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Boris Diaw's Fade Out

Since Stephen Jackson joined the Bobcats, Boris Diaw's role has be in flux – one point forward has given way to another (I know Jax plays the 2 for the Bobcats, but could easily pass for a small forward). With the way Boris has become increasingly invisible on the court, should I make a joke about the French and their proclivity towards acquiescence? Because that appears to be Diaw has done: Given up. Boris has 9 single digit point outings in the 15 games since Jackson came to the Queen City, just 2 games with more than 5 rebounds, and 11 games with 2 or fewer assists. Some lowlights:

From Rufus on Fire, regarding Boris work against New York this week: “Through three quarters, it appeared Boris Diaw was en route to hitting rock bottom. He had 4 fouls, 0 points, and 0 rebounds in a little more than 7 minutes… it was a horror show.”

Last night against Indiana, Boris had 59 opportunities to grab a rebound – 33 offensive chances, 26 defensive – and he managed ZERO.

It has not been a season long slump for Boris, though – some people may assume that Boris has dogged it all year, but in the early season, Diaw was playing similarly to how he did last year in Charlotte. His numbers did not drop until this most recent trade. To show it, a quick table – note: The possessions used is field goal attempts + 0.4 * free throw attempts + assists + turnovers divided by team possessions. So, this adds up to over 100 because assists and field goals overlap – I just wanted to give a general involvement number and this works well.

Boris During… Points/40 Rebounds/40 Assits/40 Possessions
08-09 in CLT 16.0 6.3 5.2 30.5
09-10 Prior to Jax 14.0 6.3 5.5 30.1
09-10 With Jax 11.9 4.1 2.3 19.6
09-10 With Jax in CLT,
but off-court
20.2 7.0 3.5 26.9

Now, with the switch from Raja Bell to Stephen Jackson, someone was going to lose touches. Raja used possessions at a rate of 25 in CLT – Jax is at 33.3: Those 8.3 possessions came from somewhere and in this case it has been Boris (and Raymond Felton to a lesser extent – he has dropped nearly 10 points on his usage pre/post Jax – but his points and assists are nearly identical – he is shooting better and turning the ball over less with the more focused role). There is a degree of duplication between Jackson and Diaw in that they are both players who create from unorthodox positions – but that requires the ball in their hands. With Ray running the point and Gerald needing the ball to create his frequent trips to the line, there are only so many bounces in the ball on a given possession. Diaw has taken the decreased facilitatory role hard, it would appear as his effort on the glass has taken a hit – Gerald Wallace has been able to cover for that for the most part – but I do not think it is a coincidence that the Bobcats defense has been worse with Boris on the court than off it this year – 100.5 with him on, 94.8 with him off.

The solution: I do not know that the Bobcats have one – perhaps playing Boris with the second unit and giving him that primary distributor role back…but the Bobcats do not have a power forward to move into the starting lineup. Gerald can play spot minutes there during the course of the game, but the Bobcats do not need him lining up against Josh Smith or Pau Gasol at tipoff. Derrick Brown is in a similar position – not quite big enough to be the starter at the spot, but available to play there on occasion. Larry Brown has mentioned giving Tyson Chandler minutes there, but he is not going to move Nazr into the starting 5 to do it. So, what then?

I do not know: But it is something the Bobcats and Larry Brown need to figure out, because last season and early this year, Boris Diaw provided the Bobcats a versatile and potent offensive player. With Stephen Jackson's addition, Diaw has gone back to drifting through games, as he did in Phoenix, driving Suns fans nuts. And now it is our turn.

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