Are the Charlotte Bobcats improving? Or are they simply finding very new and inventive ways of breaking our hearts?
They are two very simple, albeit loaded questions. It’s a box most fans would just rather leave unopened. And I suppose that’s true for any struggling franchise.
It’s always easy to say, “Hey, they have a couple new faces, they’ve already matched last years win total, and their young players are gaining experience.”– It’s basically the equivalent of that conversation we all have with ourselves every time we go through a McDonald’s drive-thru, “Hey, at least it’s healthier than..” It’s a very generous way of holding something to the lowest possible standard.
That said, there’s always going to be a timeless standard by which we can safely gauge progress, and that’s results. Not by forecasting where a player may be in five years, or projecting a team’s next lottery pick. But by simply assessing what you have in front of you, both fairly and honestly.
As far as results are concerned, these are the assets that would meet the criteria for progress:
-Kemba Walker. Walker has improved across the board. No matter how you slice his production, he’s steadily gaining ground on the league’s top-tier point guards. Most recently in the team’s loss to Orlando, where he posted a career-high 32 points.
“I’m trying to get better,” Walker said. “That’s all you do at this point. I’m just doing whatever I can do to help my team win basketball games. No matter how many points I have I really don’t care about that stuff. I’m just trying to win. It wasn’t enough tonight.” (via USA TODAY)
As a fan, yes, 32 points makes for an enjoyable performance. However, a statement like that, following the loss, shows maturity and focus. Something far more exciting. It show’s that the Bobcats have both a leader and a cornerstone. At perhaps the most crucial position to have one.
-Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Yes, he’s a rookie. But he’s also a dedicated, high-motor player with a winning pedigree. He’s had his rookie moments, which is to be expected. But overall, he’s proven to be every bit of the jack-of-all-trades commodity he was hyped up to be.
That’s it. On the entire roster, if we’re being entirely honest with ourselves, those are the only two players playing to the best of their abilities night in and night out. They are certainly the only ones pushing the boundaries of their respective skill sets and the only one’s producing consistent results.
Lastly, this team has seven wins. It’s both a positive and a negative. They started out the season 7-5, only to succumb to an 11 game losing streak. Whether there’s something mental holding them back from last season, that’s anyone’s guess. However what we do know, is that this team is entirely too talented to be losing in the fashion that they are.
So no, the Bobcats are not improving. They will be improving when they show the desire to win and produce results. Results where it matters. Results in the wins column. They’ve shown they are capable of that already this season. They are fully capable of winning moving forward. But that’s entirely up to them.