Bobcats Still Believe They Will Improve
If anything, the Charlotte Bobcats are honest about the situation they are in this season. They are well aware they have the worst record in the NBA and don’t even try to sugarcoat it.
“You are what you are and right now, we are what our record says,” Tyrus Thomas told HOOPSWORLD. “The only way to get respect is to turn that around.”
To a man, the Bobcats players realize they have a long way to go to become competitive on a nightly basis in the NBA. They have a lot of holes in their lineup, even when completely healthy, which is very rare. However, they also believe their opponents most nights over-look them by only looking at their record, rather than the players they have on their roster.
“Of course, they don’t see as many scary faces as when they play the HEAT or teams like that, but definitely they try to exploit every weakness that we have,” said Boris Diaw. “It’s tough because we don’t get much time to practice and stuff like that, so progress has been in playing together with a lot of new guys trying to play together as a team, so we’re trying to do that offensively and defensively.”
Even with such a terrible record, the Bobcats believe they are almost ready to turn a corner in the 2011-12 season. They are beginning to get their best players back from injuries and that will aid in their ability to compete each night. Losing players like Gerald Henderson, DJ Augustin and Corey Maggette for large chunks of games would be difficult for any team to overcome.
“We have had a lot of players out over the short period of this season and we’re finally getting everybody back,” said Byron Mullens. “We have to get ready to find our chemistry again and it’s going to be tough. It’s just nice having everybody back soon.”
One would think that adding your best players back into the mix would be simple, but everything is more difficult in this lockout shortened season. There is just too little practice time for any team, but a young team like Charlotte needs that time together, learning the game and learning each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Adding all the injuries on top of an extended summer equals many players with very limited conditioning by their professional athlete standards.
“It’s a little tough because you have to worry about the conditioning part of it and when you run out of the gas, do you have enough energy to get up shots, run down the court and play hard defense?” said Corey Maggette. “Hopefully, when we get guys back, they’ll get back to a level where they can play at a high level.”
Amazingly, the Bobcats still believe in themselves. Do they think they can turn it around, go on a miraculous run to make the playoffs? Of course not, as they are realistic in the expectations of them coming into the season and at this point in an amazingly bad season.
“I think we will be a much better team now that everyone is starting to come back,” Kemba Walker told HOOPSWORLD. “We were missing our leading scorer, so I think we’ll be a way better team. I’ve had the chance to get all this experience playing, so with DJ coming back and Gerald, I’ll be a much better player myself. Guys like Reggie, Byron and myself coming off the bench, we’ll have that spark.”
“It’s not a challenge at all because we really have nothing to lose,” adds Mullens. “We’re just going to go out there and play hard. We just have to stay mentally ready, go out and play hard every game. If we lose, but we play hard, we really can’t say anything about it. We just have to go out there and give it our best. I’m just trying to get some wins, man. If that means me having 20 points or zero points, whatever it is, I’m just trying to win.”
Despite the amount of losing this season and injuries to go along with it, they have never dropped their heads and given up. This is a team that gives everything they have each and every night and has simply found themselves to be over-matched. They have been able to find the positives—any sort of silver-lining to this season—and believe they are preparing to build upon them.
“It’s hard and a lot of that is due to the compacted schedule we’ve been having, being young and not having practice time,” said Matt Carroll. “Put all three together and it’s been really tough for us. You have to look at the positives of everything and the positive of DJ being out is it gave Kemba a chance to hone his skills at this NBA level, get better, get experience and get a lot of valuable playing time, which is only going to help him as the season goes forward.”
“You just have to stay prayerful about it and stay positive,” adds Maggette. “I tell our young guys to stay positive and upbeat when you come in here because you know in our situation there is somebody worse off than we are, not only in basketball but in the real world. Be thankful for another day, thankful to play this beautiful game we’ve been blessed with and hopefully, we can make that transition and get some wins.”
Once everyone is back, the biggest challenge will fall on the coaching staff to find minutes for both their older and younger players. There are plenty of players they need to evaluate for the remainder of the season as well to determine if they will return to the team next year. Even with all that on their plates, the Bobcats players simply have confidence they will do what’s best for the team.
“We have a great coaching staff, so they’ll figure it out,” said Walker.
If you don’t believe in them, they don’t care. All that matters are the positive attitudes in the locker room and they have that in spades.
“At the end of the day, we have to do our jobs,” said Carroll. “Our jobs are to come to work, give the best effort we can every day and try to get wins. That’s what we’re doing regardless of what our record is and that’s not going to stop. When you listen to everything on the outside, listen to what people are saying and look at what’s going on, you want to put your head down sometimes, but you can’t. If you do that, we’re never going to win games. We have to continue to fight.”
Their best players are on the way to aid in the fight.