In a game where the Bobcats forced their style of controlled chaos on the defensive end on the way to a 81-78 victory, they also had a standout on the offensive end- Byron Mullens. Mullens scored a career high 33 points on 13-24 from the field and 3-5 from behind the arc. Not only did Mullens shoot the ball very efficiently last night, but he took advantage of his length and did most of his damage around the rim.
Aside from the constant ‘And-1!’ protest yelled by Mullens everytime he thought he was drawing contact on the block and what seemed to be Mullens taking the form of Carlos Boozer, the work he put in down low was impressive and a great sign for fans of this guy. I’ve long been documented of not being a huge Mullens advocate, but last night I was intriguingly wathcing. Hats off to you Byron. Keep it up.
Kemba Walker also had a very encoraging night. He finished with 15 points on 5-15 shooting and 8 assist. Those number were probably the least impressive aspect of his performance last night. To me, last night’s games was the first time I saw real signs of what Rick Bonnell (Charlotte Observer) has been suggesting about Kemba with his passion and leadership drastically increasing under Mike Dunlap. Kemba played like a bulldog on the defensive end, ending with 2 steals, but also caused many more Minnesota turnovers.
The Bobcats defensive performance last night was unlike many that you see in the NBA very often and Kemba anchored the collected chaos caused to the Wolves. Charlotte caused 22 Minnesota turnovers last night. When the Wolves were able to get the ball into the frontcourt the Cats applied a crazed man-to-man defense that included sideline traps, excellent ball line defensive (every player stays below where ball is, relevant to rim) and defensive rotation that caused many bad passes by Minnesota. Watching the pace at which the Bobcats were implementing pressure was amazing, but I had to ask myself how sustainable it is moving forward. One thing is for sure- Dunlap has these players in shape and this summer league roster has bought in. Now we wait and see how the regular roster will adapt to this style.
Charlotte improved to 3-0 during summer league last night and now is assured at least a winning record when Vegas is all done. No, summer league doesn’t mean a whole lot in determining how a team will perform during the actual season because of the fact that most the players on this roster won’t even be in Charlotte come regular season. That being said, something has become very apparent over the last three games- this isn’t your high school/college tenure Charlotte Bobcats team. The expectations are higher, the tempo on the floor is furious and the direction is clear- Rebuild? yes. Success? Or bust.
The Bobcats will face Denver next on Thursday night at 10:30 ET.