Bobcats at the Halfway Mark, Part 2 – The Players
Posted by Sup on January 30, 2010
Hollinger PER 2008-9: 13.80
Hollinger PER 2009-10: 15.54
[picapp align=”center” wrap=”false” link=”term=Raymond+Felton&iid=7391400″ src=”b/9/5/e/Charlotte_Bobcats_guard_6de0.JPG?adImageId=9621795&imageId=7391400″ width=”234″ height=”335″ /]
Object lesson number one in a player becoming more productive by doing less. Felton is taking the fewest shots per game in his career, but is hitting career highs in shooting percentage, three point percentage, and steals, and averaging his fewest turnovers since his rookie year. He is playing clutch, tough defense on the perimeter, and making big time shots at the end of games. No game winners, but he is finishing at the basket to extend leads at the end. Of course, we may be seeing Ray’s ceiling, and he is in a contract year (though last year he was too, and his numbers were not anywhere close to where they are now).
Felton was the player most people thought would take the most pressure from Larry Brown, as the old North Carolina point guard is traditionally hard on his lead guards. Instead of shrinking in the face of criticism, Felton has taken it to heart and worked on his game. He has also benefited from not having to be the only primary ballhandler, with Stephen Jackson and Gerald Wallace often bringing the ball upcourt. He also hasn’t had to regularly hoist up last second threes and long twos at the end of the shot clock . He isn’t going to the line as often though, and on a per minute basis, his turnovers are actually up. It’s a teamwide problem, and his sometimes loose ways with the ball aren’t helping.
On balance, Felton has become a solid asset for the Bobcats. He is certainly making it interesting when it comes to re-signing him at the end of the year. The club clearly wanted more time to make the decision and to see if D.J. Augustin was ready and able to step in if the situation called for it. At this moment, it does not appear to be the case.
Hollinger PER 2008-9: 14.95
Hollinger PER 2009-10: 9.43
[picapp align=”center” wrap=”false” link=”term=Charlotte+Bobcats&iid=4674309″ src=”8/6/8/1/7d55.JPG?adImageId=9623199&imageId=4674309″ width=”234″ height=”351″ /]Where most everything is up for Felton, just about everything is down for Augustin. His confidence seemed to disappear almost entirely during a stretch in late November through December, and he even posted his first healthy DNP-CDs on December 4 and 5. He had never had this happen in high school or college. When Brown was asked about Augustin’s struggles at the time, he didn’t have an answer; he apparently was as baffled as anyone at the regression.
And there is no doubt he has regressed across the board. His field goal percentage has dipped below well .400. He’s gone from a near .900 free throw shooter to just below .750, and as a result, his minutes have dropped to 17 per game, down a full 9 minutes a game. The addition of Flip Murray has impacted him as much as anything, as Murray is eating up minutes at both the 1 and the 2. But it’s clear that the team would benefit from having another spot up shooter capable of running the point and hitting 3s.
Onr problem has been the matchups on some occasions have not been in Augustin’s favor. Games against guards like Derrick Rose (who torched him in Charlotte) and Tyreke Evans are not favorable for a 5′ 10″ guard. Still, the drop in his production has been puzzling. One possible explanation, put forth by the Bobcats TV play by play voice Steve Martin, is that the very criticism that propelled Felton upward has had the opposite effect on Augustin, and he is doubting what he is supposed to do on the court. He has had a couple of more solid games in recent times: he nearly single handedly brought the ‘Cats back against the Magic with 22 points and 5-9 from three point range. Still, this was followed by 5 points at Atlanta, and zero at Phoenix.
Whatever the reason, Augustin no longer looks like the sure thing future of the Bobcats’ backcourt. Let’s hope he can turn it around.
Hollinger PER 2008-9: 10.68
Hollinger PER 2009-10: 18.03
Law has been little but practice fodder since coming over in the Jackson trade. The few minutes he has played, he hasn’t shown anything that would earn him more playing time. Terribly missed layups and turnovers have pretty much been the order of the day, and nothing says it’s going to be any different. This is one of those cases where Hollinger’s PER doesn’t really tell the story, because of the small number of minutes Law actually plays.
Hollinger PER 2008-9: 16.02
Hollinger PER 2009-10: 15.81
[picapp align=”center” wrap=”false” link=”term=Stephen+Jackson&iid=7506215″ src=”c/a/3/a/Charlotte_Bobcats_Stephen_bbf0.JPG?adImageId=9642553&imageId=7506215″ width=”234″ height=”154″ /] The first time I went to see the Bobcats this season, my wife and I went to the Toronto Raptors game on November 25th. I regularly used the SportCenter staple for Dirk Nowitzki whenever Stephen Jackson touched the ball: “I’m ready to shoot, Jack!” And shoot he did: eighteen times to be exact, making seven and finishing with 23 points. What I didn’t pay as much attention to was his 6 assists that same night. And that, along with the attitude change, the willingness to take the clutch shot, and self stated obliviousness to pressure made him the lynchpin in the turnaround from a team that looked headed to the lottery for the 6th time in its existence to one fighting for playoff position for the first time this late into a season.
Now that I have presented myself as a slobbering fanboy for Jackson, let’s talk about his actual faults. I know I am not the only person who cringes when he launches that transition 3 pointer right after a Bobcats steal. It’s a least me and Larry Brown. When Jackson doesn’t have his head right, the ball can stop with him: he’s going to score on his man, or nobody’s going to score. And his 3+ turnovers a game aren’t doing this already ball security-challenged team any favors. Further, he’s not a shooter, but a scorer. His season scoring average is a bit scary, though in January he has been shooting a much more respectable .482. It’s no wonder the team went from 5-9 in December (Jackson shot .382) to 10-4 in January.
I have been warned by a Warriors fan to be careful about liking this guy. He talks about how much he loves the team, these guys, all of that. But if things don’t work out the way he likes, he could be a time bomb. And he is 31 with a lot of career minutes under his belt. All that aside, he was brought here to score and provide vocal, tough leadership. He has done exactly that.
Hollinger PER 2008-9: 14.73
Hollinger PER 2009-10: 11.52
[picapp align=”center” wrap=”false” link=”term=charlotte+bobcats&iid=7391386″ src=”8/c/d/9/Charlotte_Bobcats_guard_f420.JPG?adImageId=9644490&imageId=7391386″ width=”234″ height=”340″ /]Looking for a deft passer, able to dissect defenses and drop sweet dimes? Flip ain’t your guy. Looking for a new Microwave, heating up quick and burning the other team repeatedly on bullish drives to the hoop? Well, closer but not quite. What Murray has provided is occasional bouts of instant offense off the bench, the occasional important 3 pointer, and minutes at both the point and the 2. He, like Jackson, was a sub .400 shooter in December, but heated up in the month of January, getting up to .440.
As I noted before, he has been able to provide some physical defense against bigger points when Augustin and Felton were either in foul trouble or ineffective, and has played well in this limited, 20 minuter per night role. I would worry if Jackson went down for an extended period, but this is perfect for him right now.
Hollinger PER 2009-10: 11.52
There really isn’t much to say about Henderson at this point. He doesn’t get much time at all, and the time he has played, he has shown some springy jumping ability, nothing resembling an outside stroke, and a lot of work to do. He is sitting behind a deep rotation at the wings, so there is little that he can do to get more time right now. His future is still ahead of him as a potential defensive stopper.
Hollinger PER 2008-9: 18.64
Hollinger PER 2009-10: 18.62
[picapp align=”center” wrap=”false” link=”term=charlotte+bobcats&iid=7391397″ src=”3/5/b/9/Charlotte_Bobcats_forward_f6f4.JPG?adImageId=9652210&imageId=7391397″ width=”234″ height=”320″ /]
2010 All-Star Game Slam Dunk participant. 2010 All-Star reserve. Seventh in the league in rebounding. Wallace has been a revelation for the rest of the NBA, but he’s a secret that has been hidden too long in the relative backwater that has been Bobcats basketball. He started out the season as the victim of double teams in the post as he tried to carry the entire offense on his back. His modest offensive talents don’t lend themselves to such a task, and he was shooting 31 percent through the first 10 games. He told the team he had lost confidence in his shot, but he would make up for it in rebounding and defense. And did he ever.
He isn’t approaching the numbers of the fabled 2005-6 season when he became only the second player to average two steals and two blocks per game. But he did begin to absolutely dominate the defensive boards. He is #3 in defensive rebounding, averaging more on that end of the floor than noted big men Nene, Amar’e Stoudamire, and Andrew Bynum are averaging in total. He is shooting a career best from three point range. He also has a career high in free throw attempts, needing 120 more to mach last season’s career high. He is meshing with Stephen Jackson to become a fearsome perimeter defensive duo. He seems to have mastered the LeBron James move of hunting down guys on the break and blocking the layup (ask O.J. Mayo about that). And the dunks. Oh, the dunks.
One problem: he is also averaging 42 minutes a game, almost 5 minutes more than last season, which was his career high. He still turns the ball over at a less than stellar rate. Passing is not his thing (this season is the second consecutive in which his assist average has declined) though he is not unwilling. And most concerning to a long time observer, he is logging minutes at power forward when the Bobcats go small. This is usually what ends up with him getting his face broken, or lung punctured, and costs him 10-15 games a season.
I won’t complain. At least not until that injury happens. Instead, I will just congratulate Gerald Wallace on being an All Star.
Hollinger PER 2008-9: 8.51
Hollinger PER 2009-10: 9.78
Graham is playing the role he is best suited for: energy off the bench for spot minutes at the 2,3, and 4. He makes shots now and again, though you wonder why he feels the need to hoist up threes every once and a while, and he plays decent position defense. He’s a 12th man, and does that job adequately. We really hope that he never has to play big minutes for an extended period.
Hollinger PER 2008-9: 14.50
Hollinger PER 2009-10: 11.24
[picapp align=”center” wrap=”false” link=”term=Boris+Diaw&iid=7391403″ src=”c/a/e/2/New_York_Knicks_5bb9.JPG?adImageId=9679126&imageId=7391403″ width=”234″ height=”424″ /]Boris Diaw has confounded NBA watchers for years. He seems to have the total skill package, but none of the drive. This season, he has infuriated Bobcats fans with what looks like lackadaisical play and an inablity to adjust to the arrival of Stephen Jackson. I say yes, there was the Jackson issue. The ball was no longer running exclusively through Diaw, so he was not making the same kinds of inspired (and sometimes crazy) passes that last season were a staple of his game. He then struggled to carve out a role on a team that needs him to be more of a rebounder than facilitator. I also think the ankle injury he suffered over the summer while playing for the French national team took much longer to get right than he or the team had let on. The evidence is that his game collapsed in the first half of the season, shooting worse from the field, from the line, rebounding less, and fewer assists than last season.
He still isn’t fully comfortable. But there have been some glimmers of hope; his best game of the season came at home against the Spurs when he racked up 26 points, 11 rebounds, and 2 blocks against Tim Duncan, and the Bobcats crushed the Spurs 92-76. He has been important when the Bobcats go small, playing the pivot and working in his passing game again. Still, his performance overall this season has been a disappointment, and there has been talk that the team will try to move him in order to get a more orthodox power forward in place. This would certainly creat a chemistry issue on a team that is playing very well, but long term, it may be the best thing for Diaw and the Bobcats.
Hollinger PER 2009-10: 13.98
[picapp align=”center” wrap=”false” link=”term=Derrick+Brown&iid=4364747″ src=”2/c/f/7/Pittsburgh_Panthers_v_234e.jpg?adImageId=9679962&imageId=4364747″ width=”234″ height=”323″ /]Derrick Brown shows flashes of being a steal in the second round. Though he is undersized, he has filled in as Diaw’s back up at power forward and Wallace’s at the 3. He has shown a live body and plenty of hops in the few minutes he plays, but is still capable of making rookie mistakes and getting the quick hook (witness last night at Golden State; Brown missed a defensive assignment resulting in a layup about a minute after he entered the game, and was yanked immediately for Graham). He just isn’t getting consistent minutes right now, and with the players ahead of him, that isn’t surprising. We’ll wait and see if he is the steal he looks like he just might be.
Hollinger PER 2008-9: 13.44
Hollinger PER 2009-10: 9.73
[picapp align=”center” wrap=”false” link=”term=Tyson+Chandler&iid=7391347″ src=”b/3/6/7/Charlotte_Bobcats_Tyson_0e2a.JPG?adImageId=9680091&imageId=7391347″ width=”234″ height=”375″ /]Tyson Chandler is the single biggest disappointment of the Bobcats’ season. Considering expectations were low for him coming in to the year, that’s saying something. Chandler is here for two reasons: Brown thought that Okafor wasn’t big enough to handle banging around with Dwight Howard and not nimble enough to guard outside of the paint, and his contract was too big in the long term for a team the owner was desperate to sell. Enter Chandler, he of the $11 million salary and two serious ankle surgeries. He didn’t play in the preseason, and looked awful when he did play in the regular season. Out of shape, a step slow, and foul prone, his play was the main reason Nazr Mohammed was able to earn minutes. Eventually, Mohammed supplanted Chandler as the starter when it was revealed Chandler had a stress reaction in his foot. He has been out 16 consecutive games as of this writing, with no official timetable to his return.
For all the bashing I just put up there, Chandler does provide something that none of the other centers do when healthy: a solid defensive presence that deters drives to the basket, and an active leaper who can convert on alley oops and putbacks in the post. However, his inability to move his feet resulted in a lot of fouls, and many times he was stuck with two fouls 5 or 6 minutes into the game, banishing him to the bench for the rest of the quarter, and getting the quick hook in the second period when he picked up his third.
The trade for Chandler was before the acquisition of Jackson, and there was, shall we say, little enthusiasm about it. Chandler has done exactly nothing to earn any either. He may be back this week, but he will have a long way to go to win over any Bobcats fans to his side of the story.
Hollinger PER 2008-9: 7.71
Hollinger PER 2009-10: 21.02
[picapp align=”center” wrap=”false” link=”term=Nazr+Mohammed&iid=373866″ src=”0370/0ff8db73-8848-43f5-bb7f-af76bd40a17a.jpg?adImageId=9681960&imageId=373866″ width=”234″ height=”351″ /]It is not a stretch to say that Nazr Mohammed resurrected his basketball career this season. Last year, he was out of shape, woeful on the offensive end, and only barely adequate as a defender. He was taking up space on the bench and room in the salary cap. He spent the summer getting into outstanding shape, and has made the most of Chandler’s absence by putting up solid numbers in his big man rotation with Gana Diop and Diaw swinging down in smallball. Where last season he was an absolute liability on offense, he has found the range with his midrange jumper and on the block, leading to opening quarters when the Bobcats can go to him on offense on multiple trips and not be concerned.
Mohammed is still no shot blocker, and at 32 it’s too late to expect him to morph into a dominant defensive presence. But he has provided an unexpected post presence on the offensive end and given them a lift that is more than welcome. He can’t give this kind of effort over an entire game though, and his recent numbers reflect him being warn down by the heavy lifting. Hopefully they can keep him fresh enough to be an asset if the playoffs become a reality.
Hollinger PER 2008-9: 9.71
Hollinger PER 2009-10: 8.30
[picapp align=”center” wrap=”false” link=”term=DeSagana+Diop&iid=4298104″ src=”b/e/1/4/PicImg_Texas_News_0a31.JPG?adImageId=9682935&imageId=4298104″ width=”234″ height=”212″ /]Gana Diop is big, the biggest player the Bobcats have on the roster. He’s an adequate post defender, and a horrible offensive player. But what we did not expect was for him to play a pivotal role in any games this season. Chandler’s foot injury forced him into the rotation, and occasionally he has made an offensive play or two to keep a run going. Primarily though, he is relegated to the bench because he struggles to simply catch the ball most of the time. You have to give him credit for staying in shape and ready to come in and give the team 10 minutes at center, and go back to the bench without complaining. You could do worse for your 11th or 12th man. You certainly could pay him less, though.
Your thoughts? Am I being to lenient to anyone? Too harsh?