With the start of the 2013-14 NBA season rapidly approaching, we thought it only fair to share what makes each team so exciting. Ontologically speaking, all 30 teams deserve our eyeballs this season. Even disastrous lineups still present oodles of plays, personalities, highlights and headaches. Here are five things to keep in mind for each team before flipping the channel.
Next up, a Bobcats team slowly pulling itself up out of the NBA basement.
[5 Reasons To Watch: Kings, Lakers, Knicks, 76ers, Bobcats, Cavs, Magic, Warriors, Timberwolves, Nuggets, Clippers, Clippers, Rockets, Bulls, Pistons, Bucks, Nets, Pacers, Wizards, Thunder, Heat, Mavericks, Celtics, Raptors Hawks, Spurs, Trail Blazers, Grizzlies, Suns, Jazz]
The Bobcats have more or less been cellar dwellers since their inception. They have seemed content at the bottom of the Eastern Conference just stockpiling draft picks. This year, they signed Al Jefferson to a 3-year, $41 million contract, showing they are at least making an effort to put a quality product on the court. The rest of the roster is young but promising. Kemba Walker had a great sophomore campaign, and they are hoping Michael Kidd-Gilchrist will make the same type of jump this season. Cody Zeller, their first pick in this past year’s draft, is an intriguing prospect who will get big minutes right away.
When looking at the slate of games on any given night, the Bobcats rarely infuse much enthusiasm. That is until this year! While they will most likely stay in the lottery, the Bobcats have some exciting players to watch and some compelling story lines for this upcoming season that will make you at least think twice about passing over their games. Here are five reasons to tune into Bobcats games on League Pass for the 2013-14 season:
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The High-Flying Power Forward Duo
The Bobcats will have Cody Zeller starting at power forward this season with Josh McRoberts backing him up. Charlotte might be the new Lob City! All jokes aside, these guys can get up. Zeller, the fourth overall pick in this June’s draft, shocked and awed at the combine with a 37.5 inch max vertical. That’s not a typo. The Zeller brothers are known for their proficiency running the court, and that is one of Cody’s great strengths â€” he is not your typical lumbering 7-footer. He consistently beat other bigs, and even guards, down the court in his two years at Indiana and should be able to do the same in his first year in the Association. Even through just one preseason game, Zeller has already shown that he can finish with authority in transition, putting home an impromptu oop off the glass on a mishandled layup by Kemba Walker.
McRoberts is quite explosive around the basket as well and is known for his put-back dunks and alley-oops. He has never been a complete player, but he is a great passer and good energy guy in spurts. Like Zeller, he is effective getting out in transition and finishing. Just picture Kemba leading the break with McRoberts flanking him to the right and Zeller to the left. I love this game!
Al Jefferson Dominating On the Block
The ‘Cats made a huge splash this offseason in signing Jefferson. Big Al is a proven guy who can put the ball in the cup â€“ something the Bobcats drastically need. Post scoring is a lost art for most guys in the league, but not Jefferson. He seems like he has been around forever but is still only 28 years old and has some of the prettiest post moves in the game. He averaged 23 and 11 back when he was the only option in Minnesota, and this year he might have to do the same.
The Bobcats were last in the league last year in defensive rating and 3rd to last in offensive rating. Jefferson is no defensive stalwart [Eds note: this is an understatement], but he can’t hurt Charlotte in that department because there is nowhere to go but up. What he can do is improve their offense. He plants down on the left block (and only the left block as the following video shows) and can score against single coverage almost at will with a wide array of fakes, hooks, and drives to the hoop. He is quite efficient â€“ a career 50 percent shooter from the field â€“ and most teams need to double him on the block, which should open up things for his teammates. The Bobcats made a statement in signing Jefferson that they do not want to be a doormat this year. Big Al’s dominance down low should help improve their offensive efficiency and translates into Charlotte becoming a more competitive team.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist Defending (and Throwing Down)
MKG had an up and down rookie year, due in part to a scary concussion in February that bothered him for the rest of the season. MKG is still a teenager, amazingly, so there is still plenty of time for him to build on his great potential. With a full year under his belt and heading into this season completely healthy, that potential should start to come to fruition.
Kidd-Gilchrist has the prototypical body to be a shut-down defender at 6-7 and 235 pounds with a 7-0 wingspan. The guy has quick hands, good anticipation and a nonstop motor. He won a championship in his only year in college, and Coach John Calipari raved about his leadership during that run. He has the body, the physical tools and the mentality to be a lockdown defender â€“ he just has to put it all together. Young guys around the league like Kawhi Leonard and Jimmy Butler have taken that step to becoming elite defenders, and Kidd-Gilchrist is next in line. MKG showed flashes of being that type of defender last year, but will start to do so more consistently in his sophomore season.
MKG has surprising hops and once in a while will explode with a ferocious slam â€“ he threw down a couple facials over the course of his rookie season. Check out this one on Greg Monroe. Wow.
Kemba made great strides last year on his way to 17.7 points and 5.7 assists per game. The dude proved he can play at this level. He has a wicked handle and his step back is second to none. We all know what he did to Pittsburgh in the Big East tourney, and he is continuing to abuse defenders in the league in the same fashion. He is a proven winner, so the Bobcats’ struggles certainly cannot be blamed on him. With Big Al on board, Kemba should have even more room to work â€” and that’s bad news for opposing teams. He has one of the best crossovers in the league and can stop on a dime to pull up for the mid-range J. Defenders better have extra tape on their ankles when matching up with Kemba this season.
Michael Jordan in Uniform?
Normally, you’d expect to see an owner at most of his team’s games. Jordan prefers the golf course over watching games from the sideline, but this year you might find him on the court. There have been rumblings for years that MJ is plotting a return. During his Hall of Fame speech, Jordan even said he was making a comeback to basketball at 50 years old. Everyone in Springfield laughed â€“ except Jordan. Now that he is 50 years old, those rumblings will only get louder and louder as the season progresses. MJ at this age is clearly not what he used to be, but he is definitely not some washed up scrub either, as O.J. Mayo can attest [Eds note: this video is from 2006, and MJ would have to renounce his majority ownership to play for the team].
In a great piece for ESPN last year, Wright Thompson wrote about how Jordan is working out and watching what he eats to get back to his playing weight of 218. Once in shape, Jordan could undoubtedly be a productive player, and there are certainly minutes to be had with this Bobcats roster. He could definitely hold his own in one game, but back-to-backs and stretches of 3 games in 5 nights could expose some issues. Either way, just the idea of a return for His Airness is worth the intrigue. We never need an excuse to post MJ highlights, so here are 15 minutes’ of them to remind you about the GOAT.
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