Diagnosing the Charlotte Bobcats

By James Blackburn

Charlotte Bobcats Kemba Walker is fouled by New York Knicks Toney Douglas in the second half at Madison Square Garden in New York City on January 4, 2012. The Bobcats defeated the Knicks 118-110. UPI/John Angelillo

    

These observations are based on watching the Bobcats playing at the Minnesota Timberwolves

The Charlotte Bobcats are off to one of the worst starts in NBA history having lost 15 straight games on the way to a 3-25 record heading into tonight’s game vs. the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The Bobcats looked better this game then in some of the previous games partly because of the return of Corey Maggette and DJ Augustin. DJ’s return helps with the teams half-court sets which looked really good in the first 3 quarters, as PG Kemba Walker is better in transition and is more of scoring guard then pure PG. Maggette brings some much needed scoring and someone else who can create his own shot. The Bobcats lead at the half 48-46, but lose 102-90.

Here are some of the positive and negatives I took away from tonight’s loss.

Negatives
• Defending the P/R- Boris really struggled shading out on Rubio on the P/R.
• Rebounding- especially on the defensive end.
• Scoring from the post- The Bobcats has zero scoring from the post. Bismack Biyombo (who started at C tonight) averages less than 7 ppg.
• Finishing inside- Corey Maggette and missed several lay-ups in first quarter alone- DJ and Diaw also missed some easy ones.
• Scoring droughts- 6 straight possessions with no scoring to end the 3rd quarter. Timberwolves go on 12-3 run to lead by 10 going into 4th.
• Defending bigs who can step out and shoot, ie. Kevin Love
• Turnovers- most of the Timberwolves runs in the first half came off Bobcats turnovers. Had 16 tonight.
• Lack of talent- The Bobcats work ethic kept them in the game for the first 3 quarters, but in the end talent will prevail- Kevin Love, Ricky Rubio, and Michael Beasley were too much for the Bobcats to handle in the end and the Timberwolves pulled away at the end to win 102-90 and hand the Bobcats their 16th straight defeat in the process.

Positives
• Looked very efficient and productive scoring the ball on the fast break. This team needs to run more and play athletic swing men on their roster more, i.e. Tyrus Thomas and DJ White. Thomas only played 12 minutes while White only played 7. Both players provide length, athleticism, and Thomas provides scoring. Charlotte averages 95 possessions a game, 17th in the NBA, but with athletes like Walker, Thomas, White, D. Brown, Henderson, and bigs who can run in B. Mullins and Biyombo they should be in the top 10 in this category.
• Attacking the rim where the player can draw the foul or kick out to shooters- 22nd in NBA with assist per game with just over 19 per game- and the team has taken almost 600 Free Throws this season.
• They looked a lot better tonight in half-court sets running there sets and getting open shots- they didn’t make them all- but they were getting open looks. The Bobcats as a hole are active and hard working on the offensive end- most of their players move well with out the ball and they have good passers in Diaw and Augustin. Paul Silas has them running somewhat of a motion with lots of off-ball screens-very few P/R and isolations.

Season Stats
• Bobcats giving up second most ppg in league (100.8), while scoring the least (86.3 ppg)- biggest problem of the team and the main reason the team is 3-25.
• The Bobcats have a -4.7 rebound differential per game

Looking into the future for this team, The Bobcats have to feeling optimistic heading into the draft. The bleak news is that 11 players on the team have guaranteed or player option contracts headed into next year, including Maggette who is being overpaid making almost $11 million next season. The Bobcats made a good move picking Walker in this past year’s draft, as he provides much needed speed and scoring from the guard position. The Bobcats have a solid young core with DJ Augustin, Walker, Gerald Henderson, and Tyrus Thomas. Mix these players with vetran players like Maggette and Matt Carroll and you have a decent starting point. Jordan really needs to address 2 issues in this years draft scoring and a solid post player. Jared Sullinger or Anthony Davis wouldn’t be bad choices for a post and Michael Gilchrist or a Harrison Barnes wouldn’t be bad options to help with the scoring load. Both of these players are versatile and can score the ball several ways. You pair a solid post scorer with a perimeter scorer and the Bobcats can bounce back from a historically bad season.

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