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Boris Diaw: What’s left to expect

Boris Diaw will enter the final year of his contact in Charlotte this upcoming season, one that the team will owe him roughly $9 million due to a player option year. Good news is that Diaw will most likely play very hard considering he will be seeking a new contract after the season, bad news is that the team will be spending $9 million on a player who has been streaky on the court and has never shown a great desire to keep his body in great condition while in Charlotte. Many rumors swirled last season about the Bobcats shopping Diaw at the trade deadline. Chances are that those rumors were true, but no fish were going to bite at the Diaw bait that didn’t have the best reputation of work ethic and also carried a $9 million player option to be picked up this season.

The past two seasons in Charlotte have been nearly statistically identical for Diaw. Diaw started all 164 for Charlotte in the past two seasons, so his durability has been impressive. He’s averaged 11.3 PPG in both seasons, 4.1 APG in 10-11 (4.0 APG in 09-10) and 5.1 RPG in 10-11 (5.2 RPG in 09-10). With basically no difference in 09-10/10-11 seasons statistically, you have to take a look back to Diaw’s first season with Charlotte when he came over via trade from Phoenix. In 08-09 Diaw started and played 58 games with the Bobcats where he averaged 37.6 MPG, 15.1 PPG, 5.9 RPG and 4.9 APG. All career highs for Diaw while in Charlotte.

So why such a statistical difference for Diaw in his past two seasons opposed to his first in Charlotte? Conditioning. When Diaw arrived in Charlotte he weighed in at about 220 lbs. Diaw has never been a very imposing athlete, but at 220 lbs. he could do many more things with his athleticism than he can do now at 240 lbs. Film shows that the physique of Diaw 3-4 years ago is very different than it has been the past few seasons in Charlotte.

VIDEO: Diaw in shape

VIDEO: You’re crafty, but what was that??? (out of shape)

 Boris has always been one of the more crafty/creative players in the NBA and much of that has always helped make up for his lack of true athleticism, but imagine what Diaw could be today if he wouldn’t have stopped watching his weight and continued to stay in shape. I’m not the one to say that Diaw ever had great conditioning habits, but the past two seasons have shown the lack of these habits even more through the observer’s eye. Diaw has noticeably gained weight in the past two seasons opposed to any other point in time in his NBA career.

Diaw was at one time in his career an excellent defender. Since in Charlotte, Diaw has been mediocre at best on defense. He struggles to defend on the perimeter, and always has because of a slow first step and the fact that he’s not very quick moving laterally. Diaw has never been an exceptional rebounder, but as seen earlier with the statistical comparison of his seasons in Charlotte, he was worth a full rebound more per game in his first season in Charlotte than his past two. Diaw has also never had explosive elevation, but the second video above shows what he was capable of when in better condition. He’s always been a decent outside shooter, but maybe a better way to say it would be that he’s simply streaky. At Diaw’s height, though, that’s all he would really ever need to be. Just for evidence sake, I will give you another 08-09 season supporting stat. Diaw was 41.9% from behind the arc in 08-09, his best while in Charlotte. 34.5% last season seconds that.

Boris Diaw had the potential to become a great player in this league and was thought by many (i.e. Bill Walton) to have helped change the culture in the Phoenix organization during the mid 2000’s, but unfortunately those days seem to be long gone. Diaw is only 29 years old so clearly still has life left in his career, but without a noticeable change in work ethic next season it will be his last in Charlotte. Diaw will most likely see a decline in playing time this upcoming season with Tyrus Thomas back fully healthy and the fact that Thomas has been proclaimed a large part of Charlotte’s future with his 5-year contract. Diaw could very well start again at the PF position, but will split time with Thomas, Cunningham and possibly even DJ White. I expect Diaw’s MPG to dip under 30 MPG for the first time since arriving in Charlotte. How in shape and ready to play he arrives when/if the season does finally start is any one’s guess, but in my eyes the patience with him should be over. One more season.