Richardson isn't ready to make another playoff guarantee just yet.
Gerald Wallace set the Bobcats' scoring record last season by averaging 18.1 points. Since 2004-05, when Charlotte joined the NBA, every other team has had at least one player average 20 or more points.
Record: 33-49 (11th in East) Points scored:96.9 (18th in NBA) Points allowed: 100.6 (21st) Coach:Sam Vincent (first season with Bobcats)
A young club looks to a veteran guard who's not afraid to take the big shots
The day after he was traded from Golden State to Charlotte, in June, Jason
Richardson was still stewing over the deal as he drove to his hometown of
Saginaw, Mich. "I had been in Golden State for six years, and it was kind of a
shock," says Richardson, who was dealt for the rights to No. 8 pick Brandan
Wright on draft night. Then he got a call from Bobcats co-owner Michael Jordan.
"Michael told me how important I was to the team," says the 26-year-old
Richardson. "He said they were looking at me as a [player] to take the franchise
to the next level. It definitely made me feel a lot better."
Charlotte hopes Richardson can fill a role that Jordan played in his early
days with Chicago: the go-to guy on an up-and-coming team. He may not be a
defender of MJ's caliber, but Richardson is a 6' 6" former slam dunk champ who
scores (18.3 career average), hits the boards (5.4 rebounds) and wears
number 23. He and versatile small forward Gerald Wallace should provide a
high-flying perimeter tandem in the manner of Jordan and Scottie Pippen.
One thing Richardson won't do yet is guarantee a playoff spot, which he did
after Golden State missed the 2005-06 postseason; the following year he led the
Warriors into their first playoffs since 1994. With forwards Sean May
(microfracture surgery on right knee) and Adam Morrison (torn left ACL) out for
the season, the Bobcats' frontcourt is thin. Otherwise Charlotte is on track to
contend for a playoff spot soon, having improved its win total in each of its
first three seasons (18 wins to 26 to 33) and stockpiled young talent such
as Emeka Okafor, Raymond Felton, Matt Carroll and Walter Herrmann.
"We're young and athletic, with guys who can get up and down the floor," says
Richardson. "I think we can make the playoffs." His new boss doesn't expect
anything less. -- Marty