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                   === 2013-14 Charlotte Bobcats Preview ===
 By Jim Brighters, NBA Editor
 ( - For the 2012-13 NBA season, the Charlotte Bobcats were
 not as historically bad as they were the previous season.
 That's what they should've printed on their season tickets.
 Two seasons ago, the Bobcats had the worst winning percentage in league
 history. If not for a labor-shortened season, Charlotte could have enjoyed the
 worst record ever.
 Last season was much better, although the Bobcats would not be confused with
 the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls. The Bobcats did pick up seven wins in November.
 And 14 over the next five months.
 The Bobcats suffered through an 18-game losing streak that spanned into a 1-15
 December. They were back to being the laughing stock of the NBA. (In fact, a
 three-game Charlotte winning streak at the end of the season gave the Orlando
 Magic the worst record in the league.)
 With some cash in pocket (after finally jettisoning the unreliable Tyrus
 Thomas), and a need for an impact guy, the Bobcats signed Al Jefferson to a
 three-year deal.
 Jefferson has never gotten the royal treatment his numbers may warrant. The
 center has averaged 18.9 ppg and 10.1 rpg over the last seven season, all the
 while staying relatively healthy. (Jefferson tweaked an ankle in a preseason
 game, but should be fine.)
 "The Charlotte Bobcats did a great job coming at me (in free agency) and made
 me feel like they were a team that really respected my game and made me feel
 like a part of the family," said Jefferson.
 They could use a borderline superstar. The Bobcats tied for 26th in scoring
 and 27th in rebounding, two things Jefferson should help with immediately.
 Jefferson is not known as a good defensive player and Charlotte could
 definitely use a boost on that side of the floor. The Bobcats finished 29th in
 opponents' scoring.
 With a fringe superstar in the fold, stability should come with it. Problem
 is, Michael Jordan and the rest of the Bobcats brass canned Mike Dunlap after
 just a season. Dunlap was different, yes, but the team improved under his
 guidance, yet he was still shown the door.
 Enter Steve Clifford, formerly of the Los Angeles Lakers coaching staff. He
 will be the sixth different Bobcats coach in the last 10 years.
 "I think the culture starts around the head coach and the team leaders,"
 Clifford said at his introductory press conference. "They're going to set the
 tone every day in practice and set the tone for the intensity every night you
 Those leaders are Jefferson, Kemba Walker, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Gerald
 Henderson, Ben Gordon and Ramon Sessions.
 "The younger core guys are above average competitors," noted Clifford.
 That may be true, but for the Bobcats to match last season's win total, it'll
 take more that competitiveness.
 2012-13 Results: 21-61, 4th in Southeast. Missed playoffs.
 ADDITIONS: HC Steve Clifford, C Al Jefferson, F/C Cody Zeller, F Anthony
 PG- Kemba Walker
 SG- Gerald Henderson
 SF- Michael Kidd-Gilchrest
 PF- Cody Zeller
 C-  Al Jefferson
 KEY RESERVES: G Ben Gordon, G Ramon Sessions, F Josh McRoberts, C Bismack
 Biyombo, F Jeffrey Taylor, G Jannero Pargo, F Anthony Tolliver
 FRONTCOURT: Jefferson is a sensational low-post talent. He will immediately
 improve the on-court product, but Jefferson has never been a winner at any
 point in his career. That may be remarkably bad luck, but it might be
 reflective of him. (Jefferson has never been labeled anything but a model
 Kidd-Gilchrist was the second pick in the 2012 NBA Draft and was not taken to
 be an impact guy right away. His numbers were modest (9.0 ppg, 5.8 rpg and 1.5
 apg), and his shooting needs to improve. Kidd-Gilchrist posted marks of 45
 percent from the field (good) and 22 percent from the 3-point line (bad). His
 development is key to the Bobcats' franchise. His numbers should go up some.
 Zeller was an odd choice for the fourth pick in this past draft. He has many
 pros in his column including being a great athlete, possessing a high
 basketball IQ, shockingly good range and being a great passer. Zeller may not
 be strong enough to battle bigs on the block every night.
 BACKCOURT: Walker might have had the best season no one outside the Walker
 family cared about in 2012-13. He averaged 17.7 ppg, 5.7 apg, 2.0 spg. He shot
 42 percent from the field and 32 percent from long range. Walker is a legit
 NBA point guard.
 Henderson emerged a bit. While his scoring average (15.5 ppg) remained steady,
 he shot 33 percent from beyond the arc and he signed a reasonable free-agent
 contract in the offseason. He may not be the cornerstone two guard, but he's
 BENCH: Gordon and Sessions could be the best bench backcourt in the league.
 Both can score and probably deserve to be on the floor at the end of games.
 Biyombo and Taylor showed flashes and Dunlap fell over himself in love with
 McRoberts, although he's probably best served to sit at the end of the bench.
 This group is thin other than the backcourt.
 COACHING: Clifford received glowing reviews from the former head coaches who
 employed him. Perhaps his biggest hire was Patrick Ewing as lead assistant.
 The Hall of Famer can help both starting big men, especially Zeller, who, like
 Ewing, can shoot it from the perimeter.
 The one thing Clifford has going for him that Dunlap didn't, is that Clifford
 knows today's NBA players. He worked for the Van Gundy brothers and knows
 defense and how to do things properly.
 Clifford seems to be more the right man for the job than Dunlap was. If
 Jordan, president of basketball operations Rod Higgins and general manager
 Rich Cho give Clifford time, he might make the Bobcats relevant.
 OUTLOOK: That won't happen this season.
 Jefferson was a good addition and Zeller will surprise some, but there is not
 enough talent for the Bobcats to sniff the postseason. Walker, Henderson and
 Kidd-Gilchrist are the start of something, but it's just a start.
 A mild improvement on the 21 wins is reasonable. Give everyone some time to
 build together, add some more high draft picks and Charlotte might reach the
 playoffs later this decade.
 10/15 14:26:08 ET