possessions with Brezec on the court, one reason he played only 27.6 minutes per game despite his strong offensive showing.

2006-07 outlook: It's a big season for Brezec because he can opt out of his contract after the season and get some of the crazy cash teams have been throwing at second-tier centers in recent years. Although his defensive limitations prevent him from being a star (or even a dwarf planet), Brezec's offensive output has been strong enough that the Bobcats need to consider expanding his role. On a team full of low-percentage, high-turnover players, he's the exact opposite, and should be getting far more than the 10 field goal attempts per game he averaged last season.


No Quibbling About Dribbling
Felton
Kent Smith/NBAE via Getty Images
Raymond Felton is a natural point guard, which he showed when Brevin Knight was hurt. Felton finished his rookie campaign averaging 5.6 assists per game.


SportsNation Speaks
Charlotte's future seems bright. SportsNation weighed in on whether a certain cheesy 'stache should be seen right away.

Should Adam Morrison start?
83.0% Yes
17.0% No

Vote: Bobcats in 2006-07



Ask A Blogger
Bobcats

What would it take for you to get a tattoo of the Bobcats' logo on your chest?

First and foremost we need a healthy Emeka Okafor to stay on the court and return to being the defensive presence that he was in his rookie season.

Second, Raymond Felton -- who was as good as any rookie, including CP3, after the All-Star break -- needs to continue down the path to becoming one of the top young point guards.

Finally, I'd need for Adam Morrison's play to be occasionally reminiscent of the great Larry Bird. He wouldn't need to be the next Bird, just remind us of him from time to time.

John Pettice | bobcatsplanet.com



Coach's Corner

BERNIE BICKERSTAFF COACHING FILE
Experience: 13 years
Record: 382-468
Playoffs: 12-21
NBA titles: 0
Coach's profile

Bernie Bickerstaff will have to deal with the reality that rookie Adam Morrison can be a huge positive offensively at the expense of the Bobcats' defense, an area of real trouble for them last season.

Does he throw Morrison to the wolves, or does he bring him along slowly?

And how much time does he invest in this at the expense of developing his other young guys?

David Thorpe, ESPN.com NBA analyst



Hollinger's Team Strength
Hands. The scrappy Bobcats are constantly swiping at the ball, resulting in phenomenal rates of steals. Yes, the gambling style they played a season ago played a big role, but part of the reason they played that style was because they had the personnel for it.

Wallace is incredibly quick in the passing lanes while Knight is an absolute magician at stripping big men around the basket; the two ranked second and first in steals per 40 minutes, respectively.

Wallace added to that effort with more than two blocks a game, and in his limited time Okafor also rejected two a night.

The other Bobcats aren't chopped liver either. Bernard Robinson is an outstanding ball hawk, while May was surprisingly good in this area as well.

Charlotte may not post quite as many steals as a season ago because it will need to gamble less, but the sight of opponents getting stripped to start a 3-on-1 the other way still should be common for Bobcats fans this season.

More Hollinger Bobcats analysis Insider



Fantasy Fix
Felton
Felton

Sleeper: Raymond Felton is better than you think. Sure, the Bobcats were riddled with injuries last season, but consider that Felton averaged 16.7 points and 7.6 assists in 27 games after the All-Star break.

Don't let the team's re-signing of Brevin Knight scare you from snagging Felton, as long as you can deal with his below-average shooting percentage.

Bust: Sean May will likely play for a while in the NBA. But right now, he shouldn't play for your fantasy team.

His health is a concern, and for a player who spends most of his time in the paint, he shot just 41 percent from the field last season -- and he likely won't get enough minutes to expect a large jump in his numbers.

Keith Lipscomb | Fantasy Hoops Index

 

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