Tonight the Bobcats will get back D.J. Augustin from his toe injury and absence since Jan. 22nd, but will it be enough to break this team’s 15-game losing streak? Charlotte begins their 3-game road trip tonight in Minnesota and our Queen City Hoops panel previews it for you, 3-on-3 style.
1- YOU’RE THE COACH: As a starter, Kemba Walker was averaging 35.6 MPG, 14.9 PPG, 4.3 APG and shooting 35% from the field. With D.J. Augustin returning as the starting PG tonight, this will likely send Kemba back to a role off the Bobcats bench with Reggie Williams starting at SG. What kind of minutes do you give Kemba tonight and do you play him only at PG or experiment with him and Augustin on the floor at the same time as Silas already has earlier in the season?
Brett Hainline: If I’m the coach, Kemba is still getting 30 minutes…and so is DJ. Which means I’m playing them together a good chunk of the game. Here’s why – this team is low on talent and scoring – they’re among the best players on the team and can both score (though Kemba does need to improve his shot selection), so I take my chances, since this team has shown it is no defensive juggernaut.
Mathew Lewis: 30+. Kemba is the most explosive, and possibly most effective Bobcat on the roster (according to www.hoopdata.com, he ranks second in Adjusted PER at 16.8, which accounts for the fact that he can create his own shot). He needs to be on the floor. I’m sure Coach Silas will experiment with a few different combinations tonight, some which will undoubtedly feature both Kemba and D.J. in the backcourt together.
Bryan Wendland: If I’m a Herm Edwards type who “plays to win the game,” then I have to figure out a way to get Kemba and Augustin on the floor at the same time. Offensively they’re the Bobcats most explosive players. If I’m looking out for the long term development of Kemba as a point guard then I’m going to play him primarily as Augustin’s backup. Either way, the rookie has to play 25+ minutes.
2- FACT or FICTION: As a starter, (5 games) per 48 minutes, Bismack Biyombo has averaged some impressive rebounding numbers- 13.6 RPG (per 48 min). Biyombo will see 25+ minutes of action tonight, grab 10+ rebounds and hold Kevin Love to under 15 rebounds because of his physicality under the basket.
Brett Hainline: FICTION. I see Kevin Love getting Bismack into foul trouble – he’s not the athlete Bismack is, so he has learned how to create space and get defenders in the air to score. His strength and experience send Bismack to the bench too early and often for fans.
Mathew Lewis: FICTION. I think he will relish the challenge, but Kevin Love is simply too skilled in comparison to Biyobo at this point in their respective careers. I see Bismack logging the minutes, but coming up short in his attempt to limit Love’s effectiveness.
Bryan Wendland: FICTION. Kevin Love is too much of a rebounding mad man to be held down by anyone Charlotte can throw at him. I think Biyombo gets those minutes, though, and turns in a solid 10 rebound performance.
3- PICK IT- BOBCATS or TIMBERWOLVES: The return of D.J. Augustin, which accounts for 13.6 points and 6.6 assists per game, will push the Bobcats over the top and finally end a franchise worst 15-game losing streak.
Brett Hainline: BOBCATS. With Corey Maggette, Reggie Williams, and D.J. Augustin all back, the team is closer to full strength than at any point since the first week of the season. They were competitive back in those long ago times and return to that glimmer of promise tonight.
Mathew Lewis: TIMBERWOLVES. If the Bobcats were at home I would be more apt to give them the nod, but I see the T-Wolves taking care of business tonight at the Target Center. The addition of D.J. Augustin to the lineup will certainly give them a puncher’s chance, however, and I look forward to seeing what kind of impact he has on the team’s energy and competitiveness.
Bryan Wendland: TIMBERWOLVES. If Corey Maggette can give the Bobcats another 20 plus point performance, DJ Augustin’s return could very well push the ‘Cats back into the win column. Ricky Rubio is a tough guy to guard for anyone, though, so don’t be surprised if the Spanish rookie takes advantage of Augustin’s rustiness and has a monster game on offense.
- Charlotte has won 5 straight games against Minnesota coming into tonight. The Timberwolves last victory over the Bobcats came March 14, 2009.
- Minnesota comes into tonight’s game losers of 4 straight.
- Luke Ridnour (personal reasons) is questionable tonight for Minnesota.
- The Bobcats are +10.5 dogs according to Vegas tonight.