by Marcel Mutoni

The pre-season is underway and the regular season jumps off in less than a month (Oct. 31), so it’s probably time to start previewing the 2006-2007 NBA season. With the help of some of the most prominent hoop writers on the web (bloggers and newspaper columnists), we’ll be taking an in-depth look at each one of the 30 teams.

Today, Serena Hays from Bobcat Bonfire helps us preview her team, the Charlotte Bobcats.

SLAM: What role do you see rookie Adam Morrison playing on this team, and can he be successful in this league?

SH: Adam Morrison will have to be a scorer on this team. The Bobcats have role players already. Raymond Felton is a playmaker and leads the team in assists. Gerald Wallace is an excellent defender and can score when needed. Emeka Okafor and Sean May are good rebounders and can put in the tip shot. Morrison will add to the perimeter shooting, and he’ll be expected to average 20 points per game. Will he do that this year? Probably not, but in the long run that is the goal. As for the second part of the question, I think that he can be successful in the NBA. I think he has a lot of potential to be realized, and it will probably take him a few years to reach it, but he will get there. He has already made an impact on the team, and should he leave the Bobcats at some point, he should have no trouble adjusting somewhere else.

The ‘Cats have a number of promising young players—Okafor, Wallace, May, Felton—to build around for the future. Is excitement building up for the team in Charlotte?

Around the city there is always talk of the Panthers and Bobcats. Everyone is so excited to have a team back in Charlotte, and the addition of Adam Morrison has been huge for the team. Sean May and Raymond Felton both went to UNC, and there’s nothing better in North Carolina than ACC basketball. The fact that both of them came here was also huge in gaining interest in the team. People are starting to see that the team has a lot of potential, and they have a good chance to do well this year. The team has steadily improved each year, and the fans around the city notice that. As the Bobcats continue to improve and build on the players that are there, more and more people will watch the games and become interested in the team.

Most of us only get to see Gerald Wallace on the highlights (when he sends people’s shots into the 5th row or booms on someone’s head). How good of a player is he?

Recently I did a Podcast with Ryan from Hoops Addict and he asked me who the fantasy sleeper is on the Bobcats team. I said Gerald Wallace. Because the team doesn’t get a lot of time on national TV, people don’t get to see the other great things he does on the court. He lead the league in steals last year. When half of the team was on the bench hurt, Wallace stepped it up and lead the team in scoring in the last 2 months of the season. He is one of the best all-around players I have seen, and he’s also probably the most underrated player in the league. He doesn’t have that “star” quality or that exceptional talent and ability to score at will, but he is so rounded out that he really makes this team what it is. When he fully realizes his potential he will be awesome in the NBA.

With M.J. now on board, should we expect a change in team culture and identity?

So far I haven’t seen too many changes in the team culture and identity, and MJ may not want to change that. In fact, I don’t think he should touch it. Bernie Bickerstaff has done a great job with this team as GM and Head Coach. The team is still working on finding that one thing that makes them who they are. The one thing that people will say, “Hey, that reminds me of the Bobcats.” I think MJ can help them find that “one thing” that they’re searching for, but I don’t see much else changing. One person can’t make too much of a change on something that affects the whole team. The players determine what they want their culture and identity to be, but I’m sure MJ can help guide them.

Alright, enough foreplay, how will the BETcats fare this season?

I predicted in the podcast I mentioned earlier that the Bobcats would win 40-45 games this year. I still believe that to be the case, with them inching in to that 8th spot in the East and making the playoffs. They probably won’t advance past the first round, but to reach the playoffs in their 4th season as a team is pretty cool. Hopefully I’m not jinxing the team by saying that, but if they miss the playoffs it won’t be by much!