WE DID IT! U-S-A! U-S-A!
A season recap. Of arguably the worst NBA season of all-time. Where to begin?
Maybe I should start with how this wasn't completely unexpected. I said this before the season:
This team won't be very good. They're too young and just don't have the talent to compete yet. Without real scoring punch, they'll face constant offensive weakness.
But that's OK. These are the growing pains that come with rebuilding a team. This team had to get worse before it gets better. The development of the young players will be most important as the Bobcats need to figure out which players are in their long-term future and which aren't.
I just didn't realize how stark the growing pains would be. I don't think anyone did. But not many expected the team to contend. Corey Maggette wasn't a big dropoff from Stephen Jackson, but his recent injury status should have given us pause. Bismack Biyombo's contract with Fuenlabrada in Spain seemed like it would bind him for the season, but via some magical bargaining, Michael Jordan and his crew convinced Fuenlabrada to release Biyombo in return for money or autographed shoes and some of his cologne or something. With the young rookie core of Kemba Walker and Biyombo finally paired up, it seemed the team would finally give the fans something to watch as far as developing young talent.
The lockout, however, created problems by the truckload. Luckily most Bobcats seemed to have kept busy during the time off, but about half of the team was comprised of completely new pieces. With the lockout, there would be only about two weeks to sign free agents and to have free agency. Not two weeks for each, two weeks total. And Biyombo came in late because his contract settlement didn't conclude until a day or two prior to the second exhibition game.
Regardless, the shortened season waited for no one. The Bobcats started off hot with a win over Milwaukee and former Bobcats Stephen Jackson. It was thrilling and left some wondering if the Bobcats would really be as bad as expected. I mean, head coach Paul Silas had gotten a roster that I considered nearly as untalented to overachieve the previous season. Was it so farfetched that he couldn't do it again?
Turns out the answer would be yes. Boris Diaw's play plummeted back down to earth after an impressive start playing the undersized center. Injuries sprung up. Corey Maggette had to sit after only six games. Augustin lasted about 16 games. Henderson got hit a few games later. The Bobcats were left with an even worse roster comprised nearly completely of guys thrown together with a shortened offseason. At one point the Bobcats started Kemba Walker, Matt Carroll, Derrick Brown, Byron Mullens and Tyrus Thomas. Then they lost to the Wizards by 17 points.
The drubbings came swiftly and often after that. Forty-four points to the Trail Blazers. Thirty-three points to the Lakers. Deficits drifted upwards of 30 points often. Sometimes they would fall back down into the twenties. Often times, they wouldn't. Wins were sparse.
The team was often lacking in focus, which made them excruciating to watch some nights. Consistency was just as rare. Kemba Walker had a triple double against the Wizards, then two games later he shot 1-for-11. Bismack Biyombo's game oscillated between impressively times like going blow-for-blow against Dwight Howard and getting waxed by Al Jefferson and the Jazz's impressive frontcourt.
Meanwhile the Bobcats fell into a 16-game losing streak. An already-weak roster was a shell of itself and played as such. Defensive rotations were slow and weak, interior defense was a figment of everyone's imagination. Ball movement struggled and the rock hardly ever ventured into the paint on offense.
A couple wins were interspersed here and there, but a losing streak would return to help the Bobcats make history. Injuries once again resurfaced for Reggie Williams, D.J. Augustin and Corey Maggette. The trade deadline passed with no movement.
Then the losing streak began in earnest. It looked to threaten the 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers' record-worst winning percentage. The countdown ticked down. The beatable teams became less and less frequent. And then in fitting fashion, the Bobcats fell by 20 points to a Knicks team resting their stars in anticipation of the playoffs.
The Bobcats now hold the crown of worst NBA team ever, and possibly worst professional sports team ever. It wasn't completely unexpected, but it certainly wasn't expected. I thought they made good deals in the offseason with their limited flexibility and rebuilding aim, but none of that matters when TANKING O GOSH FROWNY FACE has taken over the internet for silly outcry of the year. Anyway, I'm thankful we did have a season, as painful as it was.
- Byron Mullens surprises EVERYONE by showing off his shooting talents. Unfortunately, he's also fairly limited in other aspects, but still not everyone needs to be a jack of all trades. Here's to his continued development. I know I talk a decent deal about his problems, but he certainly made a splash this year as an offensive threat that forced opponents to think twice before leaving him open.
- Kemba Walker has shown flashes of how good he can be. His passing improved noticeably as the season went on, despite spotty shooting woes. Walker has great ability to create space, especially in the midrange, but really, REALLY needs to tighten up that jumper. If he solidifies that, he could really burn opposing defenses. Augustin wasn't awful, but merely mediocre (not that Walker was much better). His shooting percentages fell to career-lows in all regards outside of free-throw shooting. And after the trade deadline, it often seemed like he just ... wasn't there. But his assists were above past years, so woo, I guess.
- Biyombo had the same kind of inconsistency, but was an outstanding shot-blocker game in and game out. He needs to improve his eye for ball and head fakes, but it's hard to fault a rookie for not holding a guy like Al Jefferson to a subpar game. It happens.
- Gerald Henderson had a pretty solid season, improving his shooting and assist numbers a fair amount. His numbers around the rim went up too. You still want to see him take it to the rim more, but solid stuff.
- We'll have a top four pick guaranteed this summer.
- Best NBA losing percentage of all-time!
- Gana Diop had one of the worst airballs of all-time.
- Corey Maggette had one of the worst turnovers of all-time.
- Matt Carroll had one of the worst dunk attempts of all-time.
- The President of Basketball Operations' son was signed as the 3rd string point guard. He would go on to finish with more turnovers than assists and a FG% of 32.5 percent.
- Worst NBA winning percentage ever.