With Allen Iverson looking unlikely to become a Bobcat, I felt a twinge of disappointment. Replying to Cam Ron on the chat page about the Bobcats lack of activity in free agency furthered my disappointment: The team seems to be standing still as the rest of the league is actively engaged in improving (well, except for the Nets and the Bucks). It drove home the point that the Bobcats are probably set for next season – the two draft picks put them at 13 players for 09-10 (with Dontell Jefferson counted, despite a non-guaranteed deal). Is that so bad?
I decided to check and the answer was surprisingly encouraging. While far from scientific, I just did a quick database query to see what the Bobcats did this past season with only players expected back for the coming year – so no Adam Morrison, Shannon Brown, Dwayne Jones, or many others in the results. Just the 11 – Ray, D.J., Raja, Dontell, Gerald, Vlad, Boris, Alexis, Emeka, Gana, and Nazr. The results: 106.7 offensive efficiency, 101.0 defensive efficiency. That offensive mark would have been 20th last season (and a large improvement over the Cats overall mark of 104.1 at 27th). Defensively, 101.0 would have placed 1st overall, by 0.2 points below Orlando. For the season, CLT was 7th in defensive efficiency at 105.3 – but that is a large jump. This subgroup of the team had a net efficiency of +5.7, which would have been 5th in the NBA a season ago. Not saying that a starting five of Ray, Raja, Gerald, Boris, and Emeka is a top 5 squad (or even top-10), but the core showed promise working together last season.
Oh, and this comes from a combined 1700+ minutes of court time, so it is not a small subset issue. With over 37 games worth of minutes, the 11 returning Bobcats provide fans a reason to think the Bobcats lack of movement could be seen as not complacency but expectations – expectations of a winning squad in the Queen City.