There have been a few surprising teams in the NBA so far this season, and the Charlotte Bobcats have been one of those pleasant surprises. Charlotte made the move to acquire Al Jefferson this past offseason, which garnered national media attention and made expectations rise for the team. Currently the Bobcats are 30-34 and ranked seventh in the Eastern Conference playoff race.
Could the Charlotte Bobcats make a run up the standings in the Eastern Conference?
The team has been playing great basketball since the All-Star break and look poised to make a stretch run as the playoffs close in. Al Jefferson is proving the Bobcats right in giving him the big contract that they gave him this past offseason, and Kemba Walker has also elevated his play to another level. If the Bobcats continue playing at the rate that they have been, they very well could make a move for better playoff positioning.
Al Jefferson is averaging 21.3 points and 10.3 rebounds per game to help spur the Bobcats on in their journey to the playoffs. Kemba Walker is chipping in a respectable 17.9 points, 5.7 assists, and 4.3 rebounds per game himself. Both of these guys have taken the team and made it theirs, and are evolving into great leaders. If the Bobcats have any hopes of winning some games in the playoffs and surprising some people, they are going to need these two to lead the way.
Charlotte made a move at the trade deadline that proved that they were all in for this season. Gary Neal and Luke Ridnour were acquired from the Milwaukee Bucks in exchange for Ramon Sessions and Jeff Adrien. Neal has added some much needed scoring off of the bench, and Ridnour has stepped in and played some spot backup point guard minutes. The Bobcats could have stood pat with what they had, but they knew that they needed a veteran scorer with playoff experience to make a run at a postseason appearance.
So the question then becomes, can this team continue to beat teams that are better than them on paper? They have defeated teams like the Indiana Pacers, Memphis Grizzlies, Golden State Warriors, and Los Angeles Clippers this season, and have shown that they can hang with the best teams in the league even in some of their losses. As the season begins to wind down and teams begin to prepare for the playoffs, the championship contenders will begin to take their game to the next level.
Overall, there’s no question that the Charlotte Bobcats can make a run up the standings in the Eastern Conference. They are just six games behind the third seeded Toronto Raptors, and have a very favorable schedule remaining. It will be very intriguing to watch how this team handles the stretch run towards the playoffs, and where they finish in the standings.
Evan Massey is a Staff Writer for HoopsHabit.com. Follow Evan on Twitter at @Massey_Evan.