Queen City Hoops

Bobcats acquire Gary Neal and Luke Ridnour from Milwaukee

We all knew that the Charlotte front office had been burning up the phones this week to land offensive help before the trade deadline. Today, they manufactured a trade that will bring guards Gary Neal and Luke Ridnour to the Bobcats in exchange for Ramon Sessions and Jeff Adrien.

Losing Sessions to mainly bolster three-point shooting is what will be debated the most about this trade, but it ends up making sense for Charlotte due to the fact that this ends up being a 2-for-1 deal, essentially. Losing Ramon won’t make any Bobcats fan do backflips, but Charlotte will get back Luke Ridnour, who will immediately become the team’s backup point-guard + Gary Neal will now give this roster a dead-eye shooting guard who can come off the bench and score points in volume. Jeff Adrien, who I’m very sad to see go, was simply added into this trade to make the salaries balance out – in essence, defining the 2-for-1 deal for Charlotte.

Gary Neal is a 39.3% three-point shooter over his four-year NBA career. Although Neal has not been good in Milwaukee this season, he also hasn’t been happy being there and the Bucks deciding to sign him last summer simply didn’t pay off. He’s averaged 10 PPG, 1.7 APG & 1.4 RPG this season – in summary, he’s on the floor to do one thing and one thing only – score the ball. Defensively, Neal will frustrate you at times. He likes to gamble for steals and looks to leak out – this leads to the 29-year old blowing defensive assignments from time-to-time. Playing in Charlotte under Clifford will be an interesting setting for Neal, but considering the fact that he wanted out of Milwaukee and has been granted that wish, you would like to think the effort will be there. Neal will have one more year left on his contract after this one worth $3.2 million.

Luke Ridnour shouldn’t be asked to do a ton for the Bobcats. If Kemba is healthy for the remainder of the year, he’s going to log anywhere from 33-40 minutes on a nightly basis, so Ridnour will simply have to come in to be a ‘game manager’. What Ridnour doesn’t bring to the table that Sessions did is the ability to get to the free-throw line at a very high rate. What he does bring to the table, opposed to Sessions, is the ability to space the floor and knock down three’s. Ridnour is a 35.1% shooter from behind-the-arc for his career. Ridnour also has a 4/1 assist-to-turnover ratio for his career in the league, and again, he’s basically going to be asked to come in and manage games while Kemba rests. Ridnour has an expiring contract, so he’s likely only a half season rental for Charlotte in their playoff push.

This trade will have it’s critics, but at the core of the deal is the idea that the Bobcats gain three-point shooting + floor spacing, while sacrificing free-throw shooting and a guy that attacks the rim as hard as any point-guard in this league (Sessions).

Personally, I’m not sure how much this trade really moves the needle. It all rests in the hands of just how productive Gary Neal can be for this team since Charlotte is now committed to his $3.2 million next season, while Sessions was expiring and would have been coming off the books. Is it a good trade for the Bobcats? Meh, maybe. Is it a bad trade for them? No, not necessarily. Here’s hoping that Neal can rediscover the three-point shooting touch (42%) that he had in San Antonio his first two seasons (’10-’12) in the NBA.

QCH Trade Deadline Roundtable + PodCats Show discussing deadline

For the most part, I believe most will be quiet as the trade deadline looms just a little more than 24 hours away – Charlotte isn’t one of the many teams that most expect to stay quiet. Only time will tell, but one thing is certain – the front office is burning up the phones to find a trade partner that will help bolster the offensive depth on this roster.

We’ve heard the names Pau Gasol, Evan Turner, Thaddeus Young, Taj Gibson, Aaron Afflalo, Gary Neal and Caron Butler all mentioned alongside the Bobcats name in rumors, so it’s clear the team is active – whether a deal is agreed upon or not is predicated on the price tag of the player(s) and Charlotte certainly has some flexibility in that sense with at least two projected first round draft picks, their own second round pick + the Ben Gordon expiring contract.

Spencer Percy, Greg Pietras and Dakota Schmidt all give their two-cents on what to expect before the buzzer sounds on the deadline Thursday.

On a 1-10 scale, how likely is it that Charlotte makes a trade before the Thursday deadline? What improvement is most needed on this roster currently and give us a player that would be an ideal fix to you?

Spencer: 5 – I don’t think there’s any question that the front office wants to add a shooter to the roster for floor spacing around Al Jefferson, or a 6th man type of player who can come off the bench and be a ‘shot in the arm’ offensively.

Right now, all the asking prices are simply too high for Charlotte. Part of that is the Bobcats being patient and letting the market depict the value of certain players as the deadline approaches, but the other part is based around the fact that Charlotte will likely own Detroit’s 1st round pick (projected #10 currently) and teams are trying to figure out a way to fish that out of Jordan & Cho in return. I think it’s rather clear that the front office is desperate to improve offensively, but it’s also becoming increasingly transparent that they may not be willing to part ways with a 1st round pick – this is why I only have the likelihood of a trade at 50%. Not so sure that when this deadline is all said-and-done that most teams (even ones expected to make moves) end up standing pat due to this summers draft and the anxiety involved with potentially blowing the chance to land a great young player.

There are a few players that I really like as a fit for the Bobcats: Aaron Afflalo is the first – he’s averaging 19.4 PPG this season and shooting 42.7% from behind-the-arc. Really is the ideal fit for Charlotte when you consider what the team needs in terms of an offensive boost. Afflalo is also a very capable defender, so could presumably mesh well with Clifford. What it would take to land Afflalo is where the deal becomes more interesting. In order to get this deal done it would have to look something like this – ADD the DET or POR 1st round pick going to ORL as well. Charlotte would likely waive Price right away.

The other wild-card name that I would keep an eye on is Harrison Barnes – there are some reports out there that many teams have contacted Golden State about the SF and you better believe Charlotte has been one. Barnes is unhappy with his role with the Warriors and he doesn’t really appear to be an integral part of their immediate future – a MKG – Barnes swap is something I believe both parties would be willing to at least discuss.

Greg: I’d say 9. They have too many loose assets not to spend a bit, with that Portland pick in particular seemingly earmarked for a deal. I doubt it’ll be anything huge, though; I’m expecting something along the lines of the now-defunct trade with the Bucks that would have returned Gary Neal and Caron Butler. Adding a little depth and shooting would be great.

It seems unlikely, but I don’t think standing pat would hurt. Even with reinforcements, it’d be a stretch for this team to move into the fifth or sixth seed, which likely means annihilation at the hands of the Heat or Pacers. These Bobcats are good enough for right now, and it’d even be fine (if disappointing) if they dropped out of the playoffs: A three-percent chance at a top-three pick is probably better in the long run than a three-percent chance at beating LeBron. They have a fun, young, semi-competitive team, and I’m dreading the sort of short-sighted, cash-in trade the team has made in the past. Which, uh:

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I’m not opposed to dealing young players (everyone on the roster should be available), but overpaying for marginal gains is why the team is where it is now. They’ve had a better track record on trades in recent years, so hopefully level heads prevail.

As far as the most-needed improvement: Shooting, shooting, shooting, particularly on the wing. I particularly liked this hypothetical from Rob Mahoney at Sports Illustrated, who suggested swapping Gerald Henderson with the Hawks’ Kyle Korver. Though he isn’t a very good individual defender, Korver has started for elite defenses before and does a good job of playing to his limitations there. Meanwhile, his elite three-point shooting could unlock an offense that’s struggled all year. Charlotte would be able to really punish defenses double-teaming Al Jefferson, just by adding Korver to the corner.

Though I like them both individually, the pairing of Henderson and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has offensive limitations. It’s unlikely that Hendo will ever be a reliable three-point shooter, and Kidd-Gilchrist’s issues are pretty obvious. But between the two of them, I’d still hang on to MKG. He’s a very good, borderline elite defender, and at 20 still has room to grow a functioning offensive game. Henderson’s average across the board, which obviously has value in itself, but I’d rather have a specialist than a jack of all trades.

Either way, addressing that gap is probably the team’s biggest priority moving forward, whether they take care of it now or in the offseason.

Dakota: 9. While about 85% of the rumors tend to be false (being a little generous), Charlotte’s at the point where they’re going for one of the lower spots in the playoffs. As they currently stand, Charlotte is still a solid defensive team but are definitely in need of a solid offensive weapon after Jefferson or Walker. While a deal for a player at the level of Pau Gasol might be out of the question, I’d be interested to see them pursue a perimeter sharp-shooter or a solid defensive front-court option that you can put next to Jefferson, In terms of the front-court option, I really love the rumors surrounding Taj Gibson even though his price might be a little hefty. For perimeter options, I would like to see Anthony Morrow or Kyle Korver be considered as potential trade pieces.

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- Doug Branson and Spencer Percy discussed everything trade deadline on last night’s PodCats Show, so if you’re more of a listener and less of a reader — HERE YOU ARE.

Charlotte Bobcats 108, Detroit Pistons 96: Bobcats clinch season series against Detroit

Charlotte Bobcats 108 FinalRecap | Box Score 96 Detroit Pistons
Josh McRoberts, PF 33 MIN | 3-5 FG | 5-7 FT | 10 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 14 PTS | +18

Very good game from McRoberts, as he spent the night sniping from distance and grabbing more than his share of rebounds. The McDouble Double has been pretty rare: While he’s grabbed 10+ boards three other times this year, he only scored in double digits in one of those games.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, SF 20 MIN | 2-3 FG | 3-8 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 7 PTS | +8

Good game from MKG, too. (This will be a trend.) The only thing really holding him back was foul trouble; beyond that, he played good defense, rebounded well and scored aggressively and efficiently. He gets dinged a bit for missing his free throws, which has been a consistent issue. Those five misses dropped him below 60 percent on the season.

Al Jefferson, C 38 MIN | 15-28 FG | 2-3 FT | 12 REB | 7 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 32 PTS | +9

Ho hum. Another terrific game from Jefferson. Al faced the double team all night, and did a great job of passing to the open man when he wasn’t just scoring anyway.

Kemba Walker, PG 43 MIN | 8-16 FG | 3-4 FT | 4 REB | 6 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 22 PTS | +10

Kemba seems to have fully recovered from his injury, as he was back to his Iron Man workload with a team-high 43 minutes. He got a little trigger-happy from long range after finding early success there, but  mixed things up enough to finish with an efficient 22 points. Even on nights when his assist total is just average, Kemba keeps the ball churning: According to NBA.com, he leads the league in passes per game by a fair margin.

Gerald Henderson, SG 32 MIN | 3-7 FG | 6-6 FT | 1 REB | 7 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 12 PTS | +14

Henderson had a below-average scoring night, but that was buoyed by his seven assists. The team’s ball movement has been terrific lately, and that’s part of a general trend. Charlotte’s assists per game have been steadily increasing every month this season.

Anthony Tolliver, PF 28 MIN | 1-4 FG | 2-2 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 5 PTS | +4

A vanilla night from Tolliver, but he didn’t have much to do on a night when Jefferson and Kemba were (justifiably) dominating the ball.

Cody Zeller, C 15 MIN | 0-3 FG | 1-2 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 1 PTS | -6

The rebounds were nice? Zeller had a shaky night, getting viciously stuffed at the rim and playing inconsistent defense that helped Detroit claw their way back into the game. He also committed one of the more bizarre turnovers you’ll see: After grabbing a tough offensive rebound, Zeller collected himself, paused a second, then threw a hard bounce pass to no one that the Pistons turned into an easy two points.

Bismack Biyombo, C 10 MIN | 1-1 FG | 1-4 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 3 PTS | +3

Biz had a decent Biz game, but he didn’t help himself by missing those free throws.

Ramon Sessions, PG 21 MIN | 6-8 FG | 0-1 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 12 PTS | 0

Sessions didn’t have much of an issue getting to the basket tonight, and Detroit didn’t seem too eager to contest. It was the rare game when Sessions didn’t make a single free throw.

One Thing We Saw

  1. This was a big win for the Bobcats, as it clinched the season series with the Pistons and put them another game ahead in the battle for the eighth seed. If Charlotte can beat Detroit again tomorrow night, it’ll be interesting to see how the Pistons handle Thursday’s trade deadline.

Game #54 + 55: Bobcats-Pistons back-to-back 3-on-3 preview

Who: Detroit Pistons vs. Charlotte Bobcats

What: NBA Basketball – Pistons Home Game

When: 7:30 PM ET

Where: Live at The Palace of Auburn Hills, Detroit, MI

The Matchup:

Record Offensive
Efficiency
Defensive
Efficiency
Pace
Detroit 22-30 102.4 (18) 104.7 (19) 97.6 (10)
Charlotte 23-30 98.8 (25) 101.2 (7) 95.1 (21)

Previous Meetings:

12/20/13 — 116-106 Bobcats

Injuries:
Detroit: Chauncey Billups (DTD)
Charlotte: Brendan Haywood (OUT), Jeffery Taylor (OUT)

Starting Lineups

Pistons Bobcats
PG Brandon Jennings Kemba Walker
SG Kyle Singler Gerald Henderson
SF Josh Smith Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
PF Greg Monroe Josh McRoberts
C Andre Drummond Al Jefferson
6th Man Rodney Stuckey Ramon Sessions

3-on-3 TrueHoop Network Charlotte and Detroit will get together for the next two nights in a home-and-home swing. The Pistons stand just a half-game back of Charlotte in the east for the 8th spot and the season series between the two is only 3 games (Bobcats won game 1), so these next two nights are vital for both teams playoff hopes. Percy, Pietras and Kaskey-Blomain go in on Bobcats-Pistons, getting you ready for the next two nights.

1- Detroit is the worst 3-point shooting team in the league at 30.9%. This would be the type of offensive team that Charlotte could presumably feast on defensively by packing it in, but what Piston(s) pose the most dangerous threat in these next two games?

Spencer: With Detroit, the second chances are what horrifies me. The Pistons are the best offensive rebounding team in the league, yanking down 31.8% of their opportunities on that end. To that note, Charlotte is 2nd in the league in defensive rebounding (77.1%). Something has to give here and this will be a huge factor on which team gets a positive result in the next two nights.

Greg:  Even though he’s somewhat limited offensively, Andre Drummond still has the potential to wreck things for the Bobcats. He’s an excellent shotblocker, and Charlotte’s post play generates most of their points. Drummond’s rebounding will cause issues, as well. The Bobcats rely heavily on defensive boards, ranking second in the NBA in DRB%, but Andre is the league’s best offensive rebounder (by far): greg preview

Michael: It is a good thing for Charlotte’s sake that Detroit struggles from deep, because you really need to pack it into the paint against an interior as strong as Detroit’s. Between Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond, big Al Jefferson and the rest of the ‘Cats’ frontcourt will have their hands full. While Brandon Jennings and Josh Smith always serve as scoring threats, for the Bobcats to be successful in this series against Detroit, they really need to limit Drummond’s production. Drummond’s ability to hit the glass and secure second chance opportunities for the Pistons is big, and if he is able to get Jefferson into foul trouble, then Charlotte may be in trouble. They need to keep Drummond off of the offensive glass, and limit the amount of damage he does in the paint. If they are able to do that, the Bobcats should be in position to win both battles.

2- Charlotte will get the Pistons first round pick this summer if Detroit finishes outside of the top-8. Currently, the Pistons are 2 games ahead of being top-8. Would the Bobcats sweeping them in this quick back-to-back set vault Detroit into the cellar and prevent Charlotte from garnering that pick?

Spencer: With the recent firing of Mo Cheeks just before the all-star break, it does make me scratch my head about where this Pistons locker room is. If they drop two straight to Charlotte and fall 2+ games out of the playoff race then the Pistons could quickly turn into seller’s leading up to the trade deadline on Thursday.

Greg: It’ll be interesting to see what the Pistons do at the trade deadline. It’s rumored they’re looking to deal Greg Monroe, and that might by addition by subtraction if they can get pieces that fit together a little better. I think they’re still capable of making a run and winning a few games. But if it comes down to the last few weeks and they’re still on the bubble, I think we’ll probably see some phantom injuries crop up. A good pick in this draft is just too valuable.

Michael: There is still a decent amount of season left, so I don’t think losing this back-to-back would necessarily doom Detroit to falling into the top 8. Winning both games however, would help the Bobcats in the playoff push, so it could certainly have an impact either way. Getting the Pistons pick would be nice, but so would a playoff appearance.

3- We’ll start in Detroit tonight, before the showdown in the Queen City Wednesday night. You got a split, Charlotte sweep or Detroit sweep?

Spencer: Again, I’m not sure what to think about Detroit right now. They just fired their coach and have a locker room full of egotistical individuals. In other words, I simply trust the Bobcats more right now, so I’m going with Charlotte tonight + tomorrow night. This is seemingly the Bobcats chance to set the tone for what speed they’ll be traveling as they approach the finish line – what better opportunity than a back-to-back scenario against a very beatable opponent?

Greg: I think a split is most likely. Charlotte’s had some very encouraging wins, and have generally looked strong with a healthy starting lineup, but they’re still seven games under .500. They just don’t have much consistency yet, and Detroit is talented enough to take advantage of that.

Michael: I see a home-and-home split. Both teams should be well rested coming out of the all-star break, especially since neither team was featured prominently. At this point, both teams are still fighting for the playoffs, so the effort and enthusiasm will be there. It is a tall order to contain Drummond and Monroe in back-to-back games, so while Charlotte currently has the edge in playoff positioning, I expect to see the games split between the two teams.

Bobcats rolled in Brooklyn

Charlotte Bobcats 89 Final
Recap | Box Score
105 Brooklyn Nets
Josh McRoberts, PF Shot Chart 27 MIN | 5-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 13 PTS | -21

Although McBob has been shooting the ball well lately, it probably means that Brooklyn did a nice job defensively if he took 7 shots from deep.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, SF Shot Chart 30 MIN | 3-6 FG | 1-2 FT | 7 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 7 PTS | -17

I have no complaints here. We’re all just going to wait patiently for you to learn how to get to the foul line.

Al Jefferson, C Shot Chart 28 MIN | 5-13 FG | 2-3 FT | 10 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 12 PTS | -21

Jefferson had 11 points at the end of the 1st quarter and then Brooklyn pretty much said enough is enough. Double teams came in the blink-of-an-eye in the 2nd quarter and the Big Al train slowed down tonight.

Kemba Walker, PG Shot Chart 38 MIN | 6-17 FG | 2-3 FT | 3 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 16 PTS | -24

Much more active offensively tonight and is looking 100% healthy to me. Kemba was forced into many shots during 3rd quarter due to how well Brooklyn was defending Jefferson.

Gerald Henderson, SG Shot Chart 28 MIN | 3-11 FG | 0-1 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 7 PTS | -24

BOO! Don’t go back there Hendo. Don’t you do it!

Anthony Tolliver, PF Shot Chart 26 MIN | 3-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 7 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 8 PTS | +7

He’s human again. Tolliver has been unconscious from behind-the-arc recently, but woke up tonight. Elevated minutes due to Charlotte trying to figure out a way to get back in the game for most of the night.

Bismack Biyombo, C Shot Chart 19 MIN | 3-3 FG | 0-2 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 1 TO | 6 PTS | +3

Basically taking the form of what a true backup center should be asked to do in this league.

Ramon Sessions, PG Shot Chart 23 MIN | 4-7 FG | 1-2 FT | 3 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 9 PTS | -4

Couldn’t get to the FT line tonight and neither could the Bobcats.

Four Things We Saw

  1. After a very impressive win and offensive outburst against Dallas last night, the Bobcats came crashing back down to earth tonight. Charlotte shot just 41.4% from the floor and only got to the foul line 15 times – going 7-15 (46.7%) for freebies.
  2. Only turning the ball over 10 times is nice. Only forcing 9 turnovers isn’t so nice. Giving away 18 points off of your 10 turnovers – not so nice either.
  3. Paul Pierce. Or the ghost of him. 9-11 from the floor tonight for 25 points.
  4. It’s all-star break everyone. Enjoy the show this weekend and elevated trade rumors involving the Bobcats.

Game #52: Bobcats vs. Mavericks Preview

Who: Charlotte Bobcats vs Dallas Mavericks

What: NBA Basketball – Bobcats Home Game

When: 7:00 PM ET

Where: Live at Time Warner Cable Arena, Charlotte, NC

The Matchup:

Record Offensive
Efficiency
Defensive
Efficiency
Pace
Charlotte 22-29 98.4 (27) 101.0 (6) 95.3 (21)
Dallas 31-21 108.4 (4) 105.5 (23) 96.4 (14)

 

Injuries:
Charlotte: Brendan Haywood (OUT), Jeffery Taylor (OUT)
Dallas: Monta Ellis (DTD)

Starting Lineups

Bobcats Mavericks
PG Kemba Walker Jose Calderon
SG Gerald Henderson Monta Ellis
SF Michael Kidd-Gilchrist Shawn Marion
PF Josh McRoberts Dirk Nowitzki
C Al Jefferson Samuel Dalembert
6th Man Ramon Sessions Vince Carter

Tonight Charlotte will have their hands full with a very potent offense in the Dallas Mavericks. The Mavs are top-5 in offensive efficiency and they get it done from inside and out. When you roster Dirk, it’s obvious that your team will be able to score from all over the floor and Dallas is 4th in the league in FG% at 47.4%. They also get it done from behind-the-arc rather efficiently, shooting 37.8% from downtown (5th in NBA).

The flip side of the Mavericks offensive power is their below average defense – let’s have a look at how Charlotte could expose Dallas on the offensive end tonight. Dallas allows their opponents to shooting 46.2% from the floor – that’s good for 6th worst defensively in the league. Mavs opponents also get to the foul line 25.2 times/game (6th worst) and this is exactly where the Bobcats can grind on the visitors tonight. Considering the fact that Charlotte is 7th in the league in FTA/game at 24.7, the mindset offensively must be predicated on attacking the rim tonight. When the Bobcats take more FTA than their opponents they’re always in games and rarely do they lose.

An important 48 hours.: Tonight is a huge trampoline game for the Bobcats as they prepare to travel to Brooklyn tomorrow night – a game that will carry big time playoff implications leading into the all-star break. There is significant snowfall expected for the Charlotte region today + tonight, so the Bobcats may be playing in front of a small crowd.

Injury note: Monta Ellis did play Sunday in Dallas’ win in Boston and practiced yesterday, but did admit that his right hamstring was “a little tight”, so this makes his status for tonight interesting and something to keep an eye on.

San Antonio Spurs 104, Charlotte Bobcats 100: Almost, Very Nearly, Not Quite

San Antonio Spurs 104 FinalRecap | Box Score 100 Charlotte Bobcats
Josh McRoberts, PF 30 MIN | 3-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 7 PTS | +2

The threat of McRoberts’ shot has value in itself, but they need more from him on nights like tonight.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, SF 28 MIN | 2-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 12 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 4 PTS | 0

An ideal night from MKG when he’s not scoring much. His defense was on point for most of the game, and his six offensive rebounds helped keep the Bobcats’ offense afloat, especially in the third quarter. Kept several balls in play for others, as well.

Al Jefferson, C 38 MIN | 12-21 FG | 2-2 FT | 9 REB | 3 AST | 4 STL | 3 BLK | 3 TO | 26 PTS | +9

Another great offensive night from Jefferson, and he did a good job of forcing turnovers as well, totaling four steals.

Kemba Walker, PG 40 MIN | 7-19 FG | 4-4 FT | 4 REB | 8 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 18 PTS | -2

Not terribly efficient shooting, but the assists are nice and he did a very good job of pushing the tempo. It didn’t take long for Kemba to find his wind after coming back from injury: He played a team-high 40 minutes and went all-out in every one of them.

Gerald Henderson, SG 35 MIN | 8-19 FG | 5-8 FT | 5 REB | 4 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 23 PTS | +2

A well-rounded night for Henderson, too, as he used his mid-range shooting to open up the paint. He kept the Bobcats alive late in the game with a terrific offensive rebound and three-pointer, but free throws on the other end iced things.

Anthony Tolliver, PF 20 MIN | 2-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 7 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 6 PTS | -4

The rebounds are nice, but the defense suffered quite a bit with Tolliver in. He doesn’t have the foot speed to fight through all the screens the Spurs like to throw, and his man frequently found himself with open looks.

Cody Zeller, C 18 MIN | 1-3 FG | 4-6 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 6 PTS | -6

No one hits the court harder than Zeller, who seems to fly into the stanchion and/or photographers on every offensive drive. He got rewarded with several trips to the line on Saturday, and added a few nice passes, too.

Bismack Biyombo, C 10 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -13

When Biyombo gets an offensive rebound, his teammates should be screaming for him to reset the ball. Too often, he’ll take the opportunity to barf up a contested shot without much chance.

Ramon Sessions, PG 21 MIN | 4-9 FG | 1-2 FT | 2 REB | 5 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 10 PTS | -9

Near-perfect sixth-man stats from Ramon, who’s been playing well next to Walker. Unfortunately, he was also part of some uninspiring bench units that couldn’t contain the Spurs’ reserves.

Steve Clifford

Clifford’s been tinkering with the offense lately, letting the team’s speedy backcourt play get on the break more often. It’s a little surprising they haven’t taken advantage of it before, but it’s still nice to see.

One Thing We Saw

  1. This was a good game against a great team, but the Bobcats couldn’t catch many breaks in the fourth quarter. They were getting a ton of good looks, but just picked the wrong time to go cold. Likewise, their defense was solid for the most part, but there’s not much you can do when Patty Mills (32 points on 10-of-13 shooting, 4-of-5 from three) is playing with the power of a million exploding suns.

Game #51: Bobcats vs. Spurs Preview

Who: San Antonio Spurs vs Charlotte Bobcats

What: NBA Basketball – Bobcats Home Game

When: 7:00 PM ET

Where: Live at Time Warner Arena, Charlotte, NC

Injuries:
San Antonio: Manu Ginobili (Out), Kawhi Leonard (Out)
Charlotte: Brendan Haywood (OUT), Jeffery Taylor (OUT)

The timing might be right for the Bobcats to eke out a rare victory against the Spurs. San Antonio’s firmly in their “who cares” chunk of the season, resting five of their top seven rotational players in Thursday’s loss to the Nets. Part of that stemmed from legitimate injuries to Manu Ginobili and Kawhi Leonard, but it’s still unclear what kind of lineup we’ll see from Greg Popovich on Saturday.

At full strength, this is a very good Spurs team, and one that has the potential to steamroll Charlotte. Both teams have top-10 defenses, avoid fouls and rebound very well on the defensive end, but San Antonio marries that with one of the league’s most efficient offenses. The Spurs have  shifted their scoring focus this year, taking fewer three-pointers, but they hit a league-high 39.3 percent from long range and make 52.2 percent of their two-pointers, too.

Offensively, the Bobcats will need a hot game from mid-range. Like a lot of good defenses, the Spurs essentially concede that shot, giving up the fourth-most mid-range attempts. From their perspective, a two-point jumper is the best possible result, as it’s fundamentally less efficient than an attempt at the rim or from three-point range. One of the weaknesses of the Bobcats offense is how much they rely on mid-range shots: they’re fifth in attempts from that area, but only make 35.8 percent (27th). A fluky-hot game from Gerald Henderson and/or Kemba Walker, paired with another big game from Al Jefferson, could be enough to overcome the Bobcats’ usual shakiness on offense.

Having their full starting lineup is huge for Charlotte. The Walker-Henderson-MKG-McRoberts-Jefferson lineup has been good on offense and elite on defense, rating better on that end than the Pacers’ terrific starting lineup. That sample size is suspiciously small, though, as Jefferson, Walker and Kidd-Gilchrist have all missed large chunks of time. The full starting lineup has only played 187 minutes together, so it’ll be interesting to see if they can maintain that level of play in the long term and against top-tier opponents.

Bobcats to be buyers at the trade deadline? Sounds that way…

In the past few weeks there have been quite a few rumblings floating around the NBA blogosphere that suggest Charlotte is looking to make a full blown run at the playoffs and add some offensive firepower before the Feb. 20th trade deadline. There’s a split opinion when the topic of making a playoff push this season -vs- ‘tanking’ comes up. You have Kemba Walker, for example, who says it’s “ridiculous” for fans to think the Bobcats should tank this season. I agree with him. On the other hand, you have a contingency that believe this summer’s draft is a goldmine and anyone would be foolish to make a run at one of the final playoff spots in the eastern conference. I can understand that perspective too.

Evan Turner and Taj Gibson are the names that we’ve heard connected with the Bobcats over the past few weeks and Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders gives us an inside look on just why Charlotte is looking to buy in his latest piece.

The Bobcats are also buyers as the Feb. 20 trade deadline approaches, according to league sources. Rival executives have said that Charlotte has been actively working the phones for weeks, looking for potential trades that would allow them to bolster their roster for a playoff push.

The Bobcats have been shopping Ben Gordon’s $13.2 million expiring contract and may be willing to part with a first-round pick (still possibly owed Portland & Detroit 1st round picks this summer) if the right player becomes available.

When the Bobcats signed Jefferson over the offseason, many wondered what the front office was thinking. Why splurge on a marquee free agent now when the team was still very much rebuilding and a loaded draft class was on the horizon? Well, the team was sick and tired of being the laughingstock of the league and losing so many games. They gave Jefferson a three-year contract worth $41 million, and then re-signed starters Gerald Henderson and Josh McRoberts.

The biggest difference between last year’s squad and this year’s is coaching.

Clifford is the third coach in three years for the Bobcats, and he’s showing why he should’ve been handed the reins on a team years ago. Clifford started his coaching career 30 years ago at the high school level and served as an NBA assistant for 12 years before getting his first head coaching gig. This season, he has done a tremendous job preparing his players and coaching to their strengths. Charlotte has seen their points allowed per 100 possessions jump to seventh in the league, just one year after finishing dead last in that category (and just about every other defensive category, as a matter of fact).

The Bobcats have reportedly inquired about Philadelphia 76ers guard Evan Turner and Chicago Bulls forward Taj Gibson among others recently, which shows how aggressive they are being as Feb. 20 approaches. Charlotte will continue to work the phones in the coming weeks and weigh their trade options. Unless something drastically changes, the Bobcats will be buyers at the deadline.

The Queen City Hoops panel got together and discussed the possibility of Charlotte dealing for Evan Turner – does it make sense? Could it actually make the team better? Is it worth giving up what Philadelphia is likely asking for in return?

Spencer: My thoughts on Turner is that he would only add value to this roster as it’s currently constructed as a 6th man – a shot in the arm scoring boost off the bench. Brining on Turner would obviously slice into Hendo + MKG’s minutes to an extent, and as much as some out there believe that’d be a positive, defense is what has gotten Charlotte to where they are currently and I just don’t know how the best defender on the team getting less burn is all positive.

Hendo would have to sacrifice minutes as well, and although I’m more inclined to get on-board with the idea of this, let us not forget that Hendo can play off the ball very well – Turner not so much. So much of the offense goes through Kemba and Jefferson that it worries me that adding a ball dominant guard such as Turner to the lineup would threaten this style. To play around a guy like Al Jefferson, offensively, you have to be good off of the ball. Turner currently has a usage rate of 23.2 – Hendo is 21.6. Also note that Turner manages this usage ratio while playing with arguably the most ball-dominant guard in the entire league – Tony Wroten.

Note: Chris Barnewell, from Rufus On Fire, and I discussed this over twitter and he raises a good point when you look at the statistical comparisons.

 

Overall, I could get on-board with this trade if it were a Ben Gordon expiring contract & Evan Turner swap, but that’s not happening. Philly is in obvious rebuilding mode and their fishing for draft picks. It’s likely they’ll at least be asking for Portland’s pick in addition to Gordon’s expiring, which honestly wouldn’t be a killer, but all for a guy who I’d think Clifford would use as a 6th man – well, it’d certainly be a head scratcher. In addition to that, if the Bobcats pick outside of the top-10 then it goes to Chicago (completes Tyrus Thomas trade) and if Detroit picks inside the top-8 then they get to keep their pick this summer – the Pistons top-8 fate is still very much in the air. This could potentially leave Charlotte with no first round picks if they did part ways with the Portland pick via trade.

Greg: It just depends on what they’d give up for him. If it’s a pure salary dump for Gordon, with maybe a second-rounder thrown in, I’d be fine with it. Turner can sop up the minutes currently going to Chris Douglas-Roberts and replace Michael Kidd-Gilchrist for a marginally better offensive lineup. But Turner doesn’t bring much they don’t already have: He can’t shoot, he’s not a great defender, and his improved production this year is almost entirely because of the 76ers’ light-speed pace. He’ll be entering restricted free agency, as well, which means giving up any asset of value would be a mistake.

Mathew: I would not pull the trigger on this one. However, if I was the Bobcats and I was going to do the deal I would propose Turner, Jason Richardson, and their first rounder due from New Orleans for Henderson, Gordon, and the Bobcats first rounder due from Portland. This would allow the Bobcats to pick up what looks like a better first round pick this season as well as control the rights to Turner after this season by way of restricted free agency. Even if the Sixers were to agree to this deal I wouldn’t love it, as Turner is a fairly similar player to Henderson. They are both plagued by an inability to shoot the three and rely too heavily on the midrange game. I’d pass and wait for a better opportunity as the deadline approaches.

Michael: The Sixers have made their desire for draft picks evident, and it seems that one of Charlotte’s potential three first round picks, and Ben Gordon’s expiring contract would be a very enticing trade for Turner from the Sixers’ side.

In addition to their own pick, which may be in the lottery depending on the ‘Cats’ playoff push, Charlotte receives Portland’s 2014 first-rounder (top 12 protected), and Detroit’s 2014 first-rounder (top 8 protected).

On the Bobcats’ end the trade would improve them on the offensive end, where Turner could provide some wing scoring to support Jefferson’s production in the paint, and Kemba Walker’s production from the point. Charlotte struggles to score at times, and Turner has the ability to create his own shot and generate some scoring, although he needs the ball in his hands to be extremely effective. Still, he is an upgrade over Michael Kidd-Gilchrist or Gerald Henderson, one of whom could then be moved to the bench to deepen the team’s depth.

It may be a bit of a gamble on Charlotte’s end, as who is to say that Turner stays this summer, but short term he makes them a bit better and his addition probably pushes them into the playoffs. If the Bobcats really want to make it to the NBA’s second season, the playoffs, then the gamble is a move they should make.

Bobcats sweep Warriors on the season; finish west coast trip at 3-1

Charlotte Bobcats 91 Final
Recap | Box Score
75 Golden State Warriors
Josh McRoberts, PF Shot Chart 30 MIN | 4-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 7 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 9 PTS | 0

Good minutes + production from McBob tonight. I feel like when he’s able to knock down a 3 early, which he did tonight, it always tends to get the opposing team off balance, defensively. Teams wants to sag off of McRoberts and clog up action inside of the paint, but McBob’s resurgence from deep this season has made that tough for the opposition to consistently accomplish.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, SF Shot Chart 23 MIN | 2-4 FG | 3-4 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 7 PTS | +7

Assertive getting to the rim early on in this game. Also, did a nice job on Andre Iguodala tonight, who scored just 6 points on 3-8 shooting. The stat sheet doesn’t look good, but so much of what MKG does never appears in stats. We’re talking about a guy who sets the tempo defensively for this team and that’s exactly the identity that makes them successful.

Al Jefferson, C Shot Chart 39 MIN | 12-22 FG | 6-10 FT | 13 REB | 3 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 30 PTS | +16

Ho-hum, ho-hum. Jefferson with another 30-point performance and double-digit rebounds.

Clifford on Jefferson post-game: “There’s not many guys like him. He can pivot off both feet with great balance. That’s what he was missing earlier in the year, with his ankle injury – he couldn’t pivot off the other foot. He’s just so hard to guard.”

Kemba Walker, PG Shot Chart 33 MIN | 3-11 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 7 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 7 PTS | +15

Struggled from the floor tonight, but really, that was to be expected. Kemba was getting his wind back tonight, yet was still able to log 33 minutes. 15 fast-break points was phenomenal for Charlotte and Kemba was a big part of the success in the open floor.

Gerald Henderson, SG Shot Chart 37 MIN | 8-17 FG | 1-2 FT | 8 REB | 6 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 17 PTS | +7

I have to give Hendo an awesome grade for this performance – impacting the game in every area. Looking to distribute and get his shot when the respective opportunities were appropriate – a sign of a smart player who’s basketball IQ is only improving.

Anthony Tolliver, PF Shot Chart 22 MIN | 4-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 11 PTS | +6

Tolliver is better than he’s ever been in his career from behind-the-arc and it’s a big part of why this team is a better 3-point shooting team than most believe they should be. The back-to-back 3′s in the 4th quarter, after Golden State had sliced the Charlotte lead to 12 put this one out of reach.

Bismack Biyombo, C Shot Chart 9 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 2 PTS | 0

Just 9 min, but 6 rebounds in that span. I’ll take it.

Ramon Sessions, PG Shot Chart 29 MIN | 2-7 FG | 2-3 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 6 PTS | +13

Sessions was clearly back to playing his old style – throw his body at the rim as wildly as possible. Nice to have Kemba + Sessions on the floor together again – puts two ball-handlers on the floor and forces defenses to take on tons of PnR pressure.

Steve Clifford

The Bobcats have improved defensively as much as any team in the league and it’s because of the implementation of Clifford. Charlotte held one of most explosive offensive teams in the NBA tonight to 31.2% from the field – season low.

Four Things We Saw

  1. Per NBA.com/Stats — Charlotte is best in the entire league at limiting opponents points/possession in transition. Tonight they held Golden State to just 4.
  2. Golden State is 2nd in the league in 3FGM/game (9.4) – they shot 4-20 (20%) tonight.
  3. The road doesn’t get any easier for the Bobcats leading into the all-star break: Saturday at home vs. San Antonio, Tuesday at home vs. Dallas, Wednesday @ Brooklyn — all current playoff teams.
  4. This 4-game west coast trip (3-1) was an enormous statement for the Bobcats. For starters, it was against the western conference, which is clearly the superior conference in the NBA. Secondly, 2 of the 3 wins came without Kemba Walker. Charlotte looking more-and-more like a playoff team as the all-star break approaches.