||Josh McRoberts, PF 30 MIN | 5-9 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 15 PTS | -14
He’s extremely versatile on the offensive end and is in the point of his career where he won’t make a lot of mistakes with the ball. three 3′s only add icing to the cake for this performance. McRob can stretch the floor, put the ball on the floor + create for teammates with pass and crashes offensive glass hard. He’s starting PF for foreseeable future.
||Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, SF 31 MIN | 3-7 FG | 1-5 FT | 8 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 7 PTS | -7
Is it possible for his jump shot to actually look worse? Because it might. For all the talk about MKG working with Mark Price on his jumper, well, throw that out of the window. The guy has a serious hitch I’m not guessing it’s ever going to be fixed.
All that being said, this guys plays his @$$ off — nobody gives more effort than MKG. He’s relentless on the defensive end + is fantastic in transition – running the break with ball or running wing.
||Al Jefferson, C 30 MIN | 6-19 FG | 1-2 FT | 8 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 0 TO | 13 PTS | -4
Very underwhelming debut for Big Al. Looked a little bit uncomfortable at times and had difficulty with Houston’s massive frontline. However, the ankle seemed to hold up well and Jefferson played 30 minutes – there’s your positive.
Defensively, Jefferson just simply doesn’t move well and that’s not going to change.
||Kemba Walker, PG 35 MIN | 5-10 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 5 AST | 4 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 12 PTS | -1
Kemba had 8 points after the 1st quarter and then was more-or-less a ghost offensively for the remainder of the game. 4 steals are what stand out most here – gambles a ton on the defensive end, but Kemba is clearly quick enough to make it pay off.
||Gerald Henderson, SG 32 MIN | 5-16 FG | 1-1 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 11 PTS | -8
Rough night from the field and settled for way too many mid-range jump shots. Faders at that. Did attempt two 3FG – missed both.
Hendo had his hands full with Harden on the defensive end most of the night. The 1st half was impressive, as he held Harden to just 6 points on 2-8 from the floor. 2nd half was way different – 15 points on 5-8 shooting.
||Cody Zeller, PF 16 MIN | 1-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 2 PTS | +3
Tough debut for the rookie. Looked uncomfortable and lost on the defensive end. Now that I think of it, he didn’t look noticeably more cool on the offensive end. Made some nice moves with the ball from the elbow a few times, but the speed and physicality of the NBA game is clearly going to present a serious learning curve for Zeller.
||Bismack Biyombo, PF 17 MIN | 2-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 4 PTS | -6
In the minutes that Biz got he played hard and did what he was in the game to do – be physical + foul D12. Expected Biz to see a little bit more time on the floor tonight.
||Ramon Sessions, PG 19 MIN | 5-11 FG | 3-4 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 14 PTS | -15
This is the Sessions kind of game that we’ve all learned to come and love. Gets to the rim, collapses the defense and gets to the foul line on demand. Also, made the only 3 he attempted tonight.
||Jeffery Taylor, SG 28 MIN | 1-6 FG | 3-4 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 5 PTS | -8
Clifford apparently loves Taylor:
“Jeff Taylor has been so good, it makes no sense to eat into his minutes,” said Clifford after the game.
This isn’t that shocking considering Taylor’s summer league + preseason, but I was surprised that Gordon didn’t get any playing time tonight. I completely understand the idea of developing your young talent, but quite frankly, I don’t agree with Taylor getting 28 min and Gordon getting none.
Four Things We Saw
- Charlotte was dominated on the glass 54-37 and Dwight Howard had 26 boards of his own. Good think the Bobcats won’t have to handle this kind of frontcourt every night.
- 3-point shooting: Houston was only 9-26 from behind the arc, so the Bobcats did a decent job at defending the 3. On the other hand, Charlotte only took 10 themselves — this will be a discrepancy that exist against most opponents. The Bobcats simply don’t have enough threats from deep, especially if Ben Gordon doesn’t play.
When you see the Bobcats drive, penetrate and kick – then not take the 3, but make another dribble penetration, let’s make something clear. It’s not by design, it’s because the team simply doesn’t have the shooters to space the floor with.
- 8 turnovers for the Bobcats as a team for the entire game. That’s fantastic, and not only a stat that will keep them in games, but win them a few.
- Bobcats will get a Cleveland, who knocked off the new look Nets tonight, in the home opener on Friday night.
Who: Houston Rockets vs Charlotte Bobcats
What: NBA Basketball – Rockets Home Game
When: 8:00 PM ET
Where: Live at Toyota Center, Houston, TX
Opening game of season, so nothing here.
Houston: Terrence Jones (Day-to-day)
Charlotte: Al Jefferson (Questionable)
In the final season of the Charlotte Bobcats as we know them, there’s a refreshing feeling around the talent on this roster and they’ll debut in Houston tonight. There’s no denying that expectations for this group should still definitely be realistic and the playoffs are a stretch, but there’s excitement – we haven’t had that feeling with this franchise in awhile.
Tonight, Charlotte gets a squad that could very well win the western conference. Dwight Howard and James Harden look to imprint their plans for the season starting tonight. Can the Bobcats provide an early season speed bump for the high powered Rockets?
1- STATS: What will be the key statistical category tonight for the Bobcats other than trying to outscore the opponent?
Spencer Percy:I do believe that 3-point shooting is going to be very important, as Greg has already touched on. To add to that, though, I’d point out that the Bobcats really have to limit Houston’s offensive rebounds tonight – second chances for the Rockets with this kind of offensive firepower would bury Charlotte.
Greg Pietras: Three-point attempts. Last year’s Bobcats allowed the most three-pointers in the league, and that was a big factor in their record. Since their own long-range shooting is so poor, it’s hard for them to make up the difference unless they’re having a very efficient night in other areas. If the pre-season is any indication, this year could be more of the same: opponents averaged 23.4 three-point attempts over eight preseason games, which is right in line with the 22.5 attempts per game Charlotte conceded in 2011-12.
Houston is poised to take advantage, as they took the second-most three-pointers last year and should be high in the rankings again this year. It’ll be interesting to see if Charlotte’s defense can adjust.
Dakota Schmidt: Rebounds- One of the main goals for Charlotte during this offseason was to improve the overall face of the front-court. Of course with the additions of Jefferson and Zeller, it would appear that slowly become more of a strength than that same terrifying weakness that it has been since the team’s last playoff appearance. The first test for this new core will be against the new-look Houston Rockets that’s lead by Dwight Howard who’s going to be on a mission to prove himself as the league’s best center. Given their overall defensive reputations, you presume it would be practically impossible for Charlotte to contain the powerful Dwight Howard who might even be more of a force after working with Hakeem Olajuwon in the offseason. With that said, I just want to see how this front-court can do on the boards when they’re matched up against the likes of the aforementioned Howard, Omer Asik or Donatas Motiejunas.
2- SCHEME: What is the best plan of attack for the Bobcats to contain Dwight Howard and how should they approach pick-and-roll situations defensively tonight?
Spencer:2- D12 will be the pick-and-pop man on most of Houston’s PnR sequences tonight. I have a feeling that Charlotte is very skeptical about having Jefferson overwhelmed in this kind of defensive coverage with the state of his ankle, so we should see plenty of Biz vs. D12 (anyone remember this gem). Biyombo will have to carry the majority of PnR coverage and also be a huge factor for the Bobcats on the glass – he’s averaged over 10 RPG in the preseason, so let’s hope that can continue. Long story short, Biz is the catalyst on the defensive end for Charlotte tonight – he’s got to be stout in PnR coverage, protect the rim without getting in foul trouble and dominate the defensive glass.
Greg: They’ve had some success in years past by putting Bismack Biyombo on Howard in single coverage while their wing defenders stuck with the shooters. Because of that, we might see Biz average more minutes tonight that he’ll see in the near future. If they can avoid double-teaming Howard, they can also apply more pressure on James Harden, which usually pays off — he led the league in turnovers last season.
Dakota: Close your eyes and hope for the best? Honestly I would send Bismack Biyombo out there to be that supposed “defensive secret weapon” because he’s always solid when he was asked to defend Howard. Bismack’s able to keep up with the athletic Howard while able to use his 7’6 wingspan to potentially stop him in the low-post. When Biyombo isn’t on the court, I suppose you could Zeller on him during pick-and-roll situations because he is a quick and athletic frontcourt player despite the major disadvantage in terms of his overall strength compared to Dwight Howard.
3- PICK IT: Al Jefferson is back and Charlotte launches the 2013-’14 campaign tonight – who you got?
Spencer:Yes, Jefferson should be back, but how much he plays is unknown. I like Houston in this game, but not so fast. As our Saturday morning favorite Lee Corso would say – ‘Closer than the experts think!’
Greg: I’d like to be optimistic, but this one could get ugly. Between the three-point shooting and Howard’s rebounding, Houston is well-prepared to exploit some of Charlotte’s weaknesses. I’ll be happy if the Bobcats can keep things close.
Dakota: Hopefully they’ll be able to look relatively respectful throughout the game as they matchup against one of the best teams in the Western Conference. Two of Houston’s biggest strengths (Dwight Howard and three-point shooting) will be a definite challenge for Charlotte so overall hope will be for the team to look as competitive and respectable as possible while showcasing some hopeful improvement from MKG, Walker, Cody Zeller and maybe Bismack Biyombo.
I wouldn’t list this as a setback, but Bobcats fans are going to have to play the waiting game to see if Al Jefferson debuts in the opener Wednesday night or not.
Jefferson did reportedly practice today, but the extent of how much activity he was able to do is unknown. He was riding the bike as practice was opened up to the media, according to Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer.
“He did some contact, some 5-on-5, but not everything,” Steve Clifford said after practice.
One thing is clear here: Jefferson is taking the ankle very serious and handling the situation with precaution. One week ago it sounded like a no-brainer that he’d play against the Rockets in the opener, but it doesn’t seem like the tone around him is quite as optimistic now. The fact that the opener dishes out Dwight Howard, James Harden and the upstart Rockets could certainly have something to do with this — Charlotte will face a ton of pick-and-rolls on Wednesday night and the team may not be very confident running Jefferson and his glass ankle out in coverage of the PnR. I’m just throwing darts here, but it’s worth considering. Worst case, we’ll see Jefferson on Friday night at home against Cleveland.
The Bobcats made slight work of Cleveland in their last preseason game at home with a 105-92 win. Charlotte improves to 4-3 on the preseason and have sported one of the best defenses in the NBA during this stretch – last night’s game was actually the first game all preseason that the Bobcats allowed their opponent to score 90+ points.
In the win, Jeff Taylor carried the torch for Charlotte and quite possibly put the SG rotation debate to bed. Taylor finished the game with 20 points on 7-11 (3-6 3FG) shooting from the floor. After Ben Gordon’s 22 point performance on Oct. 17th that featured a 7-9 (4-4 3FG) shooting performance from the floor, many thought, including myself, that this might be the turning point in which Gordon solidified himself in the lineup – maybe even the first SG off the bench behind Hendo. The need for a true ‘shooting’ guard in the rotation (and really in the starting lineup) is well documented and obvious, but if Jeff Taylor can hover anywhere around 38-42% 3P% then go ahead and pencil him in as the first SG off the bench. What Taylor brings on the defensive end contrary to Gordon is as clear as day, but few players in the NBA still holster the shot Gordon does + the ability to simply not miss through stretches.
Clifford and management will have to use Gordon on the floor wisely — he’s the kind of player that most teams in contention will lineup for when the trade deadline comes around. A pure shooter that can space the floor and be what I’d call a ‘momentum sealer’.
Gerald Henderson had a strong performance last night with 19 points (7-13 FG), 5 assists and 3 rebounds. A much needed outing for Hendo.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist left the second half of last night’s game with a strained right hamstring. MKG left the game with 6 points and 3 rebounds. Although there hasn’t been an official statement with just how serious the injury is, we do have this gem.
The Bobcats will wrap up preseason play on Friday night in Madison Square Garden against the Knicks.
A quick note: Sorry for any frustrations you may have experienced trying to comment recently. Everything was being marked as spam and nothing was getting reviewed for approval by the moderators. This should now be resolved – if you continue to see issues, comments aren’t the way to get that seen and resolved: Email me (Brett) please at qchoops(at)gmail(dot)com.
On to the links. First up, we have a couple from Hardwood Paroxysm – starting with a roundtable on sophomore obsessions and then a bit more on the Bobcats’ own MKG more specifically.
Brett’s note: responding to prompt of who is your favorite sophomore:
Derek: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. I get to watch a lot of him for Rufus on Fire, and a lot of the focus gets placed on his jumpshot, but he was the league’s youngest player last season and still does several things really well. He even rebounded from hitting his rookie wall to finish the season strongly, which I thought was important to see from him. Favorite to me here probably means favorite to root for, but Kidd-Glichrist is also a talented player.
Hardwood Paroxysm’s Sophomore Crushes – roundtable
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is the latest young player whose reputation has suffered from recycled, pre-conceived notions constructed from draft hype that ignores context altogether. Fortunately, Kidd-Gilchrist’s basketball fabric – tireless worker, relentless competitor – is the kind that won’t unravel from such careless, snapshot evaluation. Combined with his burgeoning physical profile, it’s that very attitude why MKG’s future still shines so bright even after a rookie season most deemed disappointing.
My Sophomore Crush: MKG – Jack Winter at Hardwood Paroxysm
Zach Lowe and Bill Simmons are ranking the watchability of all NBA teams – and the Cats weren’t last. Though Zach had them there:
Zach: I had them dead last in my own rankings, which surprised me. I think it’s residual malaise from the last two seasons, and the fact that their court design contains an orange shade that distracts me with images of Creamsicles.
-NBA League Pass Annual Rankings – Zach and Bill at Grantland
Some season preview pieces from around the web:
I leafed through an NBA preview magazine at the grocery store the other day and saw they had estimated the Bobcats to win fewer games than last season. How the fart do you lose more games without Byron Mullens and Tyrus Thomas playing significant minutes? I just don’t see that happening. They’ll probably still be in the lottery, but the new roster should help the development of the young core while not maxing out too soon in a win now mode.
-Charlotte Bobcats 2013-14 preview – Ben Swanson at RufusOnFire
Kidd-Gilchrist is still just 20 years old and has three really desirable qualities. First, he rebounds like Miley Cyrus from bad press. Among SFs with at least 50 games played, MKG was third in total rebounding percentage (12.9%). Second, he really does seem to possess that mythical “ultimate team player” attribute that he became known for in his year at Kentucky.
-Previewing the Bobcats’ Bigs – Blogcat over at BobcatsPlanet takes on the bigs
Previewing the wings – Blogcat at BobcatsPlanet again
The frontcourt has added Cody Zeller, Al Jefferson and Anthony Tolliver. Charlotte also resigned Josh McRoberts, but it’s still time for Biz to turn a corner and prove that he’s at least a player that deserves to be in a rotation in this league.
Charlotte has until the end of the month to decide whether or not they’ll pick up the team option on Biz’ rookie deal worth roughly $3.8 million — it’s highly probable that the option will be picked up by the Bobcats, but the fact that the question is even being asked by some is slightly bothersome. And should be. Biz still has value in this league — part because he has a 7’5 wingspan and has the potential to be an elite rim defender in this league. Also, Biz just turned 21 years old in August — plenty of time left to blossom. This somewhat segway’s into my next point: If nothing else, Charlotte will keep persisting through the Biz experiment for another season due to the fact that he certainly still has trade value. Not sure this is a guy who will ever justify being the 7th overall selection, but he still has respectable stock in this league. That being said, I trust that Cho will be smart on capitalizing on his value somehow, whether or not that means Biz playing in Charlotte through his entire rookie deal.
Well, the obvious. The guy is offensively handicapped. In fact, when Biz tries to catch the ball around the block, many times it resembles what me catching a medicine ball would look like. This is fascinating too, considering how solid he makes his hand-eye coordination look when blocking shots on the defensive end.
To me, Biz plays like a guy who still hasn’t adjusted to the speed of the game in the NBA — offensively, at least. He’s very timid with the ball and is a deer in headlights at the sight of the ball being thrown to him. One shooting stat that sums up a lot with just how stunted his growth is on the offensive end — Among qualified bigs that attempted at least 100 layups last season (via Tom Haberstroh — ESPN Insider), Biz was 2nd worst in the league with a 44.2% mark. Only Roy Hibbert was worse at 43.6%.
– Tom Haberstroh — ESPN Insider
Another important note: Among the hundreds of players in NBA history who played at least 2,000 minutes in their sophomore season, Biyombo had the third-lowest scoring rate per 36 minutes (6.4 points). That says as much about the situation in Charlotte as it does Biyombo’s development, but it’s still not a good sign that Biyombo still can’t buy a bucket. The Bobcats can’t afford to have a top-10 pick turn into a better-rebounding Joel Anthony.
Last season, Biz was a mediocre rebounder at best — his 15.2 rebounding rate was good for 56th in the league among qualified players. He’s not significantly stronger on the offensive or defensive glass either — both need immense improvement.
The most alarming statistic for Biz, to me, is his turnover ratio of 15.6 — this ranked 78th out of 80 qualified power forwards in the league last season. Oh, and to shove your face further in the dirt, consider this — Biz was dead last (80th) in the NBA in usage rate among Power Forwards at 9.2, but he had the 3rd highest turnover ratio. Folks, that defines a player that really shouldn’t be touching the ball. Like, at all.
Two words — Rim Protector. If nothing else in this kids career, he’s always going to have to be way above average in this category. What makes Biz so successful at blocking shots? Two things: 1) He’s got a 7’5 wingspan, and 2) Biz contests shots with both of his hands most of the time, giving the offensive player no angle to adjust and mimicking a motion similar to a standing high jump.
Last season, Biz averaged 2.4 blocks/36 min — best for 24th in the league. Would expect that ranking to be a little bit better, but none the less solid.
Pick-and-roll defense certainly isn’t one of Biz’ strengths, but since I’m in the category of optimism I’ll point out how he can really improve here. For starters, he’s simply got to react quicker to getting out to hedge on the PnR — that’s as simple as recognizing when the action is coming + communication between teammates (which has been awful as a team). Secondly, use your 7’5 wingspan! What a tool his lengthy arms should be in PnR coverage — covering wider area in not allowing ball handler to get around him + taking away air space/passing lanes for with long arms in recovery.
So, unfortunately there’s not a whole lot of extremely positives factors in Biz’ development to this point, but hope is still there. Very young, freaky physical specimen + a great work ethic make for a guy who could still certainly develop into something nice, but there’s a long road ahead.
Late in the 2012-13 season, the Charlotte Bobcats surprisingly used their 15th and final roster spot on journeyman guard Jannero Pargo to help solidify their otherwise solid backcourt rotation. Similar to another low-profile player who seemed to be a minor addition towards the end of last season,(ie. Josh McRoberts) Pargo was brought back on board after a relatively solid stretch with the team.
Thanks to his pristine shooting touch from the perimeter, Pargo was able to lead and elevate an otherwise stagnant core of Bobcats reserves. While his “heat checks” were occasionally on center stage, he was a relatively mediocre to below-average offensive player when he wasn’t stationed from the three-point line.
As detectable from the following shot-chart, our subject actually became worse when he moved closer to the paint which is pretty confusing. As I’ve previously mentioned in a majority of my pieces on QCH, recently acquired Al Jefferson will be his most efficient when he’s able to work with players who can score from the perimeter. With the resigning of Pargo, Jefferson could occasionally have that player on an 15-20 minute per game basis.
His perimeter ability may be the main focal point of Pargo’s overall game but that shouldn’t take away from his underrated ability as a man-to-man defender. Before his trip around the Eastern Conference last season, Pargo had a little niche with the Atlanta Hawks because of the aforementioned perimeter ability but also because of his stellar play on the defensive end. Per Synergy Sports, opponents averaged a diminutive .79 PPP when they were matched up against Pargo. The most impressive thing about that would probably how he’s maintained that level of defensive fortitude as he enters the twilight of his career. One of the main reasons for that would probably lean towards that relative balance between aggression and being cerebral. That aggressive nature is showcased by how Pargo can stick to his opponent like Velcro but he’s also intelligent enough to be able to ease his way past off-ball screens or move with a penetrating opponent without drawing a foul.
While it’s relatively depressing for Pargo to just be a back-up guard who will be mainly stationed from the perimeter, that niche has kept him in the league for the past eleven seasons. In the past season, Charlotte finished 27th in 3 point field goal percentage so Pargo will be that necessary piece for a team who’s desperate to become a more balanced and efficient team from the perimeter. His role may be limited as he sits behind the likes of Kemba Walker, Ramon Sessions, Gerald Henderson and Ben Gordon but Pargo will still be pretty valuable because of his gift with the three-point shot.
As optimistic as the mood has been among the Bobcats faithful since the summer, it all came tumbling down to earth when Al Jefferson sprained his right ankle contesting a Chris Bosh shot on Friday night in Kansas City.
Jefferson was having a solid night with 11 points and 7 rebounds in just 23 minutes before the injury occurred — now Charlotte is holding their breath that Big Al will be available for the team when they open the regular season October 30th in Houston.
“I’m going to do my best to be back for opening night. I’m going to take it one day at a time and go through the process. I’ve sprained my ankle so many times, I just know how it goes,” stated Jefferson when he spoke with the Milwaukee media before the Bobcats played the Bucks Saturday night.
When the injury occurred, there were numerous reports that suggested that Jefferson had injured his right knee – the same one that he suffered a torn ACL to back in 2008. Thankfully, that ended up not being the case, but Jefferson was in serious pain and had to be carried to the locker room by his teammates. The x-ray in the arena Friday night was negative, but noting that Jefferson has sprained his ankle numerous times in the past + this time seemed to be quite serious means that it’s going to be very difficult to determine a timetable for his return – sprained ankles can take on a life of their own.
Tough to tell exactly how the Bobcats will approach this situation — the good news is that there are no fractures, so structurally Jefferson’s foot is okay. That being said, if he were to sprain it again early in the season, it could certainly sideline Jefferson for an extended period of time.
Steve Clifford did admit that the team would experiment with Cody Zeller at center more due to this injury.
There were many hopes that the Bobcats would be a much improved team offensive this season, but so far the preseason tells us that very well may not be the case. As a team, Charlotte has been 83-227 (36.5%) from the floor in 3 games. Not good. To rub salt in the wound — Kemba, Henderson and MKG are a combined 21-69 (30.4%) from the floor in 3 games.
The Bobcats have been nothing short of a dumpster fire, offensively, so far this preseason. Ah, but there in lies the hope — it is only preseason. I think that we all realize there’s no reason overreacting to preseason results, but these offensive numbers + the injury to Jefferson forces us all to remember the movie we’ve seen with this franchise far too often.
Tomorrow night Charlotte will play Cleveland in their 4th preseason game — the game will be play in Canton, OH.
The team announced today that center Brendan Haywood will need surgery on his left foot due to a stress fracture. Haywood will have two screws placed in the left foot to stabilize the navicular bone next week.
When you glance at the depth chart this doesn’t appear to be a huge blow for Charlotte, as Haywood was slotted third among centers behind Jefferson and Biyombo. Don’t let that fool you, though. For starters, Haywood is the tallest player on this roster and if either Jefferson or Biyombo come down with an injury then the Bobcats have real problems in the frontcourt.
The front office will now have to evaluate the depth they have in the frontcourt and decide whether or not it would be worth it to add another big man. The team does currently have free agent center Patrick O’Bryant on the preseason roster, but he did not play on Tuesday night and it’s uncertain as to what the team believes they have in him – O’Bryant was drafted in the first round by Golden State in 2010. He played college basketball at Bradley University.
“I think they’ll keep options open. If somebody became available, who Rich and Rod thought could help, I’m sure we have the flexibility to add somebody to the roster,” Clifford said when questioned whether or not he thought the team would add another center.
The Bobcats have 12 guaranteed contracts (Pargo’s contract isn’t guaranteed, but we expect the team to keep him) on the roster currently and 16 total players. The maximum an NBA roster can hold going into the regular season is 15, so the Bobcats do have some flexibility with the roster if they choose to use it.
When Clifford was asked how O’Bryant had been in training camp so far, he responded with — “He’s been fine. For somebody like him it’s doubly hard. He’s coming in and learning something totally new. In another situation there’d be more of an opportunity to learn from the other guys.”
I’ll let you make of that what you will, but certainly doesn’t sound like Clifford is going to bend over backwards in an attempt to keep O’Bryant on the roster for the regular season.
Ramon Sessions is already one of the NBA’s best-traveled journeymen, playing for five teams in six seasons. After one year in Charlotte, he could be the odd man out once again — but it’s not due to his level of play.
Sessions joined the Bobcats in 2012, signing as insurance in case Kemba Walker didn’t grow into a starting-quality point guard. When it became clear that Walker had made a significant leap, however, Sessions’ role became a little fuzzier. His consistent scoring made him invaluable on the second unit, but a crowded backcourt of Walker, Gerald Henderson, Ben Gordon and Jeff Taylor meant then-coach Mike Dunlap was forced into playing awkward small-ball lineups.
Sessions held his own at shooting guard, and lineups featuring Kemba and Ramon performed marginally better than the team’s average on both offense and defense. But the two are still an imperfect fit — neither are particularly good long-range shooters, and both need the ball in their hands to play their best. New coach Steve Clifford has hinted that small ball is on its way out, so it seems likely Sessions will move to a pure backup role.
That’s unfortunate, as he was one of the Bobcats’ most consistent players last year. Though his shooting efficiency wasn’t great, Sessions was terrific at drawing fouls and converting those opportunities. Among guards that played at least 15 minutes a game, Sessions ranked second in free throws per field goal attempted. The rest of the top five included James Harden, Ricky Rubio, John Wall and Kobe Bryant.
That meant a lot of ugly basketball, but it also provided a steady steam of points for a team that desperately needed them. Combined with his skilled ball-handling, good passing and passable defense, Sessions was a positive veteran presence for Charlotte last year — and with one year and $5 million left on his contract, he’s been a good contributor at a great price.
That value and his possibly diminishing role means he could find himself on the trade block, however. Despite being several years into their rebuild, Charlotte still has some gaping holes (shooting shooting shooting), and first-round picks are always welcome. It seems unlikely that Sessions will remain in town past this year, in any case, and he’s one of the few veteran Bobcats with much trade value. If they get an offer that isn’t insulting, they should at least consider it.
Until then, though, they can count on Sessions as a bench anchor and a steadying influence for a young squad that needs one.