Say these words out loud with me: Charlotte Bobcats . . . playoffs. Did you just say the Charlotte Bobcats made the playoffs? Seriously, it seems like the Bobcats have been around a lot longer than they really have, so it surprised me when I looked it up and it was only 2004. In 2010, the Bobcats made it to the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. I would love to take credit for predicting that they would indeed be making a splash in the postseason pool. The only problem with that is I have to shamelessly admit I have been picking them as a sleeper team for about three of four years now. So I eventually was going to be right. You know what I’m just going to look at it this way, I was right, period. For a team that hasn’t even been around for a whole decade, the Charlotte Bobcats have accumulated some very talented athletic players, the only problem for them is they all seem to have only stuck for a couple of seasons. The 2009-10 season was when a few pieces of the puzzle finally started to gel together. Here are the best five Charlotte Bobcats from 2004-2010. (Only accomplishments and stats while playing for the Charlotte Bobcats from 2004-2010 were considered.)
1. Gerald Wallace
Will this guy ever get the pub that he deserves? Some say he is just an athletic garbage man. I say let’s finally realize that Gerald Wallace is one of the most unheralded stars in the NBA. Wallace is a fierce defender and a match-up problem on the other side of the court. With aid from his new teammate Stephen Jackson, Wallace helped carry the Bobcats to their first ever playoff appearance in the 2009-10 season, by averaging 18.2 points and 10.0 rebounds per game. In 2009-10, Wallace made his first NBA All-Star Team and was also named to the All-NBA First Defensive Team.
2. Emeka Okafor
Okafor was the can’t miss prospect from U Conn that the Bobcats took as the first overall pick of the 2004 NBA draft. He produced results from the moment he hit the floor, averaging 15.1 points, 10.9 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game in his rookie season. Any questions on why he was named the 2005 NBA Rookie of the Year? It seemed like he was destined to become a dominant center that would eventually score 20 points a game and thrash opposing centers in the paint. Although Okafor provided Charlotte with a consistent double double center for five seasons, he was never able to take that extra step to stardom. He was dealt to New Orleans before the 2009-10 season.
3. Raymond Felton
Felton played five seasons with the Charlotte Bobcats and followed a similar path as did Okafor, but to a lesser extent. Felton was never supposed to be the superstar of the team, but maybe a young blossoming all-star. He averaged 11.9 points and 5.6 assists per game in his rookie season, but like Okafor, didn’t take a huge step forward after that. At his max, he averaged a little over 14 points per game and 7.4 assists. He signed with the New York Knicks after the 2009-2010 season.
4. Stephen Jackson
Who are you going to put here, Brevin Knight? Jackson only played one season with Charlotte, but don’t forget this franchise has only been around since the 2004-05 season. What matters is that Jackson made the most of that one season with the Bobcats and helped lead them to the playoffs by averaging a career high 21.1 points per game. He even has his name in the Charlotte record books for the most points scored in a game with 43 that he dropped on the Houston Rockets.
5. Jason Richardson
Richardson only played a little bit over a season with the Bobcats, but as mentioned with Jackson, the well isn’t so deep when looking for Bobcats. In 2008-09, his only full season with Charlotte, J-Rich averaged 21.8 points and 5.4 rebounds per game. After fourteen games in the 2008-09 season, he was traded to the Phoenix Suns.