NBA training camps have begun; the season is rapidly approaching. Can you dig it? I knew that you could. And so we continue our previews: 30 of them in 30 days. Up next is a team that just might surprise you this season (but probably not): The Charlotte Bobcats.When last we saw them: Finished 32-50, which was fourth in the Southeast Division and 12th overall in the East. Amazingly, with those 32 wins, they finished only five games out of the playoffs. Go Eastern Conference! Key Arrivals: Alexis Ajinca (type that out five times fast), D.J. Augustin, Shannon Brown Key Departures: Derek Anderson, Earl Boykins, Othella Harrington (in other words, nobody they regret parting ways with) The Good: Oooookay. Must. Stay. Positive. Well, they
paid Larry Brown a crapload of money convinced Larry Brown to coach the team. And as we all know, Brown once directed a championship ball club and stuff. He also has a history of getting the most out of underachieving and talent-challenged teams. Adam Morrison and Sean May are back, and both of them should be (coughcoughcough) healthy. They signed Emeka Okafor to a six-year contract extension. Rookie D.J. Augustin should be pretty good. Gerald Wallace is already pretty good. Jason Richardson is always capable of scoring 20 points (usually on around 20 shots). Oh, and bobcats are totally vicious. Rrowrr!! The Bad: Remember how I mentioned Larry Brown has a history of improving bad teams? Yeah, well, he also has a bad habit of bolting at the first sign of trouble (or even boredom). To wit, this is his ninth stop as a head coach. I guess what I'm saying is: Don't expect loyalty. Sean May has played in a whopping 58 games in three pro seasons and hasn't materialized on the court since March 14, 2007. So, you know, I'll trust in his health once he makes it through more than 35 games. (May already told the Charlotte Observer that: "Obviously, the knee (that he's had three surgeries on) is going to probably be in the back of my mind. I like to say I'm not thinking about it. But subconsciously, I probably am. It'll be a little while before I'll get over that. I'll have to take some hits." Good sign, huh?) Adam Morrison might be healthy, but does that even matter? Emeka Okafor is good, but is he really $72 million over six years good? (The stats say: Not so much.) Oh, and Okafor has managed to avoid injury in only one of his four NBA seasons. Not coincidentally, that happened last season...which was a contract year. Speaking of paid absences, Gerald Wallace has also had his share of those, although he blames last year's injuries on the fact that he had to put in so much time at power forward. Did I mention that Michael Jordan (a real front-office guru) and Nelly (the rapper) are two of the three principle owners? Fun Facts: The EA NBA Live 09 simulated season predicts they'll finish with 39 wins and actually make the playoffs, losing in Round One to the Miami Heat. How "good" were they last year? Here are some numbers: Points Scored 97.1 (19th); Points Allowed 101.4 (20th); Field-Goal Percentage .452 (17th); Opponents' FG% .466 (22nd); Rebounding Diff. -3.11 (27th). Gerald Wallace suffered a Grade 3 concussion on February 23, 2008 after getting clocked by Sacramento's Mikki Moore. For the sake of clarification, the American Association of Neurological Surgeons defines a Grade 3 concussion as ones that "involve post-traumatic amnesia for more than 24 hours or unconsciousness for more than five minutes." Adam Morrison once portrayed Spiderman in a reenactment of the classic saga The Revenge of the Sinister Six. The parts of the Sinister Six were played by couch cushions. Videotastic extra: Some dude named David Arnott wrote and recorded this song, and filmed the outstanding video, for a Bobcats fan contest. Remember: He doesn't care if you don't understand. He'll never give up being a Bobcats fan.