“Even good luck befuddles the fool.” -someone famous or something I just made up
“You can only play who’s in front of you.” -our friend Michael Raciappa quoting some random college football coach.
We should all be as lucky as the Charlotte Bobcats have been over the past week: Four opponents, four teams missing key players:
- In last Friday’s 107-99 loss at New Orleans, the Bobcats couldn’t capitalize on Eric Gordon’s mystery knee injury despite Ben Gordon’s 34 off the pine.
- The following night’s 101-97 OT victory versus the Mavs (first in franchise history) was due in large part to the absence of Dirk Nowitzki and Shawn Marion.
- Tuesday’s 92-76 drubbing of the Wizards was certainly affected by Washington’s lack of John Wall and Nene Hilario.
- Finally, in what should be the easiest road test of the season, Charlotte escaped Minnesota with a 89-87 victory despite playing a Wolves team minus five of their top seven players.
Of course, this is by no means meant to diminish Dunlap & Company’s accomplishments. Luck or no luck, you still have to execute and the Bobcats did so better than any Charlotte basketball team has in years.
Three Thoughts on the Week
#1 Byron Mullens MIGHT BE turning the corner.
We witnessed some great things from Mully over the past two games. He stayed (mostly) inside, showing off a sweet turn-around on the block. He drove. He rebounded (including 15 against Minny). He blocked shots. He proactively rotated. Did I mention he stayed inside? Big IF but if Mullens can continue this type of game going forward, we are all going to be very happy‚ most of all Byron himself, who’ll certainly enter into the world’s richest 1% come July.
Longtime readers will know that I’ve been leading the Cho-parade from Day 1. And it’s not just the Asian-American pride. Cho represents the changing tides of pro-sports teams previously run by the “gut” (call it the Larry Brown method) into modern organizations run like successful companies. If Cho makes a move, rest assured it is always quantified in various terms of risk and reward. No move illustrates this more so than the amnesty claim for Brendan Haywood. Viewed as just another salary cap mistake in a long-line of overpaid Maverick big men, the Cats snagged Haywood for an amnesty bid of just over $2 million per season over three years. Think about it, Charlotte is getting 26-28 minutes a night of two-way, LEGIT NBA center production for $500k LESS THAN they pay Reggie Williams. Sure, he’ll be 36 when the deal expires but so what? A self-professed hoops junkie, Haywood at the worst will act as another coach by year three, at near veteran’s minimum rate. Forget Linsanity, Cho-sanity all day everyday.
#3 Help in the Half Court
With Gerald Henderson still out with a foot injury and Ben Gordon dealing with personal matters, the Bobcats’ offense devolved into transition buckets and shotclock bailouts for most of the last two games. Gordon should be back Saturday night versus Memphis but Charlotte will need to find more staple plays for easy buckets. Recently acquired Hakim Warrick may help – his one true skill, diving on pick and rolls, is something the Bobcats haven’t had on the roster – but I wouldn’t get too excited about another team’s 12th man revitalizing the offense. Ultimately, the Bobcats will need another weapon, either a post-up 4 or 5 or a dynamic SG, who can generate offense when the game slows down.