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D.J. Augustin: What lies ahead

D.J. Augustin entered the Charlotte Bobcats organization in 2008 as the 9th overall pick out of Texas. He immediatelysaw playing time in Charlotte and has played a big role in the organization since he arrived, but now with the arrival of Kemba Walker Augustin’s role is certain to see some change.

In Augustin’s rookie season, he immediately saw playing time behind and along side of Raymond Felton. Augustin averaged 26.5 MPG, 11.8 PPG and 3.5 APG his rookie season. Very impressive numbers for a rookie, especially one playing under former Head Coach Larry Brown, who has a reputation for handcuffing his players and expecting them to “play the right way.” Augustin came off the bench for Felton some in his first two seasons as a PG, but he also played alongside of Felton as a combo guard. Augustin has always been an excellent shooter from behind the arc and he was able to showcase that ability in his first two seasons in Charlotte since he didn’t have to take on the starting PG duties. In 08-09 Augustin attempted 3.4 3FG/game and made an impressive 44% of the 3FG. For a player that had been drafted purely as a PG, he had found a new role in Charlotte as a deadly outside shooter and most of his shots were coming in a combo guard type of role, off the basketball.

In 09-10 Augustin saw a drop in his minutes, only averaging 18.4 MPG. Some of this can be accredited to the fact that Charlotte had acquired Ronald Murray and some of it was due to the fact that Brown was becoming increasingly frustrated withAugustin’s lack of true PG ability. To Augustin’s credit, he was asked to play a lot off the ball his rookie season and probably wasn’t able to mature as a true PG as quickly as Brown would have liked. Eventually, towards the end of the 09-10 season season as Charlotte was making a playoff push, Augustin was used again as more of a shooting guard and he flourished. In the month of March Augustin made 44.4% 3FG and in April he made an amazing 53.8% 3FG. Augustin was a huge piece to the Charlotte scoring attack that eventually propelled them into the post-season for the first time in franchise history.

Last season (2010-11) Augustin was moved over into the starting PG role as Raymond Felton was lost before the season due to free agency. He averaged 33.6 MPG, 14.4 PPG and 6.1 APG. These numbers don’t look bad at all for a player that was starting at PG for the first time in his career, but it was easy to sense by watching Augustin on the court that something was different about his game. On 3FG, where Augustin had thrived in his first two seasons in the league, he took 4.1 3PG/game and made 33.3% of his attempts. This was a drastic decrease in 3FG%, but really the explanation is simple. Augustin was operating with the ball in his hands a ton more as the starting PG and now expected to take on the role of a distributor, especially under Larry Brown. Augustin looked awkward at times and almost like he didn’t know when he was supposed to shoot or not. Running an offense that was ranking at the bottom of the league in most statistical categories had to be tough for a guy who had been a natural scorer with the ball in his hands since his college days at Texas.

Going into this upcoming season (if there is one) Augustin may be taking on a similar role to his first two seasons in Charlotte as a combo guard. Now, Kemba Walker is in many ways facing the same transition as Augustin did coming out of college; trying to figure out how to become an NBA PG, from being a scoring, ‘do it all yourself’ guard at UConn. With the offensive philosophy that Head Coach Paul Silas preachesyou have to believe that he will allow both Augustin and Walker to handle the ball and play off the ball looking for shots. Point being, don’t be surprised to see Augustin and Walker in the game at the same time quite a bit this season attempting to complement each other offensively, individually require more defensive attention and ultimately open up the court for Charlotte. Of course this could be a defensive liability going with two very small guards at the same time, but also expect Silas to run some 2-3 zone next year to alleviatethe height issue. It could be somewhat similar to what Golden State has done with Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis.

In reality, I have no idea what Silas has in store for Augustin now that Walker has arrived, but theoretically speaking, I believe it’s going to look something like what I have described above. Augustin will be moved back off the basketball a little bit in an effort to re-kindle some of the scoring magic he provided his first two seasons in Charlotte.