Thursday , Oct , 19 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

Charlotte Bobcats 2006-07 Season Preview

(Sports Network) – Charlotte improved from 18 wins in its inaugural season to
26 victories during the 2005-06 campaign. The Bobcats are a franchise that has
a plan and continues to build for the future.

The Bobcats dealt with some injuries last season, as 2004-05 Rookie of the
Year Emeka Okafor missed 56 games because of an injured right ankle and
forward Gerald Wallace was sidelined for 27 contests. Okafor averaged 13.2
points and 10.0 rebounds when he was on the court, while Wallace registered
15.2 points and 7.5 boards per game.

Forward Sean May, who was selected out of North Carolina by Charlotte in first
round (13th pick overall) of the 2005 NBA Draft, appeared in just 23 games
because of a right knee injury. The 6-9 May contributed 8.2 point and 4.7
rebounds when he played.

Point guard Raymond Felton, who was the fifth overall pick in the 2005 draft,
had a solid rookie campaign and continues to improve as the season progressed.
A North Carolina product, Felton averaged 11.9 points and 5.6 assists in 80
contests. He started 54 games and showed that he has a bright future in the
league.

After the season, the Bobcats used the third overall pick in the 2006 draft to
grab Gonzaga’s Adam Morrison. Charlotte hopes that the 22-year-old Morrison
will be the same scorer that he was in college. Morrison and a healthy Okafor
would give the Bobcats a dangerous tandem up front for many years to come.

Felton, Morrison and Okafor are the building blocks for this franchise. Add
a healthy Wallace and May to the mix, and good things could start happening
very quickly in Charlotte.

BACKCOURT

Felton is the point guard of the future. He proved that he is ready for the
NBA during his rookie campaign. The 6-1 Felton is a playmaker who also has the
ability to score. He could be paired with Wallace, who will also get a lot of
minutes at small forward in the starting lineup.

Veteran Brevin Knight is still on the roster and is a great asset for the
Bobcats. He can play alongside Felton and is also a very competent at running
the offense. The 30-year-old Knight averaged 12.6 points and a team-best 8.8
assists in 69 games last season.

The backcourt still needs improvement. Matt Carroll and Bernard Robinson, who
can also play small forward, will see significant time in Charlotte’s
backcourt. In a perfect world both players would be role players, but for the
Bobcats they are key figures who are counted on to score and play a lot of
minutes at shooting guard.

Charlotte needs some help in the scoring department in the backcourt. A
shooting guard who can knock down the outside jumper and stretch the defense
is just what the doctor is recommending for the Bobcats.

FRONTCOURT

Morrison and the 24-year-old Okafor, who will play center and power forward,
are the cornerstones to Charlotte’s frontcourt. Morrison will hopefully be the
dangerous outside shooter he was for Gonzaga, while Okafor makes his living
from the low post. Okafor is an excellent defender and a tough rebounder.
Morrison is not known for his defense, but his offensive skill may be the
perfect complement for Okafor.

Primoz Brezec is a decent center and will most likely start alongside Morrison
and Okafor. Brezec averaged 12.4 points and 5.6 rebounds in 79 games. He made
51.7 percent of his attempts from the floor and logged over 27 minutes per
contest.

Othella Harrington, who signed with the team as a free agent during the
offseason, May, Jake Voskuhl and Wallace will get plenty of playing time.
Wallace will either start at shooting guard or be the sixth man, while the
team would like the 22-year-old May to eventually work his way into the
starting lineup next to Morrison and Okafor. Harrington and Voskuhl are big
bodies who will clog up the middle and be expected to play tough on the
boards and add some toughness off the bench.

The Bobcats are hoping their youthful frontcourt will mature together. If May,
Morrison and Okafor are the starting frontcourt by the end of year three of
this franchise, general manager and head coach Bernie Bickerstaff will have a
big smile on his face.

OUTLOOK

The third season will not be the charm for the Bobcats. There are still holes
that need to be filled and this franchise is still in first phase of
construction. Things are progressing, but the postseason is still far away.
Look for 30 wins and another ticket to the lottery.

CHL