With so much change and turnover within the Charlotte Bobcats organization from a year ago, one would have to think that the level of anticipation for the upcoming season is at an all-time high. The Bobcats opened training camp on the first day of October in the mountains of Asheville, North Carolina where the leaves have already began to change colors, a great example of how things can look so different from one season to the next.
It was very clear to team owner, Michael Jordan that some moves needed to be made regarding the philosophy of the team as the 2012-2013 season came to a close with his club finishing with a 21-61 record.
The first shoe to drop during this extreme makeover was replacing former head coach Mike Dunlap, who had minimal NBA experience with Steve Clifford who has been coaching in the league for over 21 years, including stints in Orlando, Houston and Most recently with the Lakers a year ago.
From the first day of training camp it was evident that Clifford has a very organized and professional approach to getting his team ready for the upcoming season. It was also quite clear that this group of players seems very eager to play for their coaching staff and who wouldn't? With the likes of Patrick Ewing working with guys in the post and Mark Price breaking down the proper form for the young jump shooters, this compilation of assistant coaches commands a lot of attention and so far the team is responding.
The second shoe to drop was the need to upgrade the level of talent while continuing to develop the core of young players Charlotte hopes to build its future around. It was a very busy summer for Jordan and his staff but one that appears to have been well worth it, even if some didn't agree with their decisions at the time.
Draft night did not sit well with Bobcats fans and they let it be known after Charlotte selected Cody Zeller from Indiana with the the fourth overall pick. General manager Rich Cho, Rod Higgins and Jordan all felt that Zeller was the best big man in the draft and after the Summer League session in Las Vegas, many of those draft day naysayers may just agree with them.
Zeller averaged 17 points and 10 rebounds per game while playing out in Vegas and he showed a tremendous outside shooting touch for a player his size. This turned out to be great news for the Bobcats who had just bolstered their inside presence by inking big Al Jefferson to a four-year deal just before Zeller boarded the plane to head out west. Jefferson gives Charlotte something they have never had in franchise history, a big time post player that wants the ball at crunch time. Retaining Gerald Henderson was the final piece to the summertime puzzle and the Bobcats finally were able to come to terms with him in mid-July.
As the first week of training camp gets under way and all of these new faces begin to form some cohesion with each other, you can kind of see that this season is going to look a lot different than the previous one. And even though all the changes haven't fallen in place yet, it doesn't hurt to imagine what it will look like when everything finally takes shape.