(NOTE: Now that most NBA rosters have taken shape for the
upcoming year, Jason and I will be previewing a hand-picked selection of teams
that stand out for their unique shades of terrible.)
I can picture Mike Dunlap (that’s because I just googled
him…one minute ago I had absolutely no idea what he looked like), in full press
conference mode four months from now after the Bobcats drop their tenth
straight game. A reporter asks him how
he keeps his young team positive, especially when, you know, 49% of the team’s
total salary is being spent on Ben Gordon, Tyrus Thomas, and DeSagana Diop.
“Stephen Jackson’s not walking through that door, fans. Gerald Wallace is not walking through that
door, and Raymond Felton is not walking through that door. And if you expect
them to walk through that door, they're gonna be grey and old, or, in Felton’s
case, they’ll look like they’ve eaten someone grey and old. What we are is
young, exciting, hard-working and going to improve...As soon as you fans
realize that those three guys are not coming through that door, the better this
town will be for all of us.”
OMG…you’re that dude
that makes those great instructional DVDs!
Those types of press conferences happen in Boston, not in
Charlotte, though. Does anyone even care
that the Bobcats were awful last year? Historically
awful? Or that the only version of
Bobcats glory that Dunlap can ever refer back to is the 2009-10 first-round playoff
exit, which occurred in the “one year that players listen to Larry Brown” phase
of the Larry Brown cycle? (Or, as it’s also known, “one year before players tune
out Larry Brown.”)
You already know that the Bobcats own the worst winning
percentage in a single season in NBA history.
But here’s a couple more stats to show you how bad last year was:
Exactly ONE player on the team shot over 50% from the field. That player was Derrick Brown.
2) Despite the apparent multitude
of (offensive) rebounding opportunities, no Bobcats player averaged over 5.8
3) The team’s field goal percentage was
so bad (41.4) that having Brandon Jennings on their roster last year would have
actually IMPROVED their percentage.
Things won’t be getting better anytime soon. Just check out their roster for next
. One of the few nice things you
can say about it (besides mentioning MKG of course) is that Ramon Sessions is a great fit, since he is terrible in
the playoffs and won’t have to worry about that type of pressure in
Charlotte. But maybe Bobcats fans can
take solace in the fact that their leadership has a strategic plan. It’s a two-step plan that goes like this: (1)
Do everything short of throwing games to ensure an awful win-loss record (2) Pray
to whatever god gave Tim Duncan to the Spurs and Kevin Durant to the Thunder.
New Bobcats Ramon Sessions and Brendan Haywood step into the
media-frenzied waters of Charlotte
as reporters clamor for attention.
As Henry Abbott
recently pointed out
, this seems to be the default strategy of all former Thunder front office employees. The
Magic (run by former Presti-an Rob Hannigan) took a terrible trade for Howard
because it makes more sense for them to be awful and hope for a
franchise-changing draft pick than to swallow a max contract for Brook Lopez
and lock themselves into first-round playoff exits (at best) for the next five
years. For the Bobcats and Magic, the 2012-13
marketing campaign is basically “Be the first to get on the 2020 bandwagon!”
To the Bobcats credit, they have found new and ingenious
ways of setting up their team for failure.
Along with a middle-of-the-ACC-pack roster, they decided to hire Dunlap,
whose previous gig was being an assistant at St. John’s. Supposedly, Dunlap
is a “coach’s coach” of sorts,
a guy who is appreciated by those in the
business, but unknown outside the coaching circles. In other words, he’s great at developing
talent, making instructional DVDs, and publishing coaching-related articles (including
the 1987 gem “Basic Framework for
Achieving Academic Eligibility for Your Players
,” which North Carolina
should have read. Or maybe they did, and
that’s the problem.) He’s the perfect
assistant coach, so of course he’s been given the head coaching job. I can only assume he impressed Michael Jordan
with his performance in one-on-one games against the other coaching candidates.
The cherry on top of this lottery-bound
mess is the decision to
allow the Democratic National Convention to take over the Bobcats home at
exactly the same time that teams are beginning their training camps. Instead of practicing in an NBA-appropriate
facility, the Bobcats will spend the majority of September with two-hour-a-day
access to the Johnson and Wales University gym. To
rephrase: an NBA franchise will be practicing for most of September in a gym
belonging to a 2,500 student college.
Enjoy your rookie season, MKG. It’ll get better in 2020.