It’s no secret that the Bobcats are among the youngest teams in the league with plenty of upside. A team so young can develop in many different ways. It could go the route of the Thunder, hitting on a trio of future all-star talents in consecutive drafts, including a potential all-time great in Kevin Durant. However, some teams have been less fortunate as their young players haven’t quite panned out like they hoped.
Most young players will improve after entering the NBA, sparking plenty of debate among fans, analysts, and NBA team staff alike, on just what a young player’s future could look like. Let’s take a look at what Charlotte’s young talent could look like with a few more years of experience and seasoning under their belts.
Kemba Walker- Kemba is an established stud in the league just two years in. He’s just 23 and has 107 starts in his young career. His exceptional quickness and balance set him apart as both an offensive threat and a defensive pest and with more experience and finally a big man or two to pass to, Kemba could blossom into a point guard the league will really start to notice. The talent is there for Kemba, but now he needs to use it to its fullest extent by producing a lot and doing it efficiently.
Worst Case: Ty Lawson- Lawson’s already a lightning-quick point guard that can really score the ball. Kemba is right there with Lawson already, so Kemba’s worst case scenario is that his 23-year-old self has already peaked and was glorified slightly by Mike Dunlap’s point guard-centric game plan last year.
Best Case: less athletic Derrick Rose- Last season, Kemba put up similar numbers as a rookie Derrick Rose. Derrick Rose won an MVP award just two years after his rookie campaign- can we be super-optimistic for a moment and say it’s not impossible that Kemba has a similar breakout in a year or two?
Likely Case: less efficient Tony Parker- Parker shot an absurd 52% from the field last season, while putting up 20.3 points and 7.6 assists a game. Normalize the crazy shooting percentages, and you still have a superb player. Kemba could become this player, but with better defense. He’ll take a couple years to get there, but those are All-Star caliber stats. Should Kemba come close to this, he’s got a couple All-Star appearances in his future.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist- MKG is a tough player to pin down, given his tremulous rookie season. He started off his rookie year scorching hot, even becoming the second player in NBA history (after Lebron James) to record multiple 25 point, 12 rebound performances while still a teenager. (Source: http://www.nba.com/bobcats/
Worst Case: Rich man’s Matt Barnes – MKG is likely already better than the Clippers’ role player, but MKG’s severe jump shot woes could hold his progression as a player. Should everything fall to shambles in his career (disregarding injuries), MKG would still be a very handy role player as a 6th man.
Best Case: Shawn Marion- The Matrix was a highly underrated player in his prime. Small forwards that can score, defend, and rebound at an elite level don’t come along very often. MKG made his mark as a rookie, defending, rebounding, and slashing at a solid level. Both players’ jumpers are absolutely cringe-worthy, and their rookie numbers are fairly similar. The Cats would be thrilled to have anything resembling Marion in Kidd-Gilchrist.
Likely Case: Gerald Wallace- Wallace was a Charlotte hero for nearly seven years, and less than 18 months after Bobcats traded Wallace, they drafted a Wallace clone in MKG. MKG’s raw athleticism, prowess on the boards and on defense make the lazy comparison make so much sense. Wallace, a one-time All-Star and well-recognized lock-down defender, should be the goal for a young stud like MKG.
Best Case: Lamarcus Aldridge- Rich Cho wasn’t lying- he’s knows Aldridge quite well, having been Portland’s GM for a year before taking the same position for Charlotte. Unsurprisingly, Zeller’s touch from mid-range, already decent post moves, and smooth athleticism drew Cho in, undoubtedly hoping he could snag a very similar all-star big man in a weak draft.
Likely Case: David Lee with less offense and better defense- Zeller projects to be a solid scorer in the league, very capable of pulling down 8 or more rebounds a game, and will make good decisions with the basketball. The Bobcats/Hornets would love to see Zeller replicate what Lee does on offense, but Lee’s defense is atrocious and Zeller might already be better than him at that end.
Stay tuned for the next article where we will explore the futures of youngsters Bismack Biyombo, Jeffery Taylor, and Jeff Adrien.