The season starts Wednesday (for the Bobcats), so what can we expect when the games count? Time to look at some numbers and see if we can make some educated guesses.
Two of the Bobcats most pressing concerns continue to be the perceived downgrades they made this off-season: Point guard and center. I use perceived as a qualifier because until the season is underway and we have tangible proof, it does not seem fair to use such labels. Having said that, all the trade rumors/discussions the Bobcats were linked with this off-season were related to point guards – Jose Calderon and Devin Harris. That does not seem like a vote of confidence in the Bobcats’ existing point guard battalion. And at center, the Bobcats have DeSagana Diop and Kwame Brown (once he gets healthy) as their backups. And Nazr put up good numbers last year but the team struggled when he was on the court. Just a reminder for anyone who had forgotten – and I have already looked at both of these concerns in great depth, so I will provide links and move on.
Reasons for Concern – Swapping Nazr Mohammed for Tyson Chandler and the defensive effects (not good).
Reasons for Concern part 2 – Looking at D.J. Augustin and Shaun Livingston replacing Raymond Felton – hmm, maybe?
Enough negative (at least for now) – how about something inspiring? Well, there’s this: Last season, the Bobcats entered the year with a huge question mark about depth at the 4 – and now it is their strongest position, with Boris Diaw the starter and Tyrus Thomas coming off the bench. The problem with that is the “coming off the bench” part – Tyrus played extremely well after he joined the Bobcats, posting a PER of 17.3 in Charlotte, which was good for the 3rd best mark on the team (behind Nazr and Gerald) – so it would make sense for the Bobcats to get him more minutes. At the expense of Nazr. Yes, Nazr led the team in PER – but the team also had horrible defensive efficiency marks with him on the court. Not so with Tryus – the team was at 101.0 with him flying around. As discussed the in “Reasons for Concern” posts linked above, the Cats did well with Tyrus and Boris playing beside each other. How about a “Psycho Package”, as advocated by “Ball Don’t Lie”?
I think the Bobcats should embrace their newfound identity as a haven for the disturbed. It’s like the old saying goes: If you’re going to be a bear, be a grizzly. And if you’re going to stock your roster with unhinged talent that can play multiple positions, you might as well give them a chance to play together. Let your freak flag fly, Charlotte. Throw the Psycho Package out there and let God sort ’em out.
–BDL’s 2010-11 Season Preview: Charlotte Bobcats
Boris Diaw, Tyrus Thomas, Gerald Wallace, Stephen Jackson, and…Derrick Brown? Shaun Livingston? Even Eduardo Najera, as Dwyer suggests in his preview? With Boris and Stephen on the court, the Bobcats have less of a need for a point guard (not saying to start this group – but in isolated minutes) and just think about the potential defensive havoc they could cause. The only numbers I have for this group (as it is still theoretical): 6-8, 6-10, 6-7, 6-8, 6-7. Those would be the heights of the players in the psycho package. Just a fun wrinkle to consider.
Another set of numbers to consider – very straight forward: 28-23 and 16-15. The Bobcats went 28-23 in the games Tyson Chandler played in last year (regular season) and 16-15 in the games he did not. Solid with him, respectable without. Respectable – with a short-handed roster. With a full season of Tyrus Thomas and Stephen Jackson around, the Bobcats have a very respectable foursome in Gerald, Ty, Jax, and Diaw (I know most are frustrated with Diaw – as am I – but he plays good defense, creates looks for teammates, and can score effectively when the mood strikes). That may be enough to get back to the playoffs, especially with D.J. seemingly rediscovering his shot this pre-season. If D.J. can be a solid care-taker and make open jumpers, Diaw and Jackson can create offense for teammates. No offense to Raymond, but prior to last season, most fans were ready for a change. Maybe Ray keeps up with the improved shooting – or maybe he reverts after a fluke year in New York. The Cats were unwilling to pony up the cash it would take to make that gamble. We’ll see if that bet pays off soon enough.