The season is still two months away, but most of the rosters are set, barring the requisite Michael Jordan comeback rumor (just kidding, but only a little). We have an idea where our team stands, but we can't really know unless we discuss everyone else. In that spirit, I'm going to throw up a "competition discussion" thread for each of the other 29 teams over the next month or so. We'll go in alphabetical order from A to Z. Today's team: Charlotte.
Last Year's Record: 33-49
In: Jason Richardson (trade), Jared Dudley (draft), Jermario Davidson (draft), Sam Vincent (new coach).
Out: Brevin Knight (free agency), Jake Voskhul (free agency).
Projected starting lineup: Raymond Felton, Jason Richardson, Gerald Wallace, Emeka Okafor, Primoz Brezec
Bench (in no particular order): Jeff McInnis, Matt Carroll, Adam Morrison, Jared Dudley, Walter Hermann, Sean May, Jermario Davidson, Othella Harrington, Michael Jordan (kidding!).
So what do we think their record will be? Was it wise to trade for Jason Richardson? Will we see the Raymond Felton of 2005/06, or the one of 2006/07? Can they get anything out of Adam Morrison? Do they have enough up front?
Personally, this is the team I'm scared about in this division. Miami's too old to challenge the Wizards when we're healthy, Orlando didn't get any better with the Rashard Lewis signing, and Atlanta's still a year away, but Charlotte could be dangerous. Richardson's slightly overpaid, but I think he'll fit in well here. It was sad to watch J-Rich basically evolve into a dunker and three-point shooter in Don Nelson's system, when in reality he can offer so much more. He has an excellent post-up game that we really never saw in Golden State, and he doesn't need to use too many posessions to be effective, which will give plenty of touches to Wallace and Okafor. Long-term, I think they're in trouble, because I don't see Wallace and Richardson holding up for six years, but in the near future, they'll be dangerous.
The key is Felton. He was so good down the stretch in 2005/06, and many felt he, and not Deron Williams, was the point guard from the 2005 class that would challenge Chris Paul. Instead, his numbers pretty much stayed the same. After shooting 39 percent his rookie year, Felton somehow dropped to 38 percent last season, and while he averaged more points per game, it was only because he played more minutes. Without backup Brevin Knight, Felton is basically alone, and it remains to be seen whether he can succeed in a half-court system (which Charlotte seems to be).
Charlotte's probably one big man short of real contention, but I think you're looking at the division's second-place team.
I say 42-40.