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Bobcats 1 win away from matching last year's total

Associated Press Modified: November 22, 2012 at 11:47 am •  Published: November 22, 2012
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Right now their starting five consists of two rookies in Taylor and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, the No. 2 overall pick who has had an immediate impact averaging 11.9 points and 6.8 rebounds per game. Forward Byron Mullens, who sat for two years in Oklahoma City before being acquired last year in a trade, is essentially in his second season like Walker.

The only starter with significant experience is center Brendan Haywood, who was claimed off waivers from Dallas.

But the Bobcats are getting quality play off the bench from offseason acquisitions Ramon Sessions and Ben Gordon, two scorers brought in to give the team some needed experience down the stretch in tight games.

Both have provided a huge boost with Sessions averaging 16.3 points per game and Gordon 13 points per game, second and third best on the team.

"It's an interesting group because we are young and I think there's an exuberance and a little bit of being excited about the game of basketball, and I think the veterans have picked up on that," Dunlap said. "It's been a joy to coach them and I think we're learning as we play each game. That exuberance is an intangible."

That exuberance is evident in Walker, who has developed into the team's leader and flourished working alongside Sessions in practice and down the stretch in tight games.

Walker is averaging 18.8 points and 5.5 assists per game.

Despite being 6-foot, Walker is fearless driving to the basket and has improved in his ability to finish.

"He's our quarterback," Dunlap said. "We're developing him. He's setting the culture for us. There's a lot on his plate, but he can handle it. When he was coming out of college a year ago I thought he was the best player in America."

Just how long the Bobcats are able to keep things up remains to be seen.

The Bobcats have some quality wins against Dallas, Milwaukee and Minnesota, but have yet to play the league's elite teams like Miami, Oklahoma City and the New York Knicks.

That may be when the true test comes.

When it does, Dunlap hopes the foundation for success has been established and the Bobcats will be confident enough to compete with the best.

"We're trying to build a winning culture here, and every win helps," Dunlap said.