As the dark depths of the NBA record books stare Charlotte down directly in the face, the Bobcats have reached what could quite possibly be their last chance to avert being the worst of all-time. Sacramento travels east tonight and the road hasn’t been kind to the Kings this season. Sacramento is 5-26 on the road this season, ahead of only the Bobcats.
The Kings come into tonight ranked only in front of Charlotte for defensive efficiency. The Kings allow 107.1 points/100 possessions while the Bobcats allow 107.6. Needless to say, open looks and high percentage opportunities around the basket should come in mass quantities for both squads in this game. Where the Bobcats will really have their hands full is in trying to slow Sacramento down. The Kings lead the league in the PACE category and use 97.3 possessions/game.
D.J. Augustin will likely be OUT again tonight for the Bobcats, but both Tyrus Thomas and Gana Diop participated at shoot around this morning and should both see the floor tonight. Charlotte will also get Reggie Williams back from his concussion tonight and this should limit Matt Carroll’s minutes.
Jonathan Santiago, from ESPN TrueHoop network’s ‘Cowbell Kingdom’ blog stops by to help us tackle some of the questions leading up to the game.
1- Sacramento leads the league in the PACE category (97.3 possessions/game). How can the Bobcats counter the Kings ability to get out into the open floor?
Jonathan Santiago (Cowbell Kingdom): Take care of the ball and limit turnovers. Head Coach Keith Smart likes to track deflections. If the Kings are disrupting passing lanes, they’re likely forcing turnovers that allow them to get in transition. The Bobcats have a shot at slowing the Kings down if they force Sacramento to beat them in the half court.
Spencer Percy: Definitely limit the turnovers, for starters. Charlotte still has to be aggressive on the offensive glass because of the fact that they’re one of the worst rebounding teams in the league and need all the second chances they can get. The Bobcats will also have to be patient in the half court, run their sets and try their best to get high quality looks around the basket in an attempt to avoid bad jumpers that lead to long, run-out rebounds. If their is a night I’d really like to see the ball entered into the post every time down the floor it’s tonight. Hendo will also need to be extra aggressive going to the rim.
Mathew Lewis: Forget crashing the offensive boards. In addition to limiting turnovers (as Jonathan pointed out), the Bobcats should concentrate on getting back on defense instead of challenging Sacramento for offensive rebounds. Charlotte is a poor rebounding team, so it makes sense to pass on the handful of potential second shot opportunities they would otherwise gain in exchange for getting back on defense and limiting the Kings’ transition buckets.
2- Who would you rather have moving forward with a franchise. Jimmer Fredette or Kemba Walker?
Jonathan: I haven’t gotten a chance to watch much of Kemba this year, but I did like that he spent some time after his pre-draft workout in Sacramento speaking with legendary coach Pete Carril. That shows me that he’s willing to listen and soak up as much wisdom he can in order to become a good player. I think Jimmer is going to succeed too, but I don’t know if that happens in Sacramento. They’ve got a glut of talent at the guard position and Jimmer may wind up the odd man out. At this point, I think it’s more likely that Kemba is a Bobcat longer than Jimmer is a King.
Spencer: Kemba. There are two reasons I say that. Jimmer has been beaten out for the PG position in Sacramento by 2nd round pick Isaiah Thomas and I’m less convinced Fredette will be a PG in this league than I am of Kemba. In Charlotte, it’s likely going to be Kemba’s show moving forward as I’m a believer that Augustin is on his way out of town after this season- he’ll be a restricted FA.
Mathew: The Jimmer. I have an unhealthy love for Jimmer so I’m probably the wrong person to answer this question. I believe both will have productive NBA careers, though in my opinion Kemba faces more hurdles given his size and lack of pure PG skills. Jimmer struggles on the defensive end, but has a knock down jumper and the ability to create his own shot. I like Kemba’s upside, but I’ll almost always side with a player that has a sure fire NBA skill. Jimmer’s ability to shoot the ball is just that.
3- This is the Bobcats last game that they have a realistic shot at winning, so take your pick. Does Charlotte avoid the worst winning percentage of all-time with a win tonight or do the Kings further cement the Bobacts fate of the worst ever?
Jonathan: I think the Kings come away with a win. Like Charlotte, this could be the last game Sacramento wins the rest of the season (their last two games are against the Lakers and Thunder). The Kings are a much more talented team than the Bobcats and that alone should be enough to cement a victory.
Spencer: I consider myself to be an optimistic person and although I know there isn’t anything left to be optimistic about with this team, I’m going with Charlotte. Solely because I don’t want this team to be remembered as the worst. I don’t have any good reason for you that the Bobcats will win tonight other than there is that slight ray of hope.
Mathew: Kings. Despite all of Sacramento’s shortcomings, they simply have much more talent than the Bobcats. Demarcus Cousins could go off for 40 and 20, while the Bobcats will struggle to score points just like every other night. I’m afraid I don’t think this one will even be close.