It's no accidentthat the Bobcats resemble the cast of so many One Shining Moment montages, with10 members of the training camp roster having reached the NCAA tournament'sSweet 16. "When we were formulating our plans for the franchise, we wantedto try to find players who had been in winning programs," coach and generalmanager Bernie Bickerstaff says. "These people know how to win, and knowhow to surmount difficult times."
Difficult times,indeed: In its two seasons Charlotte is 44--120. But Bickerstaff is sticking tohis plan. Adding to a nucleus of NCAA stars--forwards Emeka Okafor and Sean Mayand guard Raymond Felton--the team used the third pick to draft Gonzaga forwardAdam Morrison. The most resounding support for the choice came from new partowner Michael Jordan.
While somesnickered last March as Morrison's tears dripped from his wispy mustache in theclosing seconds of Gonzaga's 73--71 regional semifinal loss to UCLA, Jordan wastouched. "It is hard to find people who are willing to put their heart intosomething so much that they become emotional about it," he said on draftday. The Bobcats, whose field goal percentage (43.3%) was last in 2005--06,will find a go-to scorer in the 6'8" Morrison (a career 50.3% from thefield in college). Meanwhile the defense, which ranked 28th in opponent fieldgoal percentage (47.8%), will get a boost from the returns of Okafor and May,who missed a combined 115 games last season. Charlotte still won't make theplayoffs, but it's on the right path to finding a few shining moments.
ProjectedStarting Lineup with 2005--06 statistics
Record: 26--56(T13 in East)
Points scored: 96.9 (18th in NBA)
Points allowed: 100.9 (24th)
Coach: Bernie Bickerstaff
(third season with the Bobcats)
Adam Morrison *(R)
[This articlecontains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]
BENCH 2005--06 STATS
WALTER HERRMANN * (r)
(R) ROOKIE (COLLEGE STATISTICS)
(r) ROOKIE (SPANISH LEAGUE STATISTICS)
An opposing team's scout sizes up the Bobcats
They play aphysical style, and their aggressive defense forced the most turnovers in theleague (17.4 per game). They were outrebounded by more than four per game lastyear, but I attribute that to the absences of Emeka Okafor and Sean May....Adam Morrison was a great choice with the No. 3 pick. They needed shooting, andMorrison is more ready than most guys to contribute immediately. He canstruggle scoring against quicker people, but he's smart, and with the big guyssetting screens for him, he'll be able to get open.... Their point guardposition is so strong that Raymond Felton and his backup, Brevin Knight, woundup playing together a lot. By playing off the ball, Felton was able to improvehis outside shot--he hit 35.8% of his threes, which was impressive for a rookiewhose jumper had been considered questionable.... Gerald Wallace isn't a goodshooter, but he's a guy who produces across the board. He was fourth in theleague in field goal percentage, which tells you that he knows his limitationsand doesn't take a lot of bad shots.
Gerald Wallace(2.51 steals per game) and Brevin Knight (2.28) were the first teammates tofinish one-two in a major category since Boston's Kevin McHale and RobertParish in 1987--88 (FG%).