Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports
With the All-Star starters picked and the reserve selections coming soon enough, SB Nation blogs are making their cases for their players' spots on All-Star weekend. This year's festivities will most likely not feature any Charlotte Bobcats this year, but what about in future years?
When a team is rebuilding, All-Star games can be quite dejecting for a fan base. For Bobcats fans, it is a feeling that is all too common. In Charlotte's previous eight seasons it has only had one player selected to participate in the All-Star game. This year will be no different with the Bobcats featuring a young team whose best players are not All-Star worthy at this time.
Gerald Wallace has so far been the only Bobcat to make it to an All-Star game, which should give hope to a current Bobcat who has a similar style of play to the most popular player in team history. The most likely Bobcat participation has to be Kemba Walker and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist in the Rookie-Sophomore game. But with nobody on the team in a position to make the dunk contest, skills competition or 3-point contest let alone the actual game, this post will be centered around the future. If we are going to be honest, there isn't a lot of potential candidates for All-Star appearances on this roster.
The two that do have the best chance of cracking an All-Star team are Kemba Walker and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Gerald Henderson is in the mix, though it's hard to see him accomplishing it with Charlotte with his long-term status with the team up in the air.
If the NBA were like the MLB and every team had to have a player chosen to participate in the All-Star game this year's choice for the Bobcats would go to Walker without a doubt. In his sophomore season Kemba has shown great improvement in all facets of his game, sans defense. Last season he looked like a rookie who was struggling with the speed of the game. This year he has been much more decisive on the court. But the biggest improvement he's made this season is hitting shots. In Kemba's rookie campaign he shot a not-so-good 36 percent, which he has brought up to a respectable 43 percent in his second year.
As evidenced by his 35-point outburst against Houston on MLK day, Kemba has already become a player that is capable of going off on any given night and carrying his team offensively. For him to take the next step and get into the All-Star conversation he is going to have to continue to improve as a point guard. His assist number is going to have to get into the 7-8 range and point total will have to break the 20-point barrier as an average. Seeing how much Walker has improved from year one to year two has me believing that this is possible. If the Bobcats are able to find a big man who can put the ball in the basket it would go a great ways to upping Kemba's assist total. At this point time he will be required to be more of a scorer on a team that is offensively challenged and relies on its guards to carry the offensive load.
The second future candidate that Charlotte has is the youngest player in the league in MKG. MKG is still very raw and has a ways to go before he is an All-Star type player, but he has a similar skill set as Wallace and he was able to find himself in the dunk contest and as a reserve for the game in 2010. One of Wallace's biggest flaws early in his career was his lack of a jump shot. This is obviously an issue for MKG who will need more than likely a few years under his belt to develop a consistent shot. At this point in his career it's more of a surprise when a jumper of his goes in.
Fortunately, for the Bobcats and MKG he is going to be a stat stuffer. So while he isn't going to be a 20-point per game scorer he's going to rack up rebounds, steals and blocks that will bolster his case for All-Star appearances in the years to come. Throw in the potential he has to be a shut down defender and you are looking at a young player who could rack up multiple appearances if he is able to produce on the offensive end. If MKG is able to become a more consistent jumper shooter from mid-ranger I'd write him in as a future multiple All-Star, but I'm going to need to see how he looks shooting the ball in year two before I make any bold proclamations.
The last Bobcat who truly has All-Star potential is Henderson. I personally do not believe that Hendo will ever develop into an All-Star, but crazier things have happened. He is an above average defender and is much improved on the offensive end from when he came into the league. Still, on a 10-win team he is averaging just 12.9 points per game and rookie second round pick Jeffery Taylor has made enough of an impression where it's possible that the Bobcats could choose to go move Henderson this year as opposed to having to extend him.
If he does end up on an All-Star team I'd be more than surprised if it was donning a Charlotte uniform. Henderson's a nice player and I think he definitely could be an important piece on a title contender, but he's going to have to become more than a jump shooter to crack an All-Star game. As of now we haven't seen enough of him going to the lane and getting easy baskets. His best nights seem to come when he is hitting mid-range jumpers to long twos.
So while the Bobcats only have two realistic future All-Star candidates fans can take solace in the fact that the two they have are incredibly competitive and hard working. They also are incredibly likable and will hopefully play a big role in turning the franchise around. If they falter, well, there's always Byron Mullens as a wildcard...