Quick: Name things from the 2012-13 season that were fun to watch…and related to the Bobcats. Topping my list would be MKG (I still have the .gif of his dunk against the Pistons readily available on my phone, just as a quick reminder of reasons for optimism). Kemba, with his crossover and stepback, takes the second spot. Could another former University of Connecticut guard be the third best reason on that list? I could make that argument – as long as we are only talking about the nights when Ben Gordon would overcome the odds, and often horrendous shot-selection, and make jumper after jumper to keep the Cats in games.
Think about it: The early season game against the Hawks where Ben made 7 three pointers in a close loss. Or a few days later when he made 8 threes in a OT loss to the Blazers. Or a late season game against the Nets, when Ben scored 27 points with 6 threes. Exciting times, right? Lots of three pointers, typically coming under pressure and not necessarily the best shots – it just adds to the drama.
Oh, right, drama. Like the kind involving Ben Gordon and the Bobcats last coach du jour. A reason to be a little less enthused about the Bobcats’ long-ball threat. A new coach and an expiring contract for Ben Gordon don’t necessarily seem like a great match. Maybe the Bobcats look to find another place for Gordon to earn his next contract, with Ramon Sessions and Jeffrey Taylor available to backup the Bobcats’ starters in the backcourt.
The other primary concern with Ben Gordon: He gives up as many points as he gets – and then some. Undersized at the two spot, Ben’s build would allow him to play physically with other guards if he wanted to. But more often than not last season, a common sight was for Ben to sag off his man on the perimeter and offer a half-hearted recovery on the ensuing open shot. With Ben on the bench, Bobcats’ opponents shot 37.6% on threes -but when he was on the court, that went up to 40.6%. For comparison, the Bobcats tied the Suns for league worst defense on threes, at 38.8% allowed on the season. Here’s a fun post from last season looking at this issue: Giving up threes.
So, what to expect of the coming season? Well, Ben Gordon can still shoot. He showed that last year, making about 38% of his threes, which, again, were often tough shots, with the Bobcats not having a post presence to draw a double team. So, with Al Jefferson coming in, Ben Gordon could benefit from kickouts (Jefferson is saying he’s improved on being a black hole – but it remains to be seen how he does in Charlotte with this roster). But defense will remain an issue, due to size and inclinations. With the payoff for taking Ben Gordon’s contract on from Pistons likely coming in the next draft, just remember: An extra first rounder is on the way, no matter how many bad shots Ben Gordon takes or threes he gives up.