UPDATE: Added some “Fair & Balanced” highlights from the ‘Cats preseason opener courtesy NBA.com
The Charlotte Bobcats Preseason begins Tuesday night. After all of the buzz, wishing, and hype the Bobcats still look a lot like the Bobcats. These days, that’s not such a terrible thing (ref. Carolina Panthers). The steady, incremental improvement should put them on pace for a Playoff run this season and it all depends on getting things set on course over training camp and the Preseason games.
It Starts At The Top
The sports media crews will be enamored with Shaq and Lebron. Shaq is a proven entertainer and on Tuesday he could team up with Lebron for some Globetrotters style ball on the thin Bobcats. The Bobcats will be smart to view their first warm-up game as the glorified scrimmage that it is. The Cavs are in a different class than the Cats and comparisons would be useless. Larry Brown can work to get his team to “Play The Right Way” and perhaps steal a few tips from Lebron James about being ridiculously good at basketball.
Larry And The Henderson
Gerald Henderson should finally get to see some playing time alongside his real teammates (rather than Minnesota’s Summer League squad). It can be assumed that Raja Bell will play just enough to instruct Henderson, Antonio Anderson, and Dontell Jefferson on how to run a few plays. There’s a notion floating out there that Coach Brown doesn’t play rookies. Considering the probability of another Raja Bell injury occurring in the next several months, we can bet that Brown will be a bit conservative with his use of the proven veteran and give those minutes to some of the young guys. It would be great to see Henderson showcase his abilities with this opportunity.
A Charlotte Time Share
DJ Augustin should see just as much time as Raymond Felton at the point guard spot. Felton has established himself as the starter and will spend his time setting up the team to execute the offense properly. Preseason is a time to get the “system” into place and Larry Brown demands near perfection from his point guards. If practice makes perfect, both DJ and Raymond will get plenty of practice in these Preseason games.
A French Evolution
Alexis Ajinca will be challenged more than any other Bobcat. Not only is he trying to learn the game under the intense scrutiny and demands of Larry Brown, the Frenchman is working to process all of this in his second language. As an added pressure, Ajinca will log big minutes matched up against opposing starting Power Forwards until Boris Diaw returns. Though he could get frustrated against these accomplished and more skillful opponents, this could also serve as a great learning experience for the 21-yr old. For Coach Brown, this provides a great chance to evaluate his project’s progress. Either Alexis steps his game up and becomes Brown’s best gamble or he’s off to Maine without an extension on his rookie contract.
Minutes For Mohammed
Nazr Mohammed has been working hard to get in shape and earn some playing time this season. The coaches and sports reporters have taken notice of his efforts. Now, the team gets to see if the extra reps and training have paid dividends. Desagana Diop may have heard Nazr on his heels this summer. It’s been reported that ‘Gana has dropped a few pounds and looks good running the floor. Competition does great things for an organization. If the Bobcats’ back-up Centers are working this hard, let’s hope the competition at Shooting Guard and Small Forward will push that load of guys to their potential, as well.