Strengths: Hendo’s biggest strength continues to be his ability to create his own shot — especially his own jump shot. The majority of his shot attempts continue to be from ‘mid-range’ — this season Hendo attempted 47.9% of his shots from 10-20 feet. Traditionally, he’s been great at coming off curls in offensive sets, but teams have keyed in on this strength over the years and it’s been more difficult for Hendo to come off screens and make clean catches with space — the adjustment has come with Hendo having to improve in ISO situations. 54.2% of Hendo’s FGM were assisted on this season while 45.8% came off ISO, or unassisted situations — so it’s fairly clear that he can score coming off screens (catch-and-shoot situations) and in ISO situations, having to find his own shot.
Henderson figured out something else this season that is vital to his scoring ability moving forward — getting to the foul line. He averaged 4.6 FTA/game this season, a +0.9/game improvement from last season — averaging 82.4% from the stripe this season as well, which is a +6.4% improvement from last season. 33.7% of Hendo’s points this season came from ‘Mid-Range’, while 24.5% came from the free throw line. The charity stripe is the most efficient place to score from on the floor (uncontested shots), so this is quite encouraging.
Henderson is a talented offensive player and can score in many different ways inside the arc — improving from 3 (33% 3FG this season). Defensively, he’s also an above average player — can keep ball handlers in front of him, is consistently in the correct position on the floor and can make defensive plays around the rim. Defense is going to have to continually be a priority for Hendo as it will give the Bobcats more flexibility moving forward, especially if they decide to favor more small ball.
Weaknesses: The glaring offensive weakness is the outside shooting, but it did improve drastically this season. It’s still quite clear that Hendo is uncomfortable taking the 3, but he at least faced the fact that the shot had to be added to his offensive toolbox. He took an average of 1.5 3PA/game (56 more 3PA than ’11-’12) this season, shot 33% from behind the arc and 97% of his 3PM were assisted on — so yeah, Hendo’s not a threat to hurt any defender with the 3 on an ISO set. He’s not there yet, but this season was a huge step in the right direction for Henderson’s improving outside shot.
Ball handling has always been somewhat of an issue — Hendo is good in catch-and-face situations where he can use the power dribble/use his body to get to the rim, but he’s weak at breaking down defenders with the dribble on an island. At 6’5 and a natural SG, Hendo needs to continue to develop his ball handling + come up with ways to break down defenders with the dribble — this will only make him more dangerous offensively and increase the level of attention team defenses must put on him.
Reasons for Optimism: We saw improvement in a lot of areas this season, but the overall numbers don’t jump off the page at you compared to ’11-’12. The biggest reason to have hope for Hendo moving forward is focusing on his numbers after the all-star break and believing this is the caliber of player he’s capable of being, consistently — 30 games, 35.9 MPG, 46.2% FG, 18.9 PPG, 4 RPG, 3.4 APG.
Reasons for Pessimism: I think it goes without saying that the biggest reason for pessimism coming up is considering Hendo could very well end up with a new team this summer. He’s due a $4.3 million qualifying offer from the Bobcats, but will likely get a better offer than that on the open market. The question will be how much the Bobcats will be willing to stretch in order to match. I’ve heard many put Hendo into the same category as DeMar Derozan, who just signed a contract extension worth $9.5 million/year last summer — I don’t think that Hendo is getting that kind of money, but with his performance towards the end of the season it’s definitely fair to assume that there’s a team out there that’s willing to bid for the right to overpay Henderson. The Bobcats would be smart to cap their bidding war number at about $6.5-7 million, annually.
Although most eyes are on the surprisingly entertaining 1st round of the NBA playoffs, the Bobcats front office is busy beginning to select the potential coaching candidates that they will interview in the coming weeks. The four names that you’ve heard the most about so far — Nate Tibbetts, Kelvin Sampson, Elston Turner & Alvin Gentry.
Charlotte Bobcats have asked for permission to interview Rockets assistantKelvin Sampson, source said. Sampson, an NC native, very ready.
Kelvin Sampson has a good reputation throughout the league with coaches and players, although most average basketball fans associate his name with the ugly way he was dismissed from Indiana University for recruiting violations in 2008. Since then, Sampson has been on three different NBA coaching staffs — San Antonio, Milwaukee and Houston. Sampson would seem to be the choice if Charlotte is aiming to land a players coach, but considering the youth with this bunch it’s likely going to be a mixture of developmental/meshing with the players personalities.
Alvin Gentry was fired mid-season by the Phoenix Suns and is now showing interest in coming back to coach in Charlotte. Gentry has been the head coach for Miami, Detroit, Phoenix & L.A. Clippers in 12 seasons in the NBA. He is also a North Carolina native and played his college basketball at Appalachian State. Gentry is most remembered for his run with the Phoenix Suns & Steve Nash in 2010 when the Suns lost 4-2 against the Lakers in the western conference finals. In Gentry’s time with Phoenix, we can all remember how deadly the Nash/Amar’e duo was — no, the Bobcats don’t have players to the caliber of those two during their primes, but it’s safe to assume that Gentry would be a great fit in continuing the development of Kemba.
Long-time NBA assistant Elston Turner slated to interview with the Bobcats next Wednesday in Charlotte, a source told Y! Sports.
Elston Turner is probably a name that folks are not as familiar with, but may also be the best candidate of this bunch. Turner was one of Alvin Gentry’s assistants in Phoenix until Gentry was let go in January by the team, and left as well after not getting the interim job that went to Lindsey Hunter.
Turner was brought to Phoenix as a defensive specialist to go hand-in-hand with Gentry’s up-tempo, heavy PnR style offense. He spent time as an assistant in Houston, Sacramento and Portland before going to Phoenix — Turner also interviewed for the Portland head coaching position last summer before the team gave the reigns to Terry Stotts.
This is quite possibly the best candidate for player development — Nate Tibbetts coached two seasons in the NBDL where he took the Tulsa 66ers to two straight playoff appearances before joining Byron Scott’s staff in Cleveland. Tibbetts is thought of as a defensive minded coach and his Tulsa teams ranked high in defensive stats both seasons he was there. It’s obvious that Tibbetts is very well respected throughout the league for being a fantastic developmental coach for young players.
Budding star Kyrie Irving has had very high praise for Tibbetts while the two have spent time in Cleveland together — “Coach Tibbetts told me what to do and what not to do every single day.’’
1- On a scale of 1-10, how much did this move surprise you?
Spencer: 8. I just cannot understand how a franchise that has existed through such a persistent culture of losing and is coming off the worst season in NBA history (one year ago) can believe it’s wise to part ways with a coach after just one season.
Did Dunlap’s style sit well with the players? Maybe not. I can’t answer that. I am tired of reading that this shouldn’t be this big of a surprise. If someone can honestly answer that they heard consistent bad rumors about Dunlap, then please speak up. Didn’t we all know that Dunlap was a guy who was going to come in and run this team more like a college program — or at least to the level that would relate to the NBA? Yep, I’m pretty sure that was the word on him before Higgins and Cho made the hire. So, that being said — who now looks stupid? The guy who was fired, or the guys who hired him and then fired him for presumably the same reason they hired him? It’s all very odd to me and makes me wonder what in the world is going on in the Bobcats front office.
Maybe Mike Dunlap wasn’t the right guy for the job — I’m not trying to say that he was, I guess what I’m trying to say is that he deserved more than one season with this roster. Honestly, this should probably be a reminder to us all that this league is about the players, and the coaches that make out good in this league are the ones who can manage the personalities on their rosters the best.
Mathew: Seven. When I first saw the news come across Twitter, I have to admit I was rather surprised. Probably more in the 8/9 category. However, as I thought about it more and heard some of the rumblings about player dissatisfaction with his coaching style, general demeanor, and long practices, I began to understand it. As I saw a few writers point out, Dunlap was not very well-liked by the veteran players on the team (though it’s tough to find favor with the vets when you’re playing a majority of young guys). I agree with the notion that this would’ve come into play when potential free agents began asking their NBA brethren about playing for Dunlap and whether they would enjoy the experience. It’s difficult to lure players to your market when you have both a struggling team and a coach veteran players don’t respect.
Greg: Six. It was pretty clear last year that Dunlap wasn’t their first choice, and that he’d likely be a caretaker coach as the team rebuilt. I expected him to get another year, but this was a move that was coming sooner rather than later.
2- Was this the correct decision by Rich Cho and Rod Higgins?
Spencer: I’m sure you could tell from my first answer where I stand on this one — I don’t see the purpose in doing business the way that Higgins, in particular, has chosen to. Like he has something in specific to hang his hat on in Charlotte? Nope. If the firing of Dunlap was such a pre-meditated decision, then why in the world hire him in the first place?
The rebuilding process that works together in unison must involve a consistent coach, so for the front office to pull the trigger this quickly on Dunlap just makes me believe they regret hiring him in the first place — funny, that correlates directly to what we’ve been used to with this front office for quite sometime now — inconsistent, poor decision making. It’s not good for the young core to have to get used to another system, it doesn’t fire up the fan base (at least not in the correct way) and it doesn’t seem to be healthy for the franchise.
Mathew: Yes. I’m all-in on Rich Cho because I feel like I have to be. I’m choosing to trust his judgment. Though you never know how it truly went down, I like the fact it was reported that Cho and Higgins first made the decision to let go of Dunlap before reaching out to Jordan for his blessing. It’s (purportedly) nice to see Cho calling the shots. That being said, this next decision needs to be right or it could be his last.
Greg: From the information we have, sure. There’s something to be said for continuity, but if Dunlap wasn’t a long-term answer, they need to take another shot at finding someone who will be. There were positives this year (increased win total, player development), but I think those mostly stemmed from improvements to the roster and some more seasoning for the young players. In any case, I think they’ll be making a lateral move at worst with their next hire, and maybe the players won’t hate the new guy.
3- Who’s your choice to be the Bobcats next head coach?
Spencer: Well, I certainly cannot see the team attracting any top names to Charlotte to come coach this roster. Mike Budenholzer is someone that I hope the Bobcats go after very hard. He’s the head assistant under Gregg Popovich in San Antonio and has been for 6 seasons now — he’s been with the Spurs organization for 16 seasons. Working under Pop, presumably Budenholzer would be a great X’s & O’s coach. As far as how good he is working with player ego’s and personalities, well I can’t speak for that, but he falls from the Popovich tree — that’s what is most attractive.
My head tells me Quinn Snyder will be the guy. It seemed for a short while that he was going to be who Charlotte went with before giving the sword to Dunlap last summer and the front office may now be deciding that’s the direction they should have gone in the first place.
Mathew: The early rumors surrounded Quinn Snyder, the former Missouri Tigers head coach and NBA assistant. Supposedly the Bobcats were very high on him last year. I would love to see them go after Brian Shaw, but from the sounds of it that doesn’t seem like a possibility at this time. Since my intel goes only so far as the NBA insiders I follow on Twitter, I’ll go with the current concensus pick and say Quinn Snyder.
Greg: My blue-sky choice would be a top assistant like Golden State’s Mike Malone or San Antonio’s Mike Budenholzer. Unlike Dunlap, those two have extensive experience with the NBA game and are more familiar with the grind of the season. The big negative is that they can afford to wait for an ideal head coaching job, which they wouldn’t have in Charlotte.
I think it’s more likely the Bobcats end up with a retread like Mo Cheeks or Avery Johnson, someone who wouldn’t mind inheriting a mess. A dark horse candidate could be Stephen Silas, but I don’t think the team will take a chance on two unproven coaches in a row.
The Bobcats have completed the 2012-2013 regular season and as the dust begins to settle it appears as if Charlotte took no steps backwards, but likely made some slight ground on the rebuilding process. Next stop — June 27th draft.
Kemba Walker, Gerald Henderson, Bismack Biyombo and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is pretty much how a future is defined in Charlotte currently and every single one of these guys got better this season. Kemba (18.86 PER) improved his shooting percentages drastically from one season ago(36.6% FG to 42.3%). Hendo (16.48 PER) became a different guy after the all-star break — 18.9 PPG on 46.2% shooting. Oh, and he added a 3-point shot this season. Biz (10.07 PER), well his improvement is tougher to put your finger on, but he’s also still only 20 years old. He had just two more double-doubles from a season ago and his shooting numbers actually got slightly worse — -.013 FG% & -0.4 PPG. That being said, Biz’ production on the glass improved slightly — +1.5 RPG & +0.6 Off. RPG. MKG (14.04 PER) had a typical rookie season on a bad team and I’m going to pretty much leave it at that — look, it’s clear to us all that his jump shot has a long way to go, but he’s without question going to be an elite defender (learning how to defend in NBA) and is explosive in open floor + at the rim.
Now that I’ve given you just the slightest of proof into the steps forward for the Bobcats on the court, let’s have a look at what might the team do in this summer’s draft. The season finale win over Cleveland was actually far more significant than many may have thought — it stole the best lottery odds away from Charlotte and made them the slight underdog to the Orlando Magic. Assuming, for the sake of example, that the Bobcats do end up with the number two pick in the draft, they’ll have an interesting decision to make. There’s no clear cut franchise player in this summer’s draft and we’ve been hearing that for awhile, but that doesn’t mean that Charlotte can afford to blow it either. This draft screams to me the opportunity for the Bobcats to go get another player who fits the ‘High motor/High character’ mold of what Cho is looking for — Victor Oladipo, Otto Porter, Ben McLemore & Alex Len are some names that come to mind. And again, I’m trying to decipher who the high character players are in this draft. Andrew Wiggins, Julius Randle, Marcus Smart & Jabari Parker (just to name a few) will all be there in 2014 and all have the capability to be superstars in the NBA — needless to say, don’t break your back trying to figure out the ‘best talent’ available to you this summer — get the player who’s going to come in and continue to improve the culture you’re trying to build if you’re Rich Cho and Mike Dunlap.
Victor Oladipo (6’5, 214 lbs.)– This is my pick if I’m Rich Cho and sitting with the #2 pick on June 27th. Oladipo has everything that I’d want in a SG — extremely athletic, elite defender, tough, EXTREMELY HIGH MOTOR, above average rebounder. His biggest knock is his jump shot and carelessness when putting the ball on the floor from time-to-time. Oladipo would put another elite defender on the floor to go beside MKG and aid in shading Kemba’s defensive deficiencies. Mostly, I like the idea of the Bobcats getting another player who has the mentality of killing himself in the gym everyday in order to make everything around him better. I certainly don’t know Victor personally, but when you watched the kid go 100 MPH every play on the floor at Indiana and hear the rumors of him being an extremely hard worker — well, it certainly seems like a very good fit for the culture remodeling in Charlotte.
Tom Crean made a comment this past season that Oladipo had improved as much over one season as much as he’d seen any player do since he’d been in coaching.
Dick Vitale — “That’s a mini version of number twenty-three (Jordan)!” Comment made during the Michigan game @ Indiana this past season.
I’ve heard the Dwayne Wade comparison made and I’d agree that’d be a best-case scenario for Oladipo in the league. The athleticism, explosiveness at the rim, wingspan for his size and quickness all resemble Wade’. His instincts in transition are what bring the biggest smile to my face — I just imagine some of the highlights than Oladipo and Kemba will have.
Josh McRoberts, PF41 MIN | 6-6 FG | 5-6 FT | 8 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 20 PTS | -6
He just kept getting better and better as his time in Charlotte wore on — McBob ended up playing 26 games with the Bobcats after being dealt to Charlotte. In those games, McBob shot 50.5% from the field, scored 9.3 PPG, grabbed 7.2 RPG, dished out 2.7 APG — 30.8 MPG.
I’ve pondered quite a bit lately about what kind of contract Charlotte will offer him this summer. Here was fellow QCH’er Greg Pietras’ thoughts —
@qcsportscrave I think/hope it’ll be similar to his last deal. Two years, six million.
Bismack Biyombo, PF36 MIN | 3-5 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 3 BLK | 0 TO | 8 PTS | -3
I should have been put in twitter jail when I got super-cynical on Biz Saturday night (vs. Milwaukee) after he started the game dropping every ball that was thrown or bounced his way — then he went on to record a double-double (13 PTS, 17 REB).
Biyombo ended the season on a tear — in his last 5 games Biz shot 54.5%, scored 8.4 PPG and pulled down 10.4 RPG.
A certain work in progress, especially on the defensive end, but Coach Dunlap hasn’t been shy to remind people that Biz is still one of the youngest players in the league at 20 years old and now has 2 seasons of experience under his belt.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, SF25 MIN | 5-7 FG | 1-2 FT | 8 REB | 4 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 11 PTS | +12
Another guy that ended the season in a very solid manner — MKG’s last 10 games — 50.6% FG, 10.2 PPG, 7.8 RPG.
Dunlap was consistent with keeping MKG under 30 MPG all season, but I’d expect to see the kid in much more end of game situation next season.
Kemba Walker, PG36 MIN | 6-16 FG | 9-12 FT | 4 REB | 7 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 5 TO | 24 PTS | +14
This game got extremely sped up at times and the 5 turnovers from Kemba attest to that, but that was really the only blemish tonight for the second year PG. Kemba got into the lane pretty much whenever he wanted and made the right play more times than not — setting up his teammates much better down the stretch this season — he averaged 6.5 APG in the last 10, which was up from 5.7 for the season.
Biz had his moments this season, but I believe that it’s clear we’re seeing a star beginning to bud in Kemba. He’s already one of the most explosive ball handlers in the league and in 2-3 seasons I don’t think it’d be crazy to think he could be a top-5 PG in the league.
Gerald Henderson, SG35 MIN | 6-13 FG | 3-4 FT | 3 REB | 6 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 5 TO | 15 PTS | +2
Another interesting topic this summer will be Hendo and how the Bobcats match whatever offer he receives from other teams — Hendo’s qualifying number is $4.3 million, but it’s rather clear at this point that teams are going to be prepared to offer more than that and Charlotte will have to decide where they draw the line in the sand to not match.
In Hendo’s last 20 games this season he averaged 20.8 PPG on 47.3% FG.
Tyrus Thomas, PF7 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 2 PTS | +13
Amnesty. Good luck with whatever the future brings you, Tyrus.
Jeff Adrien, SF12 MIN | 2-4 FG | 3-4 FT | 5 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 7 PTS | +10
I’d think that Adrien has at least earned a training camp invite and possibly even played his way into a 1-year deal. Regardless, he proved this season that he belongs on a team in the NBA.
Jannero Pargo, PG12 MIN | 2-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 5 PTS | -7
It’s impossible not to pull for Jannero. I had the pleasure of meeting him at the back end of his 10-day contract the night the Bobcats beat the Wizards at home — this guy is a consummate professional who hopefully continues to get opportunities to play the game he loves.
Ben Gordon, SG12 MIN | 3-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 7 PTS | -12
Roller coaster. I can’t think of a better term to describe what this guy puts you through as a fan. Charlotte will have to handle one more season with Gordon — it’s certainly going to be interesting to watch how Dunlap uses him next season depending on who Charlotte drafts.
Two Things We Saw
The Bobcats finished the season with 3-straight wins and jumped Orlando in the standings for worst. Charlotte will likely now end up with the #2 overall pick in this summer’s draft if the odds hold true in the lottery.
No matter what eyeglass you look through, progress was made this season and we should all tip our caps to the effort of this team. Especially to the job that Mike Dunlap did to hold this young group together, playing hard until the end.
Spencer: On a more condensed scale, there is actually a lot at stake tonight for Charlotte — a win and Orlando loss knocks the Bobcats out of the best lottery odds to get the #1 overall pick in this summers draft. Charlotte can end the season by doing something that they haven’t done since Nov. 14th — win their 3rd straight game. I’d proclaim that ending the season with 3-straight wins would be a momentum builder going into next season in a small way. For as much losing as has happened this season, I do believe that it’s clear that headway has been made and Coach Dunlap has been able to begin the developmental process for many of these young players — Kemba’s shooting %’s are way up from last season. Kemba is shooting 42.3% in 81 games this season, opposed to 36.6% in just 66 games last season. Bismack Biyombo is grabbing 7.3 RPG this season, opposed to 5.8 RPG last year. Biz is also hitting the offensive glass at a much higher rate — 2.5 Off. RPG this season – 1.8 Off. RPG last season. Biz is understanding the game better this season and has become more of a man in the middle (defensive anchor), conceptualizing the half-court defensive principles much better. Jeff Taylor and MKG have both had up-and-down seasons, but Dunlap has been good about monitoring their minutes and the type of situations that he uses them in.
Looking toward tonight’s match-up, Charlotte is going to have to keep Kyrie Irving at bay if they want a chance to end the season with a win. Irving had eaten up the Bobcats in 2 games this season — he’s averaged 27.5 PPG, shooting 54.5% from the field, and, this is the kicker — Irving has been a ridiculous 88.9% (8-9) from behind the arc. I took a look at how Irving burned Charlotte in the Queen City back on Jan. 4th – this game had a lot to do with these ridiculous numbers, but Charlotte clearly has to be able to reign in Irving to have a chance.
I like the Bobcats to win tonight and finish the season on as positive of a note as they’ve had all year — 3 straight victories. Something to not lose sight of as Charlotte closes the season tonight — whether you’re a fan or not of Coach Dunlap, you have to tip your cap to how he’s been able to keep this team together at the end of the year. It’s hard for any coach in this league to keep his players focused and motivated for 82 games, but in my opinion, it speaks volumes to the type of coach that Mike Dunlap is to have his team playing as hard as they are going into game 82.
Predcition — Bobcats 108-105.
Greg: In a lot of ways, the Cleveland Cavaliers are where the Bobcats hope to be soon — they’ve got a budding superstar in Kyrie Irving; a solid cast of young supporting players (Tristan Thompson, Dion Waiters and Tyler Zeller); tons of cap room; and they’re owed five first-round picks over the next three years, in addition to their own. Of course, all that promise has only translated into four more wins than Charlotte had this year, which shows you how painful even a well-executed rebuild can be.
Still, Irving is the big difference between the two, and the Bobcats are hoping to get a player of his caliber in the next two drafts. Tonight’s games could play a small part in that: Charlotte and Orlando are currently in a tie for the league’s worst record, and I’m sure both front offices would quietly prefer the best odds at a No. 1 pick to a win tonight. The Magic will play the short-handed Heat, which have managed to remain competitive while resting LeBron, Wade and Allen.
Given how the last few weeks have gone, I wouldn’t be surprised if Dunlap plays for the win. If that’s the goal, they have a decent shot at one. Even though Cleveland took the previous two games this year, they’re still a good matchup for Charlotte, ranking among the league’s worst in three-point shooting. That’s the Bobcats’ biggest weakness on defense, in a close race with rebounding. The Cavs are also foul-prone, which the Bobcats have the personnel to take advantage of.
t’d be nice to see strong finishes to the season from Biyombo and Kemba. In the last 15 games, Walker is averaging 19.8 points on 44 percent shooting, 6.4 assists and 1.9 steals in 36.3 minutes. His overall efficiency is down, as he’s been shooting a poor 23.1 percent from three in that time, but those raw numbers are still encouraging.
Biyombo’s solid run is significantly smaller, but in the last five games he’s scoring 8.8 points on 52.8 percent shooting, grabbing 11.6 rebounds and blocking 3.0 shots in 37.6 minutes a game. A lot of that bump has come from playing more minutes, but the efficiency is nice to see. He really seems to be benefiting from playing next to Josh McRoberts, whose passing ability has opened up the offense in general.
Mathew: The season finale sets a matchup between two teams with hopes rooted in their respective futures. The Cleveland Cavaliers resting their fate in the ball handling and slick scoring of second-year PG, Kyrie Irving, as well as “The Decision” making skills of LeBron James. The Bobcats once again are looking to the draft for their next impact player, though they hope Kemba Walker and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (whose success may be tied to LeBron James as well) are on their way. The futures of Gerald Henderson and Byron Mullens (free agency) as well as Bismack Biyombo (skill set) are uncertain.
One thing that is for certain is that the Bobcats are going for win 21 tonight, which would eclipse my win prediction by one victory and end the season on a positive note (or a negative one assuming the Magic lose and the Bobcats wind up with the second most ping pong balls – depends on how you look at it). The matchup between Kyrie Irving and Kemba Walker should be entertaining, although Kyrie has definitely gotten the better of him to date. Irving has looked disinterested in the eyes of many as the season has wound down, however. Something to keep an eye on tonight.
For both selfish (to hit my projected win total) and unselfish (to hopefully garner the most ping pong balls) reasons I would prefer the Bobcats lose their finale tonight. But, I think they get the win and finish the season at a mark of 21-61. Bobcats 108-104.
Josh McRoberts, PF37 MIN | 4-5 FG | 2-2 FT | 7 REB | 8 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 5 TO | 10 PTS | +21
I believe I caught a bit of flak for comparing McRoberts to Boris Diaw when the Bobcats first landed him – but this is the kind of performance (as well as Saturday night’s) that I was meaning. McRoberts can score a little, rebound decently, and pass eargerly and solidly for a big man.
Bismack Biyombo, PF43 MIN | 4-6 FG | 2-3 FT | 11 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 3 BLK | 0 TO | 10 PTS | +18
A double-double for the Bobcats’ young center (important to remember that age when considering Bismack, and I’m guilty of overlooking at times) with 3 blocks for good measure.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, SF30 MIN | 4-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 8 PTS | +14
MKG helped hold Carmelo Anthony to 0 points in tonight’s contest – though Mike Woodson probably deserves the bulk of the credit (along with Melo’s injured shoulder). Mainly using this one to make the point the Bobcats’ got the win – but not against the Knicks A-team.
Kemba Walker, PG31 MIN | 9-15 FG | 3-3 FT | 4 REB | 13 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 23 PTS | +20
That will do, Kemba.
Gerald Henderson, SG39 MIN | 11-16 FG | 4-4 FT | 3 REB | 5 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 27 PTS | +24
Same for you, Gerald. Both starting guards put on efficient scoring displays, leading the Bobcats to one of their best offensive performances of the season: 106 points on 58% shooting from the field.
Jeffery Taylor, SG17 MIN | 5-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 12 PTS | -9
Jeff Taylor with the Ben Gordon-esque scoring burst off the bench. I much prefer seeing Taylor get the backup minutes to Gordon and Pargo, so a welcome sight with Taylor getting 17 minutes tonight.
This is a depleted Knicks roster tonight that will not feature Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler, Amar’e Stoudemire, Kenyon Martin or Marcus Camby. New York also just released PF Solomon Jones earlier today, so my guess is as good as yours as to who will start in the front court tonight for the Knicks — I’m throwing darts at Novak and Copeland. One thing we know for sure — the Knicks have no choice but to play extremely small tonight.
Without a true center or PF tonight for New York, they’re going to have to rely very heavily on dribble-penetration from their guards. Raymond Felton, Pablo Prigioni and Jason Kidd are all very good at getting into the center of defenses, forcing them to collapse and then New York kills you with their floor spacing and deadly shooters — Steve Novak, J.R. Smith, James White and even Chris Copeland can fill it up from deep.
Charlotte needs to focus on the one-on-one defensive match-ups tonight and give less attention to help defense. The more Kemba, Hendo, Taylor, Pargo & Gordon can keep the ball contained and in front of them, the less help defense will be needed and the harder it will be for New York to get wide open 3-point shots. Miami and San Antonio are probably the only other teams in the league with as good of spacing as the Knicks, so if New York is able to breakdown Charlotte off the dribble easily tonight — it’ll be a long night for the Bobcats.
We saw a depleted and undersized Miami team come into the ‘Cable Box’ just two weeks ago, spread the floor and kill Charlotte from behind the arc. The Heat took 33 3′s that night, making 13 of them.
There’s no question that the Bobcats have more to play for than New York tonight, but we all know that this Bobcats team is good at playing down to their competition when they do get a rare match-up that they should win.
Charlotte is awful at defending the 3-pointer. They’ve given up more 3PM than any other team in the league and allow their opponent’s to shoot the 2nd best 3FG% — Phoenix is the only team to allow a better 3FG%.
All this being said, I do think Charlotte makes some slight adjustments tonight defensively and forces this tiny Knicks lineup to finish around the rim.
A win tonight would give Charlotte 20 wins — a number that seemed like the realistic goal before the season.
Josh McRoberts, PF39 MIN | 7-9 FG | 4-4 FT | 9 REB | 9 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 18 PTS | +7
1 assist and 1 rebound away from a triple-double. Charlotte has been a career enlightening experience for McBob. It’s pretty much a forgone conclusion that the team will at least bring him back on a 1-year deal this off-season.
McBob’s ability to put the ball on the floor makes Charlotte’s dribble handoff tendencies much more dangerous. Don’t have the numbers in front of me, but I’d venture to guess that a ton of McBob’s offense comes off of the dribble handoff sequences.
Bismack Biyombo, PF37 MIN | 6-9 FG | 1-5 FT | 17 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 3 TO | 13 PTS | +1
One of his best efforts of the season. Although John Henson and Gustavo Ayon were the only real inside presence for Milwaukee, you still have to consider all the baby steps with Biz. Offensively, he really worries me. Don’t know that he’ll ever be a worrisome factor for the opposition on that end, but he defends the rim at an above average level already and the 6 offensive rebounds tonight speak volumes about the attention he requires on the glass at all times.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, SF30 MIN | 2-7 FG | 3-4 FT | 8 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 7 PTS | +21
Just an average night for MKG. Makes some plays in the first half and then it’s like you forget he’s on the team in the 2nd. Dunlap has been very consistent with his minutes and how he uses him.
Kemba Walker, PG35 MIN | 7-18 FG | 5-6 FT | 4 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 21 PTS | +3
Once again tonight Kemba gets the Cats rolling offensively to begin the game. Pargo and the second unit took a lot of pressure off of Kemba & Hendo tonight with their performance.
Gerald Henderson, SG34 MIN | 5-18 FG | 2-3 FT | 3 REB | 4 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 12 PTS | +4
Hendo struggled offensively pretty badly tonight, but Jeff Taylor picked up his slack. Hendo did some good things tonight — one was doing a great job on J.J. Redick, who went 3-14 and scored just 12 points.
Jeff Adrien, SF20 MIN | 2-4 FG | 2-2 FT | 7 REB | 2 AST | 4 STL | 3 BLK | 0 TO | 6 PTS | +12
Brought a lot of energy and was part of the second unit that came in for Charlotte early in the 2nd quarter and stretched the Bobcats lead to 13. 4 steals and 3 blocks? Seriously? Defensive specimen tonight.
Jannero Pargo, PG13 MIN | 2-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 5 PTS | +7
Was the QB of the second unit that kept the starters well rested tonight and kept the pressure off of Kemba & Hendo offensively. Pargo is an extremely smart basketball player — (defensively) always is face up on his match at the catch, overplays passing lanes and knows exactly how & when to help down when the ball enters the post.
Jeffery Taylor, SG14 MIN | 4-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 9 PTS | +6
Just about as efficient as you can be in 14 min.
Two Things We Saw
Bobcats out-rebounded MIL 52-36 (!) and outscored the Bucks in the paint 50-40. Don’t quote me on this, but that may be the most lopsided Charlotte has defeated their opponent in those two statistical categories in two seasons.
Just when it looked as if Charlotte was safely in the cellar of the NBA for worst record, they win tonight and ORL loses badly. The Bobcats will host the Knicks Monday night and the Magic will have Chicago at home. All of a sudden, there is a chance Charlotte could end up not having the worst record in league when the clock strikes 12 on the regular season.
Milwaukee has shot and scored the ball as they wish against the Bobcats so far this season. In 3 games the Bucks have shot 46.3% and are averaging 112.3 PPG. Also, the Bucks are yanking down offensive rebounds against Charlotte at a ridiculous rate — 15.3/game.
You can throw some of those numbers out the door tonight because it’s uncertain whether Brandon Jennings & Larry Sanders are going to play tonight. Neither played last night in ATL, and I have no inside scoop on what their status is tonight, but common sense tells me they probably won’t play.
The Bucks are really stumbling into the playoffs. Milwaukee has lost 7 of their last 10 and they’re also starting to rely on 3-ball much more in the past 10. The Bucks are averaging 25.7 3PA in their last 10 — that’s 5.7/game higher than their season average. Acquiring Redick and leaning less on front court scoring certainly has something to do with this, but Ersan Ilyasova is probably the biggest factor is this 3PA jump — for the season, Ilyasova is averaging 2.9 3PA/game, but in the last 10 games he’s taking 4.4 3PA/game and converting at an impressive 47.7% mark. Everyone is well aware of how much Charlotte struggles to guard the 3, so none of these numbers are encouraging leading up to tonight.
The Bobcats have 3 games (vs MIL, NYK, CLE) remaining this season and they’re all at home. They need to take 2 of 3 to get to 20 wins — a mark that most considered possible coming into this season.
Charlotte is 2 games clear of Orlando for the worst record in the league and the best draft lottery odds. A Bobcats loss tonight and a Magic win at home vs. Boston would secure the worst NBA record for a second straight season for Charlotte.