Why the Charlotte Bobcats could make the NBA playoffs

An overlooked, overachieving Charlotte team has as good a chance as any to steal one of the last two spots in the East. Photo: Bobcats' Kemba Walker drives to a basket against Timberwolves' Malcolm Lee AP

CHICAGO, November 20, 2012 — As new coaches often say, a winning atmosphere is important in a locker room. If a team starts losing too much, it might expect losses, giving them yet another disadvantage in close games.

So what’s a team to do? They could look for veterans with championship experience, but those players are often either past their prime or still playing on contending teams. There’s no chance for a team like the Charlotte Bobcats to pry them away.

So that leaves a losing team to the draft when it comes to adding winners, and that’s just what the Bobcats have done.

In the 2011 draft, they chose Kemba Walker with the ninth overall pick, a controversial choice to many. Not many people were moaning about that pick, however, when he dropped the game-winner on the Timberwolves this past week.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrest shows his stuff AP

In the 2012 draft, with the second overall pick, they took Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, one of its hardest-working players, in the game, and one who looks similar to LeBron on his good nights.

What do these two players have in common? They were stars on national title-winning teams the year before in college. Kemba was the go-to man for UConn, never getting tired as his team won the Big East Tournament and the National Title without stopping for a breath in between. MKG was an absolute nightmare for anyone playing the dominant Kentucky team of last season with an even better motor and incredible athleticism.

So why are people surprised that this team has a good record? They drafted wisely the past few years, added winners and spent the preseason and summer league playing with each other to build chemistry while other teams opted to rest their starters and play third-stringers.

The common knock against the Bobcats so far is that they haven’t beaten a good team, but look again. The Pacers had a lead in the playoffs against the world champion Heat last year and the Timberwolves were 5-2 before they fell to the Bobcats, regardless of whether or not Love and Rubio were able to play.

The Bobcats are playing their schedule and playing well. They’ve even shown the ability to adapt and improve (skills rare in the Bobcats camp before this year) by beating the Dallas Mavericks one week after they demolished Charlotte.

Obviously, for a new team to break into the playoff picture, someone else will have to leave, but the East is full of questionable rosters that were able to make the playoffs last year. Someone is going to have to replace the Magic, and the Hawks haven’t been lighting the world on fire this year either. The meteoric Bobcats could fill either slot, and if they continue to improve and play at this high level, Kemba, MKG and Co. could find themselves in the 2013 postseason.

Who says Michael Jordan gave up on this team?

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Nicholas Goralka

Nick Goralka is a sports enthusiast with eclectic interests. In addition to cheering on and suffering along with his Chicago teams, Nick is a competitively-ranked tennis player, enjoys debating real versus imaginary numbers in mathematical functions, and is a trumpet soloist in his Jazz ensemble which has performed throughout Chicago and for Mayor Rahm Emmanuel and Vice President Joe Biden at a recent charity fundraiser.  

Nick is still in high school, steadily working his way through his Statistics class, and learning more and more every day about analyzing the sports that he loves.

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